The raw data for the whole of Wales:
Rarely can ‘no change’ (as in seat allocation) involve quite so much change!!
Before I have a stab at what it all might mean, let me pull out some facts:
- Turnout increased by almost 50,000.
- Only 8.9% and 8.7% of the Welsh electorate voted for Labour and UKIP respectively.
- Only 4.8% and 1.4% of the Welsh electorate voted for Plaid Cymru and the Greens respectively.
- Labour beat UKIP by a mere 4350 votes.
- Plaid Cymru came within about 7500 votes of losing their seat.
- The drop in the Green vote mirrored what happened nationally (-1%) and remained in the mid 30,000s in Wales.
- Only Labour and UKIP increased their votes from 2009.
- Labour may have increased their vote by over 67,000, but they are still more than 90,000 behind what they polled in 2004.
So what does it all mean?
Personally, I feel vindicated in appealing for Greens to support Jill Evans (Plaid Cymru lead candidate) https://bridgendgreens.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/eu-election-in-wales-too-tight-to-call-use-your-vote-wisely/. It seems unlikely that I swayed more than a few hundred votes, but this could have proven critical. (The downward trend in PC support is something that should concern us, given that it is not coming our way). Furthermore, had Greens got behind the call in more substantial numbers, we could have ensured that it was the Tory in jeopardy, rather than Jill. It also makes Pippa Bartolotti’s blatant misinformation regarding the state of the polls, and her prospects of winning a seat, all the more embarrassing. I suspect, however, she was fooling nobody but herself.
It is clear that only UKIP has anything to crow about. But that has to be kept into context. They have come from polling less than 20,000 votes in 1999 to more than 10 times that in 15 years, but it still represents just 8.7% of the electorate. Of course, we in the Green Party would be ecstatic with such figures, but what does it say about the state of our democracy when a few people jumping onto a bandwagon of jingoistic scapegoaters becomes seen as a game changer?
UKIP gained 114,000 additional votes, but the Tories lost 17,000; the BNP lost 30,000 and No2EU lost 6,000. That little bunch if right-wingers adds up to 53,000 that switched allegiance – 13,000 to the fascists of Britain First, and 40,000 probably to UKIP. Add a big chunk of the 50, 000 that didn’t vote last time and we have probably explained about half the UKIP gains.
It is hard to imagine many Plaid, Greens, or Socialists switching to UKIP. Collectively they lost about 26,000 votes. I know some of all these parties supporters switched to Labour, and this averted the danger of of not just UKIP coming top in Wales, but potentially (as looked quite likely in some polls) that UKIP could take two seats in Wales!
I suspect that a big chunk of the disillusioned 44,000 that abandoned the Lib Dems probably did not bother to vote at all, and who could blame them. It is probably just as well, as if they had all switched to Labour, Jill Evans would have probably lost her PC seat. But to my astonishment, it seems that quite a few did switch to UKIP too (see below). I have anecdotal evidence of this in Bridgend as well. I would have thought their association with Tories would have been toxic enough for them, but it seems that some have developed a rabid right-wing streak!
This leaves the biggest mess of all in the shape of the Labour vote. They have regained 67,000 votes, which sounds good, but are still 90,000 short of their 2004 vote, which sounds terrible, given the respective fortunes of the governments of the day. Labour have picked up some tactical left wing votes in attempt to block off the UKIP surge, but they will not necessarily hang on to these. And the real worry is the reality of them beginning to haemorrhage the ‘working class’ vote to UKIP. It is difficult not to get a bit condescending about this, but by their own admission UKIP have difficulty appealing to the “educated, cultural and young.” http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ukip-blames-london-election-performance-on-difficulty-appealing-to-the-educated-and-cultural-9423200.html
This is tricky, but there is no polite way of saying that voting UKIP is not smart and not in most UKIP voters self-interest. There is research out there that shows that a large proportion of UKIP voters support left-wing ideas. They should, perhaps, be voting Green!!
Another Angry Voice is the blog of an interesting character
from Yorkshire, Thomas G. Clark. His style may not be to everyone’s
taste but he usually makes valid points. See what he makes of the
Euro Election results here (his take on the Greens’ performance is interesting):
So what is it that makes these people vote UKIP? This flowchart below may appear somewhat condescending, again, but it serves to emphasise the appeal of UKIP to some people’s inner bigot. In classic scapegoating tradition, lets blame society’s ills on foreigners and gays rather than take too hard a look at ourselves. The tragedy is that in jumping on the bandwagon, people don’t look at the small print – just look at that last purple box on the flow chart?
How long before we hear the squeals of regret? After all, the BBC didn’t mention any of these points, did they? How were we supposed to know we were signing up for that?!!!
So our response to UKIP has to change. We cannot ignore them. But we can ignore their bigotry. Bigotry appeals to bigots and we have to accept (until we tackle its sources) that bigotry is alive and well in Britain today, despite the implosion of the BNP. One of Thatcher’s legacies is that greed and self-interest have become acceptable attitudes for the majority. So it is self-interest that has to be at the centre of our messages. I am not convinced that an appeal to vote “For the Common Good” will have much traction. But promoting left-wing ideas that serve the needs of the majority could well work.
Even UKIP voters see the sense of renationalising rail and energy, in terms of making them affordable and focussed on their needs rather than serving the business ‘elite’ (like HS2). Add to this protecting the principles of our NHS, enhancing rather than removing maternity/sick/holiday pay, having a living wage instead of a minimum wage, tax rises for the richest rather than the poorest, cuts in defence spending to increase education spending.
Add it all together and we may just get through to them!