Firstly I should start by confirming, I did cast my vote for Jury Team as I had stated, and I am proud to have done so. I am of course disappointed that they have not won any seats, but I think their presence in the race had a big effect.
With the expenses scandal and the Jury Team running open primaries there has been a working comparison and calls for re-selection in certain wards. I would of course go further and re-iterate my desire for wide spread open primaries (or at the very least Party caucuses). I have read much in the last year on a lot of blogs about the need for more Independents in our legislature and the Jury Team has satisfied those calls and I think will also have an influence on the debate when we finally get a General Election.
Let us also not forget another of Jury Teams big principles, the elimination of the Whip system, which in this Parliament has enabled much unpopular legislation be passed, not leased the Lisbon Constitutional Treaty. We have not heard the last from Jury Team.
Moving up through the parties, I think the Greens did well, both they and the BNP received a straight transfer of votes from previous Labour voters. I am disappointed that the BNP has won seats, but it was bound to happen one day with the PR and Party List system. I cannot bemoan them for getting elected, it is for everyone who disagrees with the BNP to now hold a mirror up to them, their policies and activities. There emergence in mainstream politics means they have to work with the same rules as everybody else, only effective head-on debate and door-step politics will defeat them. It is often said we get the politicians we deserve, and perhaps that will become an apt phrase when reflecting on the BNP and this result.
I suspect the Lib Dems will be claiming that they did OK, but the truth is, they should have over taken Labour given the national mood. By some metrics they were close, but “close” is not good enough. With smaller parties around such as UKIP & the Greens they are not viewed as a sensible protest vote. They can perhaps be heartened that the result suggests their hardcore vote is close to matching Labours at present.
UKIP did very well and have on the whole had a good campaign. I may feel a bit foolish for again saying this openly, but I think they could get a few Westminster seats at the next General Election, and they certainly have some momentum from which to build on and a sound platform on their key issue. If they can make the General Election about the EU, and keep the Lisbon Treaty in the news then I do think they can make it a big 4 in UK politics. They may nick a few Tory votes on the way, but I think they will also nick quite a few Lib Dem ones in English regions.
There are some murmurings from the grass-roots about Nigel Farage’s leadership – I think UKIP should back Farage, not least because this is a solid result, but also because he is generally seen as likable generally performs well on TV – I am not sure UKIP have anyone as recognisable who could step into a void and do as well in what could be an impending General Election. The flip side is, if UKIP fail to make an impression in Westminster Elections they could soon be eternally doomed as a single-issue party – a label their rival parties are keen to attach already.
The Conservatives have had a fab night, and we were treated to another great Hannan TV moment when he broke into Dr Seuss. There is an argument that they could have done better, but I think given the temptation to use a protest vote, and their reluctance to speak about the EU in the preceding 4 years and 11 months, that it was a sound performance and there will be some vindication on their decision to leave the EPP grouping, which I think was the right thing to do, if a little late. The Centre right seems to have done measurably better than the centre left across Europe, whether they are in or out of power nationally, so it would be wrong for our Labour party to suggest this is simply another EU election that favoured the opposition party.
I expect that the usual Labour faces are doing the rounds on TV today [I am at work, so no TV…] saying that they do not view this result as a vote against them, but the truth is it is. Firstly, both they and the Lib Dems are wildly out of step with the views of ordinary people on the EU. They of course fear consultation on all issues relating to the EU as they see benefits that suit their politics and make decisions based as such. However, people have voted democratically and much more that 50% of that vote went to EUsecptic, or anti-EU parties. The contempt for Labour that they have and undoubtedly will show by pretending that this is not a direct message is one that now is widely recognised.
Labour are a dying party, then need to amputate a vital limb if they want to survive at all. There is still (to my continued bemusement) general support for the Labour Party, and their policies. There is no confidence however in their leader, one G. Brown. There is no opposition and no opinion poll that doesn’t back the idea of replacing Gordon Brown.
I think it is not an unfair or inconceivable statement that Labour could be relegated to the being the third party of British politics if they cannot reverse their fortunes. Last nights elections confirmed that they are polling half of the Conservative vote and could easily lose competitive battles with the Lib Dems. The Conservatives are now electable throughout the UK again, and have an appealing brand and leader. The Labour Party must break the habit of the last decade of believing they know better that the information they are being told from voters, it is an unattractive and distasteful trait that we have had to observe far too frequently. Labour Councillors were screaming during Fridays count that their experience on the door-step was that national politics was killing their vote. In other words, the Labour Grass-roots were confirming that this was a series of elections that reflect the voter’s mood towards the National Government. This was our vote of confidence. The Government failed.
If there is any semblance of dignity; any desire left to put those they serve above their own personal ambitions then the Parliamentary Labour Party need to move against their leader tonight. They need to leave him with no doubt that they are prepared to put the electorate before their party leadership; if it can still be described as such, the “decent option” should be presented as resignation. If Gordon still in charge by Wednesday, Labour will certainly face the prospect of setting an unwanted prescient of having Parliament vote to dissolve itself; a legacy that may never be recovered from, and not something that will stand as a shining example in the history books.
My final point is not about the parties but about the coverage. The BBC was late in putting a show up which is disappointing. However, the Iain & Hopi show was very good and I shall definitely make a point of tuning in again. Their coverage of the local results was very interesting and quite revealing. I was flipping between Play radio, Sky News and the BBC whilst live blogging over on A Tangled Web – by 2am I was very a very tired man but satisfied with the overall coverage available.