Recent Elections2010 Articles



The Greens still have much to worry about

by Guest     May 9, 2010 at 10:46 am

contribution by Climate Sock

Away from Brighton, the Greens’ scores weren’t spectacular; the significance of yesterday may be less the results themselves, and more the opportunity they’ve given the party to build on its current position.

Nationally, the Greens won 286k votes: up about 30k on 2005. But in 2005 they contested 200 seats; this time they were in 334 constituencies, and there was an overall small national swing away from the Greens. Overall, UKIP got 3 times as many votes, and the BNP got twice as many.

Away from Brighton Pavilion, their results in the constituencies they targeted were mixed. In Norwich South they gained 7.5pts, and in Cambridge Tony Juniper gained 4.7pts, but in both they remained in fourth place. In both Lewisham Deptford and Oxford East, they lost ground, falling by 3.3pts and 2.1pts respectively.

So even where the party is making gains it’s still a very long way from being able to win more constituencies. Only in Norwich South are they in touching distance of the winning party – and Labour and the Lib Dems will be fighting tooth and nail over it.

There’s an argument that this election came at a difficult time for an environmentalist party: the focus on the economy squeezed out most coverage of green issues. But other factors may have helped, since the Tories and Labour were so unpopular, and the Lib Dems look to have been less popular than the polls had suggested.

All this suggests that the extra money, airtime and credibility that Caroline Lucas MP will bring is unlikely to be enough alone to help the party make further gains in Westminster. The only answer for the Greens looks to be electoral reform.

But it can’t be any kind of electoral reform – in fact I suspect that the Alternative Vote system (which is the limited reform that both Labour and the Tories may push for) may even be unhelpful for the Greens.

To do well in AV, you need not only to be disliked by relatively few, but you also need a decent number to choose you as their first choice. In Brighton Pavilion this shouldn’t be a problem, but I suspect the party would continue to struggle to find enough people putting them as first choice in other constituencies.

The only system that would allow them to take advantage of their broad but thinly-spread support (about 1% of the electorate under the current system – though it should increase under a changed system) would be a more proportionally representative system.

A system like the ones in Wales and Scotland, which elects both constituency and regional Members, may be the most realistic and helpful answer for the party.

Why a Con-Lib coalition might be good for the Left

by DonaldS     May 8, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Some thoughts on why a deal between the Libdems and Conservatives has to be done, despite the obvious risks:

1. Clegg has no choice but to talk with Cameron. “The coalition of the defeated” is a powerful framing narrative, which would be bad enough on its own. But Brown is also widely hated in England, and installing a Labour PM who isn’t Brown couldn’t be sold to an electorate pre-primed with that “unelected PM” line. (And 23% isn’t a mandate for Clegg to head any Lib-Lab coalition.)

Worse: a Clegg/Labour alliance would be 100% reliant on 9 nationalists and plagued by an extreme version of the West Lothian Question. It would fall and Labour and the LibDems would be annihilated at the subsequent election. It’s a non-starter.

2. However, lefties, anti-Tories and “progressives” who voted tactically to keep the Conservatives out needn’t feel betrayed. We succeeded; this is about as well as the strategy could have gone given the state of the parties’ popularities a year ago.

All those hard-right Tories trying to scupper the Cameron/Clegg deal right now would have been calling the shots in government if we hadn’t voted tactically. They can be neutralized to some extent: dare them to bring a deal down.

3. Those shouting from the sidelines about betrayal need to ask themselves: how did we get here? The answer is that Labour got us here. There’s no appetite in this country for a Tory government, clearly; the vote was an anti-Labour/anti-Brown plebiscite. New Labour betrayed the “progressive cause”, and Clegg is left in the unenviable position of salvaging what he can from the wreck. Almost anything he can secure this weekend is more than we could have expected 6 months ago.

4. It pains me to write this, but Clegg has little mandate for brinksmanship on electoral reform. He polled 23%, Cameron got 36%; and the numbers for England are even worse. A parliamentary commission is a dead-end, obviously, but what if he could kick the Tories’ gerrymandering “reforms” into touch and secure fixed parliamentary terms plus a binding, BC-style Citizen’s Assembly for the Commons and Lords reform based on PR?

Again, that’s more than we could have expected 6 month ago, and might be possible *– especially if backed up by popular calls for major change. Of course, the real culprits on Commons reform are Labour. They held power for 13 years and showed no interest until it became their last lifeline.

5. Like it or not, the British pubic is going to form its opinion about coalitions based on what happens now. For the long-term prize, it’s better that Clegg succeeds in building more than a Minority Government deal with Cameron. Such an unstable deal would put him permanently in the position of being able to bring Cameron down, and then taking the blame from the Tories’ media friends.

Alternatively, it would leave Cameron with the power to time a dissolution to suit him. Clegg should agree a stable governing coalition with a fixed lifetime (of, say, 3 years) and a pre-determined program that, among other things, secures tax cuts for the poor rather than the rich, increases education spending on disadvantaged children, and scraps ID cards, alongside political reform and stymying the Tory hard-right’s culture war.

The alternate scenario could be much worse – anyone fancy a quick election with many more seats within Conservative reach, Ashcroft’s cash, and a Labour Party at civil war, for example?

Major political reform, and the end of FPTP, is going to be a long game. Dealing with the Tories can be the first act, and Clegg and his party should play their role. It might not work, Cameron might not even want it to work, but right now there’s no other show in town.

Labour needs to do more to see a #progressivemajority

by Sunny Hundal     May 8, 2010 at 9:59 am

When Nick Clegg meets his MPs today and polls them, I expect he’ll tell them that the party is in a lose-lose situation. Here is why.

Clegg does not want to prop up Gordon Brown’s party because that would make the Libdems more unpopular.

But going into a coalition with the Tories would incur much bigger costs. Clegg has repeatedly said he sees the Libdems as the only true progressive party and that it wants to supplant Labour as the real opposition. Going into an alliance with the Conservatives m not only destroys the idea that the Libdems are the official opposition, but will also throw away a lot of support.

Reading the grassroots – it’s clear that the Libdems overwhelmingly want voting reform to be their principle policy. Not surprising, since the current system works badly against them. But is Cameron likely to agree to anything approaching meaningful vote reform? I doubt it.

And lastly, if you see yourself as the only true progressive force, how do you justify allying with the least progressive party around (other than the DUP of course)?

It looks like Clegg holds the cards, but he’s actually in a very weak position.

The election results were good for the left, given the odds. The BNP lost, UKIP didn’t get anywhere and the Tories failed to get a majority despite all that money and press support behind them. Hell – their main opposition was a highly unpopular leader of a tired party that had no vision and ran one of the lamest campaigns in recent history. They are trying hard to ignore the grim reality but it’s still there.

If Labour want that coalition for the sake of people they claim to be fighting for – then the party needs to make it much easier for Clegg to come over.

For a start, Brown can’t stay as leader. Secondly, they need to adopt the main Libdem policies (which can’t be that hard).

I’d even go as far as saying: make Clegg PM – his approval ratings are far higher than any Labour minister. That would keep Libdems happy and keep Labourites (because they want to stay in power) happy.

On that point, can Labourites please stop going on about how the Libdems are so right-wing and want to slash everything? Here are the figures in graphical form.

Labour ministers should stop being so power-hungry and think about the people they’re seeking to represent. If they truly think the Tories will be terrible for those people, then they need to think about offering more incentives to Clegg.

A message for Nick Clegg…

by Unity     May 7, 2010 at 3:41 pm

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright–
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done–
“It’s very rude of him,” she said,
“To come and spoil the fun!”

The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead–
There were no birds to fly.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
“If this were only cleared away,”
They said, “it would be grand!”

“If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year.
Do you suppose,” the Walrus said,
“That they could get it clear?”
“I doubt it,” said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.

“O Oysters, come and walk with us!”
The Walrus did beseech.
“A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.”

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head–
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat–
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn’t any feet.

Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more–
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

“But wait a bit,” the Oysters cried,
“Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!”
“No hurry!” said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said,
“Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed–
Now if you’re ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed.”

“But not on us!” the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
“After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!”
“The night is fine,” the Walrus said.
“Do you admire the view?

“It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf–
I’ve had to ask you twice!”

“It seems a shame,” the Walrus said,
“To play them such a trick,
After we’ve brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“The butter’s spread too thick!”

“I weep for you,” the Walrus said:
“I deeply sympathize.”
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
“You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none–
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.

Go Caroline Lucas!

by Sunny Hundal     May 7, 2010 at 8:51 am

Thank you, people of Brighton for making history!

I have sympathy for the Labour candidate but this is a massive result for the Green movement and for left-wing politics in general.

Well done to all the greenies who busted their guts campaigning in that constituency. The Green Party should be very happy with itself tonight after this breakthrough.

Election Night Live Blog (and BBC TV feed)

by Unity     May 6, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Majority Government – or tabloid rule?

by Hobhouse     May 6, 2010 at 3:20 pm

A hush is spreading. The sun is bright and hopeful, there’s smiling on the streets. One in seven of us, even more, could vote today.

And perhaps, just perhaps, we’re electing a Majority Government.

What does it mean? When the dust settles, in a week or three, we could have a new government, elected by a strong majority of voters, ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work — for all of us.

A National Government? A Reform Parliament? Maybe even a good one.

This couldn’t be a government of one party alone. Nor could it be a Conservative one. Even if the Tories win a majority in Parliament, they’ll have little more than a third of the vote. And they’ve made it clear that if they fall short, they’ll try to govern alone.

The Tories have turned their faces away from a deal with the voting majority. They’ll only go into coalition with the tabloids.

So our hopes for Majority Government hang between Liberal Democrats — and Labour. And either side could screw that up.

It’s a new and delicate dance, demanding courage and humility. For not a few politicians, this is quite a stretch. But here’s how it could go:

Gordon Brown’s time is done. But only he is prime minister. Only he can bless a Majority Government out of the gate. But he can never lead it.

Brown must say that Labour wants a Majority Government with the Lib Dems, while acknowledging that the coalition will choose its own leader and that this may not be him. Then he has to step back as caretaker, and let others negotiate for him. Labour will have to go beyond its comfort zone and genuinely share power.

This can’t be a Labour Government, but a government for all. Who knows, perhaps Greens, Scots, Welsh or Irish will be welcome too?

The Lib Dems must say that this is a vote for change and reform, and that they’re ready for a coalition built on fairness. Forget first chances — most people haven’t voted for any one of the three: the next government needs a mandate from the majority.

The Lib Dems will be right to make genuine partnership and fixing the broken electoral system red lines. But they must not overreach.

And no-one can leak, or they’ll lose the public’s trust.

Our next prime minister could be Alan Johnson, Nick Clegg or Jack Straw for all I care. They must be brave, smart and modest: leader, listener, and bridge-builder. Rebuilding a sustainable economy and the public finances and reforming our politics is hard and responsible work, and we need everyone involved.

In the background, as Sunny says, Labour needs a months-long conversation, a real contest, and new foundations. Go back to the roots with humility, listen, and think again.

But we need a responsible Majority Government fast. Otherwise the tabloid story – of Tory triumph – will grip us. And that would be the most lethal and corrupt of lies – making minorities of majorities and majorities of minorities, and leaving us saddled with a weak and nasty Tabloid Government. Shiver.

Either way we’re making history. Let’s do all we can to get it right.

And if the majority needs to take to the streets to be heard, that Parliament Square flashmob was a start, and this Demo for Democracy looks like a good idea.

Watch: If there were no Rupert Murdoch

by Unity     May 6, 2010 at 10:38 am

Philippa Stroud – a correction

by Unity     May 6, 2010 at 8:55 am

Over the last few days, a sizeable number of articles have been published about Conservative Party candidate, Philippa Stroud, which contain a  error of material fact.

As Ms Stroud has, seen fit, through her lawyers, to contact a number of media organisations and invoke the provisions of s106 of the Representation of the People Act, under which it an offence to knowingly publish an untrue statement about the character or conduct of a parliamentary candidate during an election period, we feel compelled to issue the following correction on behalf of the blogosphere.

It has been suggested, by numerous sources, that in 1999, Ms Stroud ‘wrote’ a book entitled ‘God’s Heart for the Poor’ in which she allegedly explains how to deal with people showing signs of ‘demonic possession’.

Further inquiries indicate that although Ms Stroud is, indeed, listed as one of two co-authors by Amazon, this is, in fact, incorrect, as indicated by the following statement, which appears on the personal website of the books’ other listed author, Christine Leonard:

God’s Heart for the Poor, ghosted biography/how to for Philippa Stroud. Kingsway, Aug 1999 Out of print

It would appear, therefore, that Ms Stroud ‘wrote’ this particular book only in the same sense that Wayne Rooney is the ‘author’ of an ‘autobiography’ and Katie Price is a successful ‘novelist’; and so, on behalf of the blogosphere, we unreservedly withdraw the claim that Ms Stroud is a published author.

Any further correspondance on this matter will, as matter of course, be referred to the response provided to the plaintiff in the case of Arkell vs Pressdram.

What are your predictions? Election day open thread

by Sunny Hundal     May 6, 2010 at 8:45 am

What do you think will be the share of the national vote? And who will end up forming government, with how many seats?

As there won’t be much news today, or articles asking you to vote this or that way, tell us your predictions.

Here is my prediction: Conservatives around 36%, Labour 29% and Libdems 28%.

I think the Libdem vote will be slightly higher than projected by others because of a surge in the youth vote. But it’s very unlikely to hit 30%. Like the professional pollsters, I also don’t think Libdems will come second in the popular vote (which is unfortunate).

There’s no point using the Uniform Swing Calculator to project seats using these percentages. That model is dead.

With such a low share of the vote, I’m hoping that Gordon Brown announces his resignation as party leader as soon as possible and Harriet Harman and Alan Johnson take over as caretaker leader to call for a proper leadership debate and vote. If the Libdems come close in third place, then a coalition with Labour would have much more democratic mandate than a Conservative government with just over a third of the national vote.

It’s very likely the Tory supporting papers will try and call the election early for the Conservatives. We have to resist the Tory coup as much as possible.

At around 10pm the live-chat applet will be launched for constant discussion.

If you’re stuck for somewhere to go and watch the election, you could always come to the Royal Festival Hall.

So… what’s your projected share of the vote, projected seats (if you really want to) and any other predictions on what to watch out for?


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