What is a good vote?
Compiled by Jim Jepps
with help from Andy Newman, Campbell McGregor, Matthew
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).
Nader's last vote
Very good result
Probable SA vote
Okay to good
Less than 2%
Less than 2% everywhere
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.
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.
Current MEP's 4 Lab, 4 Tory, 1 LD, 1
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.
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.
currently 4 Tories, 1 Labour, 1 LD, 1 UKIP.
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
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.
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
there 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.
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
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
The vote last time round (Scottish
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
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
Currently 2 Plaid Cymru, 2 Labour, 1 Tory.
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.
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
Is a low turnout good for
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