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What is a good vote?

Compiled by Jim Jepps

with help from Andy Newman, Campbell McGregor, Matthew Cayhill


 

When the vote counters in the media have their wicked way they will focus on two things. Whose been elected and what % did they get. With some of the rather exaggerated claims for the prospective vote it is important to have a more sober assessment of the vote so that if a reasonable vote is achieved RESPECT supporters do not see this as a total disaster and drop away from the project of left unity.

 

In our view the following sounds a reasonable assessment of what a good/bad national vote would look like (% based on last Euro election turnout).

 

Galloway's target 1,000,000 10% Wow!
Nader's last vote 500,000 5% Very good result
Probable SA vote 200,000 + 2-5% Okay to good
  200,000 - Less than 2% Bad
SLP vote 100,000 - Less than 2% everywhere Disaster

 

Different regions will receive different votes of course, for various reasons. Be they tactical voting, stronger RESPECT regions or whatever. Below we assess the prospects in the some of the regions.

 

Eastern

1999 saw 4 Tory, 1 UKIP, 2 Labour and 1 Lib Dem

This region is probably one of the weakest due to the rightward tendency of the voters, and the weakness of the left. 1% or 10,000 might be achievable. This may make a good case for a 'control' experiment to see how much the media work, without any intervening organisation on the ground, can achieve.

Gold star of merit goes to Harlow who are clearly a properly functioning RESPECT group and A for effort goes to Lowestoft who also have a genuine RESPECT group against all the odds - other towns are unfortunately less coherent.

An added complication for RESPECT is that it seems Martin Bell will be standing as an anti-corruption candidate and is likely to do quite well. The Green Party achieved 6% last time and are also strong contenders for the progressive rural vote.

 

London
Current MEP's 4 Lab, 4 Tory, 1 LD, 1 Green

Not only is London the region where the lowest % is needed to get anyone elected (5% for the Assembly) It is also clearly a  stronger region with an additional election broadcast. If RESPECT is unable to achieve that 5% here this will certainly be seen as a defeat.

South East
Current 2 Lab, 5 Tory, 2 LD, 1 Green, 1 UKIP

One of the seats that the Greens hold. What would be disastrous would be if RESPECT are seen to lose the Greens their seat, without gaining a decent vote themselves. Having said that, reports from this region are surprisingly positive and perhaps the South East will show well - regaining their deposit.

South West
currently 4 Tories, 1 Labour, 1 LD, 1 UKIP.

The Green's got their highest vote  in the country here (8.31%) in 1999, but didn't get a seat. They were 22,000 votes short of this and have high hopes of getting a seat this time (or even two according to some of their literature).

This is also the Lib Dems stronghold region, where most of their English MPs have historically come from. (Jeremy Thorpe, David Penhalligan, Paddy Ashdown, etc). The Greens and Lib Dems will be the natural beneficiaries of the anti-war vote. Many Labour MPs in the region opposed the war (with the notable exception of former trot "Red Dawn" Primorolo) - I think the Labour vote will hold up here, Labour has performed well in recent council by-elections.

The Greens have an election pact with Mebyon Kernow, who perhaps surprisingly have 17 council seats in Cornwall and are also surprisingly progressive (have a policy of British withdrawal from NATO for example!).

This is a vast rural constituency, with the exception of Bristol (Gold star to them, pictured) Bristol RESPECTthere are no metropolitan areas - even Plymouth is a relatively small city. In Bristol the campaign may suffer because  eyes will be on the campaign by Ian Bone's populist "Bristolian party" (although this is not standing in the Euro's of course). Bristol also has a very wide activist and alternative scene who are more likely to vote Green than RESPECT.

RESPECT in Bath is a success story (Gold Star number two), and Bathonian candidate John Bamfylde is popular. also the South West launch had 150 people at it which does bode well.

However, it will be hard to improve on the 6000 votes achieved by the SLP in 1999. 10,000 or 1% is a high end estimate. To have turned this around would have required a different sort of campaign including taking up rural issues, and a regional manifesto for Devon and Cornwall.

 

Yorkshire and Humberside
Last time 3 Lab, 3 Tory, 1 LD


In 1999 the Alternative Labour/Left Alliance (i.e. today's Alliance for Green Socialism) got 9554 votes (1.28%) and the SLP 7650 votes (1.03%). So anything below 17,204 votes (2.31%) is would be a distinct step back, especially in the context of the current huge unpopularity of the Blair government and political disaster of the occupation of Iraq.


The Greens got 42,604 (5.73%). The Lib Dems got one seat with over 100,000 votes (14.4%).

The target for Anas Altikriti to get a seat is something like 10% or around 100,000 votes. Anas is an excellent candidate, despite all disagreements about political values.


Objective political conditions should be a help. Although the postal vote won't be as it cuts down on campaigning time (but maybe this won't be too disastrous).


Problems this time around include another split left vote with the AGS standing a list. The key to a good performance could well be just how effective Anas and Mobeen are in mobilising a vote in the Muslim communities.
 

 

Scotland

The vote last time round (Scottish Parliament elections);
Labour 29.30%, SNP 20.86%, Tory 15.50%, LD 11.78%, SSP 6.90%, Green 6.68%


By the d'Hondt system this would give Labour 3 MEPs, SNP 2, Tories and Lib Dems 1 each (much the same as 1999 except the Tories would lose 1 seat). However the last MEP to be elected would be Labour's 3rd, so the target is 9.43%, a 41% increase on our vote last year.

Both us and the Greens are in with a serious chance, actually we don't need to overtake the Lib Dems, but we do need to overtake 1/3rd of the Labour vote and keep ahead of the Greens. This is not easy but far from impossible, particularly since Labour could be most vulnerable to factors like a significant increase in the SSP vote, low turnout, mid-term blues for Blair.

2003 election results for the SSP

http://www.scottishsocialistparty.org/election03/results.html


Wales
Currently 2 Plaid Cymru, 2 Labour, 1 Tory.

In 1999 the Greens got 2.5%, Lib Dems 8% and SLP 0.7% (who will have been bolstered by a personal vote for Scargill) The first thing to be said is that the SA in Wales was weaker than in England, in terms of membership, composition and election results.  RESPECT Wales is even weaker than the SA was at its height, as Cymru Goch are now in Marek's Forward Wales, and most of the independents are gone.

RESPECT did not need to stand in Wales to get a Party Political broadcast in England, and it may be a tactical error to stand where the left of Labour field is crowded with Forward Wales and Plaid, quite apart from the anti-war stance of the Lib Dems and Greens. Forward Wales not only have John Marek AM, but also now former Welsh secretary Ron Davies, and is backed by the RMT.

Forward Wales could well take the majority of the left vote. RESPECT may get less than 2000 votes, and 10000 would be a fantastic ambition in this less than fertile soil.

 

Northern Ireland

 

The Socialist Environmental Alliance (SEA) is well placed to get a not bad vote, although unfortunately there is no chance that Eammon McCann, the candidate topping their list could get elected (needing around 25% to do so)

The last time Eammon stood he got 5.5% in the Foyle constituency (2,257 votes) which is a very good result. if anything like this can be managed across the region SEA will have proved themselves a very credible force.


 

Is a low turnout good for RESPECT?

Received wisdom says that a low turnout can only be good. After all the harder your political enthusiasm the more likely you are to come out and vote. The SSP might well benefit with a low turnout as it has had time to build up a consolidated support among those it has never met.

This will not necessarily be good for RESPECT though. Those who do not turn out will be those most disaffected from the mainstream parties - these are the very people that RESPECT will be targeting to vote for them. If they are unable to mobilise that vote a low turnout could well hit RESPECT harder than other groups.

This of course means that it is important for RESPECT to be able to mobilise their vote, and if turnout improves with a good RESPECT vote would be a clear indicator that RESPECT has pulled some of the disenfranchised into the ballot boxes. This is doubly true because due to the electoral system successful candidates will not only need to achieve a required vote (e.g. 8% in the Eastern Region) they will also need to beat all the other minor parties (UKIP, BNP, Greens, Forward Wales) in many areas.
 

 

We are currently awaiting the reports from East Midlands, West Midlands, North East, and the North West

 

May 2004

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