Friday, May 08, 2015

The morning after

Quite a depressing morning politically, though a few silver linings. Here's a quick run through of how my election priorities fared. [NB: Post slightly edited 17:36.]

Priority no,1: Tories out. Verdict: epic fail

Obviously my biggest desire for this election was my biggest disappointment. As I write this, it's looking like  the Conservatives will have just enough seats to form a majority government, without even the almost negligible restraining power of their Lib Dem partners. That's a disaster, for the NHS, for the economy, for schools and for the continuation of the United Kingdom.

Labour needed to make considerable advances to win, and it failed to do so. But while the media narrative is of Tory electoral triumph, it is important to note that Labour increased its popular vote share from 2010 and that the Conservatives lost theirs, and that in England Labour has increased its vote share everywhere (most dramatically in London) apart from the Northeast (where its majority was already enormous) and the East. The Tory victory in the first past the post system was partly a result of the extraordinary SNP surge in Scotland which has effectively wiped out Labour in one of its heartlands, a topic that I plan to write about when the dust settles (Labour took more far seats than it lost in England and Wales) and partly due to Lib Dem losses to Tories.

Priority no.2: Contain the rise of UKIP. Verdict: mixed

We can take some comfort in Nigel Farage not taking the seat he stood in and the Conservatives decisively regaining Rochester and Strood from their former MP Mark Reckless (one of the few times in my life I've taken joy from a Conservative gain). Carswell keeping Clacton is hardly a UKIP victory, as Carswell was surely the least UKIPy and most Tory of UKIP candidates. Farage's promised resignation will be pleasurable, although the next leader may be scarier.

On the other hand, the surge in UKIP votes, to 13% (making it the third most popular party) is depressing. Most depressing is how well it did in working class areas in the East, Northeast and Yorkshire, places like Hartlepool, Boston, Rotherham, Although UKIP's vote was stronger in more affluent parts of the Southeast and commuterbelt, the results in the rustbelt show that the left urgently needs to think hard about the strategy it has used against UKIP up to now. Some will call for more UKIP-friendly Labour policies - tougher on immigration - but I think UKIP voters won't be persuaded by the pale imitation, plus it will feed the narrative on which UKIP thrives. But what is certain is that sneering at UKIP voters as ignorant bigots is not a successful strategy.

Locally in Lewisham, UKIP got too high a vote (8-9%) for comfort in Lewisham East, where their candidate was the toxic Anne Marie Waters (3rd place), and in Lewisham West (4th place). My assumption is that these votes are from the whiter Bromley borderlands.

Priority no.3: Kick George Galloway out of Bradford - and out of British politics. Verdict: resounding success

It is fantastic to see Naz Shah get almost twice Galloway's vote. Congratulations to all those in Bradford West who fought so hard for that. I will relish Galloway's sad face under the silly hat at the count for years to come. His bizarre concession speech gives a good indication into his disturbing mindset, mixing hubris with paranoia:
there will be others who are already celebrating: the venal, and the vile, the racists and the zionists will all be celebrating. The hyena can bounce on the lion's grave but it can never be a lion, and in any case, I'm not in my grave. As a matter of fact I'm going off now to plan the next campaign.
Priority no.4: Leave some space for the left. Verdict: not much space

The Greens did OK, increasing their vote share nationally by a couple of percentage points and holding on to their single parliamentary seat. Green supporters will see this as a reason we need more proportional representation, but it's worth bearing in mind that the same vote share under PR would give the Lib Dems and especially UKIP far more seats in parliament than the Greens. The Greens performed well in Lewisham, increasing their vote share even in least promising Lewisham East, moving into third position in Lewisham West and nearly beating the Tories to second place in Deptford.

I haven't looked closely at the TUSC and Left Unity results yet. As far as I can see, there's not many places where they kept their deposits. Dave Nellist, who has profile as a councillor and former MP in Coventry did well, and less pleasingly an SWP candidate, Jenny Sutton, kept her deposit in Tottenham. Elsewhere, it looks quite bleak. I think there are two lessons from this. First, the far left only performs at all electorally under a Labour government; fear of Tories pushes socialists back to Labour. Second, the right path for building the left is not contesting elections but grassroots single issue campaigns in local  communities. 

Priority no.5: Destroy the far right. Verdict: promising

I haven't looked too closely at the far right results yet either, but a first glance seems to show they did dismally. I think their strongest result is in Rotherham, where the BNP got a couple of hundred votes (less than most TUSC candidates). In Lewisham West, the vile George Whale got just 44 votes. However, anti-fascists shouldn't take too much comfort from this, as the potential far right vote went to UKIP, and we need to keep a close eye on UKIP-fascist links.

Priority no.6: Get rid of David Ward. Verdict: success

Labour recaptured Bradford East from the vile David Ward, 47% to 30%. But we shouldn't take too much comfort from this, considering how unpleasant the Labour candidate Imran Hussein is - the man whose nepotistic clan-based machine politics pushed Bradford West into Galloway's arms. 

8 comments:

between-the-lines said...

Rupa Huq taking Ealing and Acton off Angie Bray was excellent news too, especially after Angie laughing at Rupa being heavied whilst she was challenging Bozo on the election trail last week!

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/tory-who-manhandled-labour-candidate-5644172

Roland Dodds said...

In the last election, I worked with Labour in Edinburgh to help organize in rather safe Labour spots. The fact that Labour was decimated up north in such a short period of time still astounds me.

Roland Dodds said...

Galloway's concession speech was one of the greatest things I have ever seen. That freakin' hat!

Sarah AB said...

A small local silver lining for me - Cambridge, formerly Lib Dem, was narrowly won by Daniel Zeichner for Labour.

Paul Canning said...

Another silving lining.

A huge leap in the number of women and BME MPS. Also, there are now 27 out gay and lesbian MPs.

Waterloo Sunset said...

People Before Profit got 6798 votes in Belfast West. No idea if that's a personal vote or what though.

Other interesting minor party news is the regionalist party Yorkshire First. 6811 votes over 14 seats, including 1018 votes in Hemsworth.

While obviously not a groundswell of support, that's still pretty decent for a party running their first general election campaign. Better on average than most of the far left.

More impressively, they now have five local councillors.

Be interesting to watch this one. They could fizzle out or this could be an indicator of a wider non hard right movement towards regionalism. (They describe themselves as radical centrists, but they're quite a mixed bag politically. Their Colne Valley candidate was an ex Labour councillor who stood on an explicitly left of Labour platform).

Waterloo Sunset said...

On UKIP and specifically their support in working class areas.

I'd suggest this is the old AFA analysis being borne out. The space unfilled by the left in those areas is now being filled by the hard right. We just got the party wrong, obviously. It's UKIP rather than the BNP who are increasingly being able to position themselves as the anti political establishment. (We can at least be thankful it's not actual fascists I guess).

However, that leads me to believe another part of the analysis was correct. It's going to be very hard to defeat UKIP from a pro Labour position. In fact, tailing Labour may destroy the already neglible credibility anti UKIP campaigners have in those areas.

It's another reason the rise of regionalism is an interesting possibility. I could actually see that, if it becomes a trend, causing real issues for UKIP ideologically.

bob said...

On UKIP filling the vacuum, the IWCA have now fleshed out precisely this analysis: http://www.iwca.info/?p=10247