(Warning, this might go on a bit, but I’ve found it quite interesting.)
Well, it isn’t the end of the world, although listening to BBC Radio 5 this morning, you would have thought the SA were patrolling the streets looking for ‘darkies’ to repatriate.
Out of what, 700 seats? The BNP have taken two of them. That’s as much as I’m going to say on the subject of them.
It’s a strange one this morning, watching Sky News last night, they were saying before it all kicked off that anything below 20% of the vote would be a disaster for Labour. As I write this we’re still waiting for confirmation from the Scots but it would seem that the SNP have done very well and taken the lion’s share of the vote north of the border. Fair play to them, a projected share of 29% of the vote is a good whack, and leaves Labour with around the 20% mark, a figure that Sky put next to a picture of a glum looking Brown when they did their preview. Not a good result at all.
Nationally, it is obvious that UKIP are the big winners, whilst the Lib Dems have effectively been treading water since last time round. The stats however make very interesting reading. Labour have had another disaster, with a 7% swing away, that would spell curtains for a huge number of their MPs. But who have profited from this swing? Certainly not the Tories who have only managed a 1.2% increase in their take, similarly despite UKIP firmly establishing themselves as a force in British/European politics (it will be interesting to see how they perform in a general election) their share only went up by 0.5%, the Lib Dems suffered a minor 1.1% downturn, not a disaster, but it can’t have been what they were hoping for.
The arrogance of the phrase ‘protest vote’ annoys me, it supposes that the main parties feel they have a right to peoples’ votes, and those that vote against them in the Euros will file back to their default position at a general. I’m not convinced that is the case any more. The big winners last night were, in reverse order, the BNP (of course) with an uplift of 1.4%, the Greens who picked up 2.5% and then ‘Others’ with 2.7%.
UKIP have not been without their share of fraud scare stories, so perhaps they’ve been tainted a little. I doubt they’ll care this morning, they have after all just finished second in a national election. You’d have expected a bigger rush to the side of the Greens, but perhaps people don’t take them seriously or take them very seriously and treat them with suspicion. The BNP story is well documented, both here and elsewhere.
The interesting tale is in the ‘Others’. On the BBC Website they are grouped together on the national overview, so we’ll have to drop into the regional level to see how it divvies up. I’ll pick the South East region for two reasons, firstly, it is where I live and secondly. . . because it is my blog and I feel like it.
Here, the Big 4 (for the purposes of Europe) all suffered losses in their share, Conservatives lost 0.4%, UKIP lost 0.7%, Limp Dems lost 1.2% and Labour bucked the national trend by only waving goodbye to 5.4%. A better showing from the Greens in the SE where they perked-up by 3.8% and the BNP came in right on the average of a 1.4% gain, But even that doesn’t add up to the losses suffered by the established parties, all down the list the real minority parties have picked up around 0.5% to 1.4%. What I’m trying to do is make some sense of it all.
Are these ‘protest’ votes? Does the scatter gun pattern to these increases suggest that the electorate is saying ‘I’ll vote for you because you aren’t the big corrupt parties?
Are these votes that are going to parties after the electorate, having decided againt their old tribal affiliations, have then taken the time to investigate and feel some affinity with?
Are the electorate just closing their eyes and sticking a pin in the ballot paper?
Have the electorate come to the conclusion that they can bring about the removal of the most unpopular PM of all time from No. 10?
What is for sure is that a snap election could prove very uncomfortable for all the major parties, and despite Cameron and Clegg’s bluster, I don’t think either of them want an election anytime soon. They think that between now and May the outrage over expenses will die down. But I think it goes deeper than that, I really do think that the expenses scandal has caused a lot of people to re-examine their relationship with their traditional party, it has been a catalyst rather than the story in its entirety. I don’t think they like what they see, What they see is a Labour party that for the last 15 years has divorced itself from its traditional constituency, a Conservative party that is so light on policy that a strong breeze could carry them away and a Lib Dem party that has made no headway since the last election. There are no major idealogical differences between them.
One thing is for certain, following a catastrophic local election showing and a European campaign which has seen the BNP pick up seats in what is squarely Labour territory, Brown’s ‘meeting’ with the back-benchers could be explosive this evening. These people are now fearful for their jobs, forget retaining power, that has gone, and their position will not improve with Brown staying on another 11 months. Whether Brown wants to go or not is irrelevant, if the back-benchers decide they have to cut him loose to save themselves, that is exactly what they would do, and it would be nigh impossible to pass off a third PM in one term.