Friday, July 11, 2008

Haltemprice and Howden: RESULTS IN... Greens second place!

The Haltemprice and Howden by election probably hasn't turned out quite how David Davis imagined it might, although obviously he's kept his job with around 71% of the vote. For a start the Labour Party were a very sensible no show and the Lib Dems had agreed beforehand not to stand against him (which he's recently rather churlishly chucked back in their faces - but that's Tories for you I suppose).

It looks like turnout will be quite high under the circumstances (about 34.5%) but unfortunately this by election has been more noticeable for its unique character(s) than heightening the political discourse. The BBC have even wheeled out Roy Castle (RIP) to list all the ways it might be a record breaker.

Jill Saward was the Labour Party's proxy candidate who calls for increased surveillance (wow!) and she was was just one of the names on the extraordinarily large ballot paper you can see to the right (where I've cheekily added a little green cross). In fact there are so many candidates they can't even all fit on the stage for that dramatic election "moment".

Rupa Huq, whom I'm warming to considerably, reminds us that by elections are not barometers of national opinion but just local snap shots - all well and good, but Labour's misfortunes in these elections do come after very poor local election results and amidst the palpable air of death surrounding the PM. She may be right that in Haltemprice and Howden "If we were to choose a Shakesperian title Much Ado About Nothing sums up the state of affairs perfectly" but that certainly does not go for the political period.

The Greens have been performing well electorally in the last few years, so does this mean that, as someone in the comments box suggested recently, the Greens have finally thrown off their David Icke image? Well, I suspect most people have forgotten that fellow candidate Icke was ever in the Greens and one of the multitude of principle speakers we had way back in the mists of time (and whom the media selected as impromptu leader, because he'd been on the tele). Having said that there's still an image of the bearded, vegan, sandal wearing pagan - which, if we're being fair, is only 50% of the story. Cough.

Of course, image is not the only thing that is keeping the Greens from having a majority government. Part of the "problem" is that the Greens are a radical party with minority support, it calls for difficult solutions that often people don't want to hear and as Labour and the Tories were the first parties adopted it becomes a vicious cycle that is difficult to break.

If your political philosophy says there has to be a fundamental break with the way things are done now that's not a comfortable and easy message - particularly when coupled with ideas of independent autonomous grass roots action. I think sometimes people want someone else to sort it all out for them.

It's also true that by being first on the field Labour and Tories are at a tremendous advantage with anyone else having to not just persuade the electorate of their ideas, but also convince them that they can win, that it's not a wasted vote. Whilst Icke wont be persuading anyone of his philosophies, and Shan Oakes certainly will have, they both face the same problem that most of the 26 candidates face - convincing people they are not just a waste of time who cannot win. Which is why in areas where we get that first glimpse of electoral success new successes quickly follow.

But there are advantages too - over civil liberties, over the environment, over the war and a host of other things the Green Party's opinions are shared by millions in this country, although probably not the majority. Whilst Icke has the dubious privilege of being the most mocked man with mental health problems ever in the UK the Greens are probably the most under reported party expressing commonly held views ever. At least a bit of mocking would be something.

Like all political parties the Greens have different currents and tendencies, it has individuals of great talent and of alarming eccentricities - and sometimes they are the same people. What is clear from the results in London or Norwich or Brighton if you have people who are serious about organising on the ground you can make serious headway over time, despite the difficulties of being one of the "others".

Full Results as follows;

Party Candidate Votes %

Conservative David Davis 17,113 71.56

Green Shan Oakes 1,758 7.4

English Democrats Joanne Robinson 1,714 7.2

National Front Tess Culnane 544 2.3

Miss Great Britain Party Gemma Garrett 521 2.2

Independent Jill Saward 492 2.1

Monster Raving Loony Mad Cow-Girl 412 1.7

Independent Walter Sweeney 238 1.0

Independent John Nicholson 162 0.7

Independent David Craig 135 0.6

The New Party David Pinder 135 0.6

no label David Icke 110 0.5

Freedom 4 Choice Hamish Howitt 91 0.4

Socialist Equality Chris Talbot 84 0.4

Independent Grace Astley 77 0.3

Christian Party George Hargreaves 76 0.3

Church of the Militant Elvis Party David Bishop 44 0.2

Independent John Upex 38 0.2

Independent Greg Wood 32 0.1

Independent Eamonn Fitzpatrick 31 0.1

Make Politicians History Ronnie Carroll 29 0.1

Independent Thomas Darwood 25 0.1

Independent Christopher Foren 23 0.1

Independent Herbert Crossman 11 -

Independent Tony Farnon 8 -

Independent Norman Scarth 8 -

I think Shan and her team can be very proud of what they've achieved here.


Derek Wall said...

Its been great canvassing and megaphoning in the constituency, Shan
has been a great candidate...well at the end of the day getting on the doorstep and talking to people is essential.

Anonymous said...

Funny how you seemed to have actually done something to help in this by-election, Derek, when you did diddly squat to help Sian and the London Assembly campaign only a few months ago.

Jim Jay said...

Disagreeing with people politically is fine - but I don't want any personal attacks here thank you, as that can poison debate.

As it happens Derek had severe back problems and was laid up so no political motivation should be read into the fact he was less active all round for some weeks earlier in the year.

Rupert said...

Nice post, Jim. Yes, our electoral results are building: roll on Glasgow East?!
Here is my analysis of the meaning of Shan's good result:

Aaron said...

I seem to be noticing more support building for the Greens... well done Shan! :)

Douglas Coker said...

I agree it was right to stand. This gave us a chance to talk to and engage with some voters. And some voters took the opportunity to vote for us. The GP and Shan (well done) got some useful press coverage.

But let's not read too much into it. The whole thing was a bit "maverick". And 1714 voted for the English Democrats an unsavoury bunch whose "Putting England First" anti-Scottish tack in the London mayoral election got my attention (I'm Scottish!). 3326 voted for either the far right or the god squad or jokers or nutjobs.

Once all the fuss has died down how many will remember this election?

Quoting the 7.4 % GP vote should be done with caution as any informed commentator will be able to retort ...yes but ... !

Douglas Coker
Enfield Green Party

Natalie Bennett said...

I reckon at least some of the English Democrat vote would have been people not paying much attention who thought they were the Liberal Democrats - hard to quantify, but I bet there were some.

I agree with Douglas that while Shan and her helpers deserve to be congratulated for extremely hard work, we shouldn't regard this as a measure of outcomes in any "normal" election.

Derek Wall said...

'Funny how you seemed to have actually done something to help in this by-election, Derek, when you did diddly squat to help Sian and the London Assembly campaign only a few months ago.'

It wasn't funny for me because I had fractured one of my vertabrae and was out of action for a couple of months.

Jim Jay said...

I've seen a couple of people trying to do the numbers on this - looking at what the Labour vote did, etc, but as has been said here it's too much of an exception to start drawing conclusions.

Will Shan be getting more than 7% of the vote in this area at next year's Euro elections I wonder? We'll see, but clearly the risk the Greens took paid off but whilst people can be impressed we came second we have to remember that people aren't bowled over by this because it did not involve beating two of the three main parties.