Friday, July 26, 2013

A bit of psephology

Here's the result with percentages:

Labour 1575 (69.3%)
Lib Dem 277 (12.2%)
Green 177 (7.8%)
TUSC 76 (3.4%)
Con 74 (3.3%)
UKIP 64 (2.8%)
Ind 20 (0.9%)
Soc 11 (0.5%)

Turnout: 20%.

Everyone knew that this was a one-horse race, but nobody predicted (see yesterday's blog) a landslide Labour victory of this proportion. It's the sort of percentage that Labour used to get in the mining valleys of South Wales when the pits were still open. It looks as if inner London is becoming a Tory no-go ahead like the Northern cities.

Although everybody was expecting Labour to win, there were other contests going on -- LibDems v Greens for second place; UKIP v the Tories, even us v TUSC) -- and it can be seen who won these. Whether we like it or not (and we don't), in the public perception where there are two candidates describing themselves as "socialist" they are seen as rivals for the votes of those who consider themselves socialist. But not just in the public perception, but also amongst those who consider themselves socialist. Although we don't attach all that importance to the number of votes we get, it is undoubtedly true that we get more when there is not another candidate calling themselves socialist. In fact the combined vote for TUSC and us is about the same here (3.9%) as it was in the Brixton Hill by-election in January (4.1%). That would seem to be the measure of the "anticapitalist" audience.

In any event, TUSC must be pleased with the result. Finishing ahead of both UKIP and the Tories, they have shown that they can consistently get about 3% in elections with their "anti-cuts" campaign. This will be a protest vote against the cuts rather than for Trotsky's transitional programme or for Militant's strategy for combatting them and, as such, will have some significance. But 3% is not enough to launch a general strike over the issue.

UKIP will also be disappointed. This time (compared with Brixton Hill) they ran a much more professional campaign (expensively produced glossy leaflets, etc) specifically aimed at winning over Labour voters. They got nowhere. It looks as if they really are just an external faction of the Tories in rural and seaside areas, especially those with a noticeable presence of migrants from East Europe. They are not going to make a breakthrough in the big cities. It is difficult to understand why they thought that their appeal to old-fashioned Britishness was going to have an impact in a ward where, in the 2011 census, only 5116 out of a population of 15,771 (a little over 32%) put themselves down as "White British" (see here). Parties such as the BNP and them are no threat in places like this despite the fuss made about them by "anti-fascists".

One of our reasons for contesting these by-elections (apart from the wards being in walking distance of our Head Office) was to get us known more locally in preparation for next year's full borough council elections in May next year (which are going to be held on the same day as the Euroelections, which should increase the turnout a bit). We will almost definitely be contesting the Larkhall and Ferndale wards as we did last time. Ferndale ward is also in Brixton (bordered by Brixton High Street and Acre Lane). In the meantime we'll be continuing leafletting them and adding the nearby parts of Brixton Hill and Tulse Hill wards.


ajohnstone said...

As a political mandate how convincing is it when 80% didn't bother to vote.

What is the usual voter turn-out compared with other years?

ajohnstone said...

Another more positive thought...we have enough supporters in Tulse Hill for a football team!!!

Londonsocialist said...

It would have to be a mixed male/female team or a women's team as we know one of our voters was a woman as she phoned and told us.

As to usual turnout, there was a previous by-election there in July 2010 when the turnout was 21%. At the last council elections in May 2010 (held on the same day as the general election) the turnout was 59%. Next year's council elections will be held on the same day as the Euroelections, but that's not going to raise the turnout much, maybe to 30% or so.