On Sunday 6 members went to the count in the Assembly Hall next to Lambeth (ex-Brixton) Town Hall, before 2 of us moved on to the count at Southwark. We were met by the Deputy Returning Officer who knows us from previous elections we've contested in the area over the years.
The election agent was allowed to see the rejected ballot papers. Most had voted for more than one candidate, though the combination was not always comprehensible like the voter who voted UKIP and Yes to Europe. A number of others voted Labour or Liberal and Yes to Europe, presumably thinking that the Yes to Europe box near the bottom of the ballot paper was some sort of referendum on the issue. Others wrote rude things or drew rude drawings on the paper. Others wrote None of the Above. Somebody cast a write-in vote for Kylie Minogue. Curiously all these went into a pile marked "Uncertain" despite the intention of all of them being quite certain.
When the two of us went on to the Southwark count we, as candidates, were greeted as honoured guests by the Returning Officer who had not expected any candidates to turn up. However, Simon soon disagraced us by touching a ballot paper, which is absolutely banned. Also present was a tall young man with a beard and a badge saying "agent". I asked him for who and he replied, apologetically as if I might hit him, "BNP". I quipped you can't be as you've got a beard. It obviously takes all sorts.
Anyway, back to Lambeth. Here's the result:
Lib Dems 11,340
BNP 1,174 (2.04%)
SLP 653 (1.13%)
Eng Dem 488
No2EU 478 (0.83%)
Jury Team 194 4%
Cheung (Ind) 187
Jananayagam (Ind) 176
Socialist Party 158 (0.27%)
Yes 2 Europe 155
Saad (Ind) 48
Alcanatara (Ind) 46
There were 558 rejected ballot papers.
We have to confess that this was a bit of a disappointment as, in the same area last year, there'd been 917 votes cast for the Socialist candidate. So what happened to the "missing" 759 votes? The poll was lower by about a quarter this time, so that might account for 200 or so of them. And the rest? One possible explanation is that some of them were people who considered themselves socialists and who are prepared to vote for any party or candidate calling themselves "socialist" and who voted for Arthur Scargill's SLP, either because it appeared on the ballot paper before us or because they thought him or his party better than us.
Having said this, we have received a number of interesting replies to the manifesto which the post office delivered to two-fifths of the households in the borough which we'll be following up individually. Plans to contest the general election in Vauxhall, and two wards in the borough elections next May, are going ahead.