13 February 2014

Wythenshawe and Sale East - the result

I didn't get to sleep until the result was in and here it is:

LAB – 55.5% (+11.1)
UKIP – 18.0% (+14.5)
CON – 14.3% (-11.5)
LDem – 4.9% (-17.6)
GRN – 3.1% (+3.1)
BNP - 3.0% (-0.9)
MRLP - 1.2%

Firstly, a big thank you to Nigel and his team once again. The alternative to us standing was not to have stood a candidate. We've had some media exposure (although not on a par with the Liberal Democrats) which will have reached people. We also had a candidate standing for the first time since 2001 and improving on the result we got back then, even though historically we do worse in byelections than in a full General Election.

If we hadn't stood, the Lib Dems would probably have held their deposit, avoiding a raft of unpleasant headlines today and people would have asked why had we not stood with the Euros just three months away. What does the result tell us?

The turnout is probably comparable with what we should expect in the Euros, but the dynamics will be different. In this election, the media had decided before the election had started, that the only story would be about whether UKIP could challenge Labour. Under FPTP that pushes people down a narrow path. There will be people who will vote Green and Lib Dem at the Euros who backed Labour, fearing the prospect of UKIP winning a seat, particularly at the time Postal Ballots were being cast. Similarly, UKIP probably attracted BNP supporters who thought they could win.

We still have work to do, but this result reinforces my view that we will be competing with both the Liberal Democrats and the BNP for the final seat in the North West region, with the potential to win with a 7.5 to 9% share of the vote. Those that predict that the BNP are gone and finished are not paying attention to this result. Despite huge coverage for UKIP, the BNP vote share dropped only by a small amount, and those are the voters they can probably win back in a proportional election.

A final point here, and it is for NO2EU and the SLP in the North West. It is almost certainly the case that had a socialist candidate also stood in this election, they would have gained 0.5 to 1% of the vote. That would have come from people who voted Labour, people who voted Green and some people who couldn't bring themselves to vote this time or spoiled their ballots. The effect would have been to drop the Greens below the BNP.

A decision to stand a list in the North West will have an effect and once again I urge all anti-racist political parties on the left to engage in dialogue with me or the Greens. Together, we stand a much better chance of ensuring Griffin is ejected from the European Parliament.

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