Friday, May 16, 2008

More details

I don't know if anyone is still reading this so long after the election but the London Elects site has just published a breakdown of the votes for the three elections (mayor, list members, constituency members) at
This is an excel file that is not that easy to follow unless you know what you're looking for (we're candidate No 4 for Lambeth and Southwark). Anyway, here for the record, and in more readable form, are the highlights from Lambeth and Southwark constituency election.

Labour 30625
LibDems 17921
Tory 17319
Greens 9759
Christian 2114
UKIP 1153
LeftList 1081
SOC 917 (1.1%)
Animals 899
EngDems 698

Labour 29976
LibDems 19032
Tory 15516
Greens 8252
Christian 2318
UKIP 1859
EngDems 1169
Animals 929
LeftList 875
SOC 671 (0.8%)

Clearly, we're more popular in Lambeth than Southwark (while Animals and English Nationalists are more popular in Southwark). Which makes sense since we've been contesting parliamentary and local elections there for years and most of our election leaflets were distributed there.

Our prize result was in the Larkhall ward in Lambeth, roughly the area between Clapham North and Stockwell tube stations (postal votes not included):

Labour 1287
Tory 652
LibDems 390
Greens 370
Christian 98;
SOC 71 (2.3%)
LeftList 50
Animals 45
EngDems 25

To be complete our best result in Southwark was in Faraday ward. Don't know why. Don't even know where it is without checking:

Labour 1333
LibDem 459
Tory 355
Green 196
Christian 128
EngDems 59
SOC 39 (1.4%)
LeftList 37
Animals 22

Just checked. It's part of Walworth. Maybe it reflects the outdoor speaking station we ran at East Street from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Our worst result was in Surrey Docks ward of Southwark, now inhabited by yuppies, where we only got 18 votes. But at least we got more than double the number who voted for the LeftList (aka SWP), whose 8 votes was the lowest number cast for any candidate in any ward.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

A day at the count

On Friday Bill and me spent nearly 12 hours at the count, from 11 in the morning till half-ten at night when the result for our constituency was announced (though I must admit to slinking off for a couple of hours in the afternoon). We could have stayed longer to hear Boris announced as mayor and the BNP announced as having an Assembly member.

The count took place at Olympia, not just for Lambeth and Southwark but for 5 other constituencies in the western part of London. Other counts were taking place in Alexandra Palace and the Millenium Dome (which we are now supposed to call the O2 dome after the mobile phone company). The mayor and party list votes were counted by constituency and then transmitted to city hall for collation (the old county hall is now an aquarium). So we saw these too.

As the count was to be done electronically we were met not by the traditional rows of counters seated at tables but by rows of people seated before computers and scanners into which they fed the ballot papers. This was supposed to be faster. May it was, but it wasn't fast enough for the media (too bad) as no results were ready for Newsnight let alone the 6 o'clock or the 10 o'clock news.

One fascinating side effect of this was that spoilt or unclear ballot papers were projected onto a large screen which anybody present could see. Previously, such papers were only seen by the election agents going into a huddle. So we spent much of the day sitting or standing in front of these screens (not just for Lambeth and Southwark and not just for the constituency election but also for the mayor and the party lists) looking at these papers as they came up, as did everybody else. In other words, these papers assumed more importance than the valid ones. Though there were other screens showing, as a bar chart, how each party was doing in each constituency (the equivalent of the old piles of ballot papers as a clue to who was in front).

Most of the papers were rejected because the voter had voted for more than one candidate. Some of these combinations were bizarre. People voting for both Boris and Ken or for the BNP and the Left List, but others were more logical, eg voting for the Greens and Labour or for the Liberals and Labour or for the Tory and the Liberal (there seemed to be quite a lot of these last ones, indicating what was going to happen, ie that more of the Liberal's second preference votes for the mayor were going to go to Boris).

Others deliberately spoilt their papers by writing "None of the above" (sometimes at the top of the paper) or "None of these represent me" or "Nobody" or "Void" or "spoilt paper" or "Bollocks, Crap to the lot of them". Others wrote in the name of some party not standing (as we do). We noticed a few for the BNP and one for the SLP (presumably the Scargill Labour Party not the DeLeonists , but you never know) and one for Anarchism. There was one paper in our constituency marked "SOCIALISM - SPGB" (perhaps some out of touch supporter, but perhaps a disgruntled ex-member). One person cast a write-in vote for Mugabe and others for various popstars and DJs and, I nearly forgot, for Jesus and Jehovah (not sure if these are the same person). There were quite a few blank papers.

All these must be regarded as deliberate abstentions but this is not the way non-valid papers are recorded. They are simply divided into "rejected votes" and "blank votes". It has to be admitted that most votes were rejected for voting for more than one candidate, which may well have been intentional but against the rules. Overall, there were 2,406,289 valid votes, plus 47,799 (2%) rejected votes and 39,894 blank papers(1.7%). In Lambeth and Southwark the figures were 163,762, 2583 (1.6%) and 1919 (1.2%).

In our constituency there was the scandal (recorded here in a previous blog) of the polling clerks in one polling station writing the elector's number on the ballot paper. What idiots. There were some 130 of these but, on legal advice, they were all ruled invalid on the grounds that this allowed the voter to be identified (again, against the rules). This, even though the vote was otherwise clear enough. This deprived us of at least 3 votes. 3 out of 130 is quite a lot (for us) but we know which ward was involved (Larkhall, turn right out of Clapham North tube station instead of left for Head Office). Maybe this has identified a ward to contest at the next borough elections. In fact, we are going to get a breakdown of votes per ward. Which will help us see if we got more votes in the wards we leafletted compared with the wards we didn't.

The fact that, with electronic counting, spoilt papers are now seen by many more people suggests that we should take our policy of writing "WORLD SOCIALISM - SPGB" across our ballot papers more seriously (looking at the rejected votes in the London South West constituency suggests that the 10 or so members living there didn't do this, but simply abstained). Even 10 of these in one constituency would be noticed and commented on.

Everybody was there, including the BNP (East End taxi drivers and barrow boys in suits) and the Christian Party (an African in robes). When there was a disputed BNP vote, the UKIP counting agents were in favour of accepting it, all the others were against. (We weren't involved as there was no BNP candidate standing in Lambeth and Southwark). I have to confess to talking civilly to a BNP agent and to making a gaffe when another African in robes asked for the result of the vote for his party in Lambeth and Southwark. I gave him the result of the Christian Party. It turned out he was the Left List candidate in the London West constituency (since the split with Galloway the SWP has turned to blacks rather than Muslims as their targeted minority but with hardly any success).

Galloway retained a following from Muslims in East London but everywhere else was beaten by the Christian party. Logical enough, I suppose, since it you are going to try to split the working class on religious lines there are more Christians than Muslims in this part of the world. In fact Galloway was also beaten by those who wanted to abolish the congestion charge. It's hard to think of an ambitious politician like him sticking for long with the electoral failure Respect is turning out to be for him.

Will Boris as mayor make any difference? Well, Ken's cronies will be kicked out of city hall . . . to be replaced by Boris's (under the US-style spoils system). Gas-guzzlers (or large family cars as Boris calls them) will not be charged extra for entering the congestion charge zone. It's doubtful that bendy buses will, as promised, be replaced by a new-style Routemaster with a conductor. After all, who's going to pay, and it is difficult to see the Tories imposing more costs on the bus companies. Otherwise life will continue as before.

The next elections will be those for the European Parliament in June next year where the constituencies are even bigger and when the count could last even longer. Anybody want to be the Party's Election Agent?

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The list votes

Found the party list vote in the constituency:

The Labour Party 58554
Conservative Party 33466
Liberal Democrats 28071
Green Party 20711
British National Party 4945
The Christian Choice 4823
Abolish the Congestion Charge 4603
Respect (George Galloway) 2910
Left List 1846
UK Independence Party 1757
English Democrats 1255
Unity for Peace & Socialism 499
One London (Leader Damian Hockney) 254
Independent 68

Technical and Turnout for Lambeth and Southwark
Good votes 163762
Rejected votes 2583
Blank votes 1919
Total votes 166345

The term "good votes" is taken from the official "London elects" site and wouldn't be mine. I think they mean "valid votes".

More figures from Lambeth and Southwark

Here's how the electors of Lambeth and Southwark voted in the mayor election:

Livingstone LAB 80,172 48.92
Johnson CON 47,754 29.14
Paddick LD 20,530 12.53
Berry GRN 7,190 4.39
Craig CPA 2,838 1.73
Barnbrook BNP 2,448 1.49
German LL 1,199 0.73
Batten UKIP 848 0.52
O'Connor END 506 0.31
McKenzie IND 392 0.24

Figures for the party list votes were posted last night on a screen at Olympia where the count took place but I've not been able to find them anywhere else. All I noted were the percentages of the some of the lists and the votes given to Respect George Galloway and the Left List:

BNP 3.02%
Christian 2.91
Abolish Congestion Charge 2.81
Respect 1.78 (2910 votes)
Left List 1.13 (1846 votes)
"Peace and Socialism" (Old CP) 0.30 (499 votes)

Also perhaps relevant is that the Militant Tendency candidate in nextdoor Greenwich and Lewisham got 1587 votes.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Late, late result

Here's the result, declared an hour or so ago, at least 4 hours later than expected:

Labour 60 601
Liberal 36 953
Con 32 835
Green 18 011
Christian 4432
UKIP 3012
LeftList 1956
EngDems 1867
Animals 1828
Socialist 1588

Anecdotes and analysis follow tomorrow morning

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Not what we meant

Certainly not in Lambeth:

A May Day greeting

It's a bit embarrassing really. After all the slagging off of Militant and their candidate next door in Greenwich and Lewisham (mind you, their man on Urban75 had a good go at us), we've had the following email from the Militant candidate there under the title "All the best of luck to Danny Lambert" :

"Hi Danny
Got a flyer through my door re your standing in Lambeth and Southwark
So just to say all the best
Hope you get a good turn out
Have a good Mayday weekend too
Your in solidarity
Cllr Chris Flood
Socialist Party (E&W)
Lewisham Council
GLA Socialist Alternative Candidate, Lewisham and Greenwich"

He seems a decent enough bloke but, as there are serious political differences between our two parties, we can't return the greetings, at least not the part wishing us a good turn out. But we can wish him and all other fellow workers a happy international workers day.

A not so secret ballot

Well, it happened, ten past seven this morning - I know, I lknow, I slept in a little coz I'm on holiday - I went and cast my ballot for world socialism. My polling station had moved from the primary school to the church run nursery across the road.

I was greeted by a chart asking "How tall are you" and the good news is that I am considerably taller than all those five year olds.

Actually, I wrote "World Socialism (SPGB)" on all three of my ballot papers in large friednly letter, and put them nicely, unfolded, into the box. I chose to add the little rider for two reasons:
  • Because I've heard canny agents have occasionally blagged World Socialism for Labour or leftist candidates, and I wanted to make sure.
  • Because at the count spoilt ballots are displayed on a screen, and I wanted to advertise.

    The polling staff must have guessed I was up to something, because I was in that booth scribbling for ages.

    I didn't, as some members have in the past, poke my head out and ask how you spell "Bastards", I just quietly got on with business and then went about my day, another of my small lifetime ration of votes used up, and still unable to vote positively for the party of my choice.

    Only Labour had a polling agent outside, I cheerfully let him know my polling card number - half the point of the write-in vote is to positively let it be known that we've been to cast a vote, a good discrepency between tallied voters and valid votes cast sends a significant message.

    Good luck, fellow socialists.