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