A seismic shift felt in the UK European Elections

Politics is a funny old game. They say a week is a long time in politics, but 24 hours can, and as the results of the European election has shown, seen a seismic shift in voting patterns from that of the local government elections. As I said  in my previous post At the local election, UKIP made small but noticeable gains. Unlike the Cons and Lib Dems who had their numbers of Councillors cut.

The European elections returned a completely different picture with UKIP winning this election. It is being said this result is the first time since 1910 when the two main parties have not won a national election.  This is a huge shockwave which is reverberating across the country. These results might not be an earthquake, but tea cups and windows are certainly rattling in response.

In Cornwall  – who elects six MEPs – we saw UKIP top the polls. However, they were unable to add to their existing two MEP’s. The Conservatives lost one seat, and now have two. Labour and the Greens took the remaining two places with one MEP apiece. The Lib Dems where Cornwall is seen as one if not their power base (three MPs and  jointly running the local authority) came third in Cornwall and fifth in the South West. The overall South West result saw the Lib Dems lose their MEP who has held his seat for the last 20 years.

The results for Cornwall with a turnout of 36% are:

  • UKIP – 53,943
  • Conservative Party – 37,698
  • Lib Dems – 17,840
  • Green Party – 16,398
  • Labour Party – 16,122
  • An Independence from Europe – 2,530
  • English Democrats – 1,323
  • BNP – 1,106

The results by total numbers of votes for the whole of the South West are:

  • UKIP – 484,184
  • Conservative Party – 433,151
  • Labour Party – 206,124
  • Green Party –  166,447
  • Lib Dems – 160,376

Compare this to the results from 2009 ( 3 Cons, 2 UKIP and 1 LD) the changes in percentage terms are: UKIP: +10.6%; Labour Party: +5.6%; Green Party: +1.7%; Lib Dem: -6.1%; Conservative Party: -o.6%

The national picture sees UKIP taking the largest share with 24 (+11) MEPs this is followed by the Labour Party 20; the Conservative Party 19; Lib Dem 1; Green Party 3; SNP 2 ; Plaid 1.  It is clear who the winner was with 28% of the vote. It is also clear who was the greater loser; with the Lib Dems having a disaster by losing 10 MEPs and now has a solidity one MEP. Though to be fair the Conservatives lost 7 MEP’s and have the first time in history came third in a national election. So it was not a good night for the two government parties.

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UKIP vote change

I am no political pundit,  and you can dismiss my waffle, but it is clear people’s voting pattern changes depending on what they are voting for. The local elections saw people voting along the main party lines. However, the European election saw this turned on its head with UKIP winning the day. The question is why?

Is the European vote seen as a more protest vote to warn the main parties you need to talk about the issue that concern the masses? Even if some of those issues are on immigration and the perception of a federalist Europe? Maybe the rise of UKIP is because the main parties had fudged the issue of Europe and people want to have a say. I have heard both the out of Europe and pro-Europe camp say let’s have a proper debate and vote. Then the country can just get on with it in or out of Europe.

It is funny how both the Scottish Government and Westminster are supporting a vote on independence and the possible break-up of the Union, but neither will allow a vote on membership of Europe? Something is wrong and looks like politicians do not trust the public to make an informed choice and vote accordingly on the issue of Europe. It is the fear factor the political elite might not get a result they like? Maybe this is the reason why the election is returning these results.

A surprise result is UKIP have an MEP in Scotland. This is more of a surprise because UKIP do not have anyone elected to the Scottish Government, or even a Councillor in local government. In Wales, a Labour heartland,  we saw UKIP narrowly beaten into second place by 0.62% of the vote. It is clear UKIP are not seen just as an ‘English’ party.

Across Europe many of the more anti-federalist parties have made gains. Denmark and France are the most prominent right-wing winners; the latter saw the National Front taking 25% of the vote. It is being reported that 30% of the under 30’s voted for the National Front. The ruling French party was beaten into third place.  It is not only right-wing parties taking the honours, Greece has voted for a far-left party. The thread of many of the results is more on self-determination by ‘mother parliaments’ and less on federalism. Again to be fair and balanced,  the majority of the MEP’s both left and right are your more pro-european than anti. So I doubt we will suddenly see a huge change of direction in Europe.

I would say the most shocking part in all this and the local election is the poor turnout. For the UK, we are looking like a 35% turnout. One figure I saw was for Poland who are reporting a 23% turnout. They say you get the representation you vote for. I say it is more like you get the representation because the majority do not vote.

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Something must be done about the poor turnout. It is hard to look at the voter turnout for local elections as boundaries have changed. But you can look at the results of the general election when in 1950 the turnout was 83.9%  and has dropped to a turnout of 65.1% in 2010. The 2001  General Election saw the worse result with a turnout of 59%. And let’s not get started on the Police and Crime Commissioner Election when we saw a 15% turnout. My plea is use your vote, and make it count.

Lastly, I talked about the knives being out in my last blog, but before the European results it was more of butter knives. Now, it seems some real sharp knives are being wielded which will cut. How deep these knives will cut will come apparent in the next few days and weeks. But from the news today it looks like sharp knives are being openly wielded.

 With the General Election a little over 350 days away there is a lot to play for especially in Cornwall where all six parliamentary seat are marginal and could go either way. So I expect a lot of soul searching and campaign planning in the coming months.

Political earthquake, tremor, or just hype?

You cannot open a newspaper, turn on the tv, or listen to the radio not to be bombarded by stories of the recent local government and European elections. Words of earthquake, and other hysterical type of words are being bandied around. A few days after the polls have closed, we now have the calls for Leader X and Y to stand down; or pacts and deals to be made. It seems you cannot have an election without a bit of backstabbing, blame game and leadership assassinations.

Maybe if more effort was made getting people to vote, rather than dissect the results to a microscopic level, we would get a greater turn out of people voting. Is it really good enough that 65% of the electorate did not vote at these elections? My answer is no it is not. In fact, it is embarrassing and a sad reflection of voting in this country.

For instance I went out last night to celebrate a friends 25th wedding anniversary, and in the general chit-chat many of the responses on the recent elections were: ‘what’s the point’, ‘they never listen‘ or ‘my vote would not change anything.’ I got to the point of stopping explaining why it is important to vote. Is this apathy, or just disengagement with the political establishment? The answer probably includes both. However, it was interesting to hear people saying we voted for you because we know you. Maybe thats one of the answers, people to know the real person behind the political spin.

Anyway the point of this blog is to also look at the political make up of Local Government in England post this election. And which party has the bragging rights to the most Councillors. The following figures comprises of Councillors from primary authorities – County, Unitary, London Boroughs, Metropolitan Boroughs and District Council’s. These figures do not include town and parish councils.

For at bit of trivia*, there are roughly 21,000 democratically elected Councillors (England and Wales). With 11,000 town, parish and community councils plus the 468 local authorities in the UK.

The total number of Councillors in England**by political party is as follows:

  • CON – 8,076
  • LAB – 6,152
  • LD – 2,117
  • UKIP – 368
  • Green – 156
  • Other – 1,179

  election

This is broken-down further by those different primary authorities in England

  • County Council – Con 934; Lab 382; LD 253; UKIP 135; Green 19; Other 88
  • Unitary – Con 1190; Lab 1178; LD 390; UKIP 58; Green 37; Other 265
  • London Borough – Con 608; Lab 1033; LD 115; UKIP 12; Green 3; Other 32
  • Metropolitan – Con 368; Lab 1746; LD 191, UKIP 37; Green 30; Other 73
  • District Council – Con 4976; Lab 1813; LD 1168; UKIP 126; Green 67; Other 721

It is clear to see who the two largest parties are. It is also clear to see there is no sudden political break through of UKIP. But it should be acknowledged like in Cornwall Council’s case, and who in 2009 (Cornwall became a single tier Unitary in this year) had no UKIP Councillors to having six Councillors at Cornwall Council after the 2013 local election, that UKIP are gaining seats. It is going to be very interesting to see the European election results to see if UKIP win the day, or like in the local elections, make a small gain in the number of seats they currently hold.

The real mission should now be to convince as many of the 65% of voters who are not voting, to vote. Maybe politics should be less about the hype and soundbites, and talk about the subjects that matter to the people. And by people I mean not only those who make the loudest noise, but those who go about their daily business, but still have opinion and want politicians to listen to them. Which possibly why UKIP are now seen as the protest vote.

Burke’s quote rings true today as it did in the 18th Century:

“Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle. . . chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field; that, of course, they are many in number; or that, after all, they are other than the little,shriveled, meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome _insects_ of the hour. 

Could this be the reason why people are voting the way they are? It is certainly no earthquake, but it is a small tremor and which politicians should pay heed to.

Information in this blog sourced from various places including:
*LGIU
 **much of the source from HERE

Suffrage and why it’s important

As someone who has been involved with local government for the last eight years, I can speak with some experience of why voting is important. I have also exercised my right to vote since I came of age. My first real memories of an election campaign was that of the 1979 General Election. Though to be honest, I never thought I would ever stand for election let alone be elected.

You might think the UK and it often name-tag ‘Mother of Parliaments’ has been an exemplar of democracy. It has not. Until 1832, only 10% of the population in the UK had the right to vote. After this date real reform started to take shape. However still in 1884, a man with the wealth of £10 could only vote. In today’s money you would have to have near £1000 (historic standard of living to buy household items like food etc) to vote.

Then in 1918, all men over 21 and women over 30 could vote. This changed in 1928 when the universal age of voting was set at 21. It was not until 1969 when the age of voting was reduced from 21 to 18. That’s a quick history, but now on to the point of the blog post.

I often hear why bother to vote. It changes nothing. This often comes from those who do not vote. I can tell you voting does change things. I know from my own experience how this happens. But one thing can be sure is not voting will not change a thing. Is that what people want? If so, then stop moaning.

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Sometimes when a person is giving me their opinions on the Government, town council and the local authority, I ask did you vote? When the answer is no, then I say why are you moaning when you having been bothered to take 10 minutes out of your day maybe once every few years and put a tick in one, or if you want ‘spoil your ballot’ which is seen as exercising your vote but not voting for ‘none of the above.’

Today in Cornwall we can vote in the European Elections, but for many parts of England there are local elections too. So take 10 minutes of your day, walk/drive to your polling and exercise your vote.

It might be stating the obvious, but others have given their lives both in the real sense and those who have and are still campaigning to make democracy work and allow people suffrage. Which sadly does not exist in many parts of the world.

Go Vote and make a difference

Euro Elections, the Candidates and the Parties for the South West

The European Elections will be soon upon us with the Polling day set for the 22nd May. This election comes around every five years and the last one coincided with the first Unitary Elections for Cornwall Council. The UK gets to elect 73 MEP’s out of a total of 751 a slight reduction of 15 MEP’s since the last election. These 751 MEP are drawn from the 28 Member States, and will represent a staggering 500 million people.

Last time round, the South West elected six MEP’s. These were: Giles Chichester (Conservative), Ashley Fox (Conservative), Julie Girling (Conservative), Trevor Colman (UKIP), William, Earl of Dartmouth  UKIP) and Graham Watson (Lib Dem). The turnout for the South West was 1,549,708 from an electorate of 3,998,479. A 38% turnout. Which is remarkably low considering the influence the European Parliament has.

So who is standing and who are they standing for? Well you are in luck, as like all Elections in the UK, a Statement or Parties and Individual Candidates has been produced.

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The South West Region comprises  Bristol, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire. It also includes the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar and is one of the nine UK Regions for the European Elections. Unlike National and Local Elections, which are carried out via the ‘first past the post’ method, the Euro elections are carried out (in the UK) by the D’hondt method.  If you want to know more, click on the previous link, but for those don’t want to, this method is proportional representation via a party list.

So who will take the honours for the South West?  The polls can all predict who might win, but that is up to those voting, and therefore why it is important to excercise your vote.  For the eagle eyed only two Candidates are from Cornwall and one of them is my friend and former Cornwall Councillor colleague, Jude Robinson. Good Luck Jude, though it is a shame you are so far down the party list. It is interesting to note too, the Olympic rower James Cracknell is standing for the Cons.

In fact out of the 48 Candidates, 11 of them have their registered address outside of the South West. Though to be fair, one lives in Gibraltar which is totally understandable considering Gib is part of the South West Region.

Porthleven Town Council Needs You!

Porthleven Town Council has now publicly advertised the two town councillor positions which were not filled at the recent local elections in May this year. Those interested are requested to send a letter/email to the town clerk by no later than the 26th June. In that correspondence, candidates should outline any information they feel is relevant to the becoming a town councillor.

For me it is very disappointing these two positions were not filled at the elections. Many people can sometime have a lot to say, but when it comes to actually stepping forward and becoming part of the solution you can (metaphorically) see the tumbleweed roll past. The good news is Porthleven Town Council does have two new members. So it could have been a lot worse.

Hopefully the town council will see a host of applicants for these two positions. However, I will settle for just two; as that way we can at least have a full complement at the town council.

For more information you can ring the town clerk on: 01326 573154

Cornwall Council Election Turnout

As with any election the turnout varies, this could because a few reasons like high profile local issues and whether or not there is another election taking place at the same time. For Cornwall the main election was for Cornwall Council, but there was also many town and parish elections too.

I think we all wish the turnout is high, however the reality is very different with the turnout rarely above 50% for local elections. I always find this strange as the local council like Cornwall Council has so much influence on people’s day to day lives. I would say more than our actual government.

So how was the turnout for the 123 Cornwall Council seats?

Top five Cornwall Council Division voter turnouts

  • Rame Peninsula – 49%
  • Looe West, Lansallos – 48%
  • Roseland – 48%
  • Feock & Playing Place – 47%
  • Menheniot – 38%

Bottom five Cornwall Council Division voter turnout

  • Newquay Central – 18%
  • Redruth Central – 21%
  • St Dennis and Nanpean – 21%
  • Newquay Treloggan – 22%
  • Redruth North – 23%

For my local area the turn out is as follows:

  • For Porthleven and Helston West – 32%
  • Helston North – 36%
  • Helston South – 27%

The big question is how do we increase voter turnout? I find it really hard to understand why people cannot take 10 minutes to turn up at a polling station and vote. Furthermore, there is an even more simpler way to vote via the postal vote. This method has your ballot papers sent to you and all you have to do it put an X in the box and post is back to electoral services. Simple.

Anyone got the solution?

And that was the Election

They say a week is a longtime in politics, but I would say a day can change everything too. Take Polling Day and the actual count. In Cornwall, the count is taken the day after the polls close. A sensible decision, and one I fully support. However, for a candidate it has to be one of the most nerve-racking day you will endure. It really is all or nothing. So how did it turn out?

Before a vote was cast the make up of Cornwall Council was going to change, as 25 Councillors did not see re-election. Many of these former colleagues will be missed, but I understand why they did not seek re-election. Now it turns out that out of 123 Councillors, 53 will be new. Though to be fair, quite a few have served on either a District, or County Council.

The actual make up of the Council using the election results is as follows:

Now this could change a little, as it has been known people do cross the floor and join other groups/parties soon after an election. I think two will cross the floor, in the next few weeks/months. Those elected at Independent do not always come together in a Independent Group. Some like to standalone. So while the Independents seem to have the second largest gang, it might not work out that way.

So where does that leave the Council? Well not one group has the majority to form a Cabinet and elect a Leader of the Council. Two things could happen now; one of the groups tries to form a minority Council, or there is another coalition between one or more of the groups. I would be surprised if one group tired to form a minority administration, but you never know. That leaves the most likely scenario as a coalition.

e Conservative Group went to the largest group, to the third largest. From the 2009 election when they had 50 Councillors, they have gone down to 31.

We did it!

We did it, yes I said we, as without the support from the local community I would not have been re-elected. So the first thing I must do is to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who gave support and took the time to vote. I have now had a few days to recharge and I am feeling a lot better and full of energy after a long and exhausting campaign.

The second thing is to say well done to the other candidates who stood in the Porthleven and Helston West election. It must be upsetting not to win, but you should be proud that you stood up and put your name on the ballot paper.

For those who do not know the official result, they are as follows:

Andrew Wallis (Ind) – 706 (65%)
Liz Lane (Con) – 189 (17%)
Steven Gough (UKIP) – 156 (14%)
Richard Goedegebuur (LD) – 35 (3%)

I am still quite staggered at the winning margin, and again thank people for having faith in me.

The number of people who voted was 1086 out of 3401, which comprised of 521 postal voters. There was also 5 spoilt ballot papers. More details HERE

The new Council officially takes office on Tuesday, but for me the work has already started with current and new casework that needs to be addressed.

Finally, I am pleased to say normal blogging service can now resume and look forward to being your Councillor again in this term of office.

A Nervous Wait

The campaign is over, after the Polling Station closed at 10pm last night. It has been a long three weeks of sore feet and wearing out the soles of my shoes. Even though my body feels tired, I have enjoyed the process.

Booted and spurred at the Polling Station. And yes I do own a tie!

Booted and spurred at the Polling Station. And yes I do own a tie!

Before the count, which starts today at 10am, I would like to thank the many people who have helped me during the campaign. Being an Independent candidate is tough, as you have no party support. So any help, is warmly received.

I have always delivered my own leaflets by hand, as I have always thought if you want people to vote for you, you have to give everyone a leaflet. I guess it is impossible to guarantee 100% delivery, and those who have somehow slipped the net, I apologies.

Yesterday was a long day, as I was stood outside the Polling Station from 7am till 10pm. One thing military training teaches you, is how to stand on your feet for long periods of time. That training was a godsend yesterday.

As for yesterday, it was good to see so many people turn out and vote. For the Porthleven Polling Station it was 638 people, out of 2500 on the electoral register. I am sorry I could not be at both Polling Stations. It is just impossible to be a two places at once. Hopefully those people at the Helston West Polling Station understand.

As for the result, I will know probably early afternoon. From the responses at the Polling Station in Porthleven I am positive, but you just never know. I really hope people have had the faith in me again and re-elected me.

Thank you again for voting.

All Quiet on the Blogging Front

Let me apologise for being quiet on the blogging front. This is due to the forthcoming election on the 2nd May, and I am out and about knocking on doors, talking to residents and delivering my leaflets. I am sure people do not want to just hear about how many doors I knocked, or leaflets I have delivered today. So that is the reason my blog has been quiet.

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I will say, the response I am getting on the doorstep is very positive. Only one person did not want a leaflet, but that was not because of me (phew), as they said they never vote. There is still lots to do until the Polling Stations are open in 10 days time. Though postal voters should have received their forms now.

Hopefully normal blogging will resume after the elections when with residents support I am re-elected.

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