A week on and the dust has settled a bit on the results. I’d like to thank the entire North West team for their efforts, and that includes everyone who leafleted, knocked on doors and contributed to the efforts we made. There was a national swing against the Green Party of 0.75% and we lost 0.68% on our 2009 vote share (only 4,000 less votes but on an increased turnout).
We would have needed 9.2% to win a seat in 2014 (compared to 8% in 2009) and while I’m obviously disappointed with the result this time, it does confirm to me that 2009 was a simply extraordinary campaign by us just to get into contention. Had we actually managed it, history would have been different and an incumbent MEP would have had a good chance of holding on as the Lib Dem vote collapsed here in the North West.
Overall, I’d also like to thank Chris Luffingham who really did everything he could as a campaign manager nationally. Unlike 2009, he made quick and decisive decisions, used the cash available and decisions like the one to put mini-manifestos inside the Liverpool Echo a day before polling day, undoubtedly helped our 3 winning council candidates here on Merseyside.
I think Natalie Bennett had a really good election for us. She has worked incredibly hard over the 2 years since she won the leadership election and delivered on more councillors and our first increase in MEPs since 1999, despite a national swing against us. We have to acknowledge that we also got back a bit of the luck that eluded us in 2009, when we missed out narrowly in four regions. In the South West, we managed an increase in vote bucking the national tread (lots of reasons and I’ll allow SW writers to explain these), finished ahead of the Lib Dems by 6,000 ish votes, benefited from the absence of any other “left of Labour” list like NO2EU, and saw “An Independence from Europe” list take enough votes off UKIP to allow us to sneak in.
On a personal note, I’m sorry that I couldn’t match the travelling and appearances I managed from 2007 to 2009. While I did my best as lead candidate, I had to manage that along with a full time job and still seeing my family. In the previous election, I had sold my flat so I could work part time for two and a half years and that was a one off. The lead candidate can make a difference and I felt that in 2009 I was able to put us into contention. However even if I had given up my job and hit nearly every town in the North West in the last two years, it probably wouldn’t have been enough to counter the national swing and the much higher threshold to win that last seat. Had I won the leadership election, and not Natalie, then there probably would have been a boost for our region, but I think nationally we should recognise that our increase in membership, councillors and an additional MEP is a successful track record so far.
It is really vital that we start the preparations for 2019 as early as possible. My strong preference is that we start to build for that Euro Election in the North West as soon as possible, and that potential lead candidates can start putting in place plans. Like Rupert Read has admirably done in Eastern region, I think it is the right thing to let people know now that I won’t be seeking the lead nomination next time after filling this role twice. This is a hard thing to do but we need the next generation of Greens to come through, and we need to avoid incumbent lead candidates becoming “seat blockers” because they have a profile in the region. I’ll be 47 next time and hope we’ll have a new lead candidate from the next generation in the party coming through to win that seat. My role, eventually I hope as a number 2 or 3 list candidate in the North West next time, will be to use my experience to support that person between now and 2019.
You never know in politics, but there are some really exciting developments in Liverpool for me to be working on, and I’m looking forward to that challenge. I'll be writing again about the 2015 General Election and politics on Merseyside soon.