03 May 2008

Coventry Election Analysis -- 2008

Before any numbers mumbo-jumbo, I think the important thing is that the Coventry Green Party stood 15 candidates. That's up from 1 candidate in 2006, and 8 candidates last year. This gave 165 000 people the chance to vote Green. In the seven "new" wards, this was perhaps the first time, in local elections, where people could do that. It may have led to 160 votes here, and 4% there, but we're giving people a choice, and we're putting issues on the agenda that wouldn't be there otherwise.

The high points:

- Having 20 people help out at the count! We were interviewed by local radio and print (having the youngest candidate in the city; having a brother/sister dynamic duo as candidates), sampled ballots, and nearly got lost in the building on the way out at 345am.

- 30% of the vote at the polling station at Ramphal on the Uni of Warwick campus! This is roughly similar to last year's result.

- 14.5% of the vote in Earlsdon (3rd place); that means there is probably a core of 600 voters who have voted Green in Earlsdon for 3 straight years.

- Our best "non-target" candidate this year was Ryan Taylor, take a bow, Ryan, with 9.9% of the vote in Bablake. This was a pleasant kind of curious result, as last year in Bablake, we had 5.5% with Gianluca Grimalda (our candidate in Whoberley this year).

- Across national consitutencies, we ran in 5 wards each in Coventry South, Coventry North West and Coventry North East. Our best was Coventry South -- 1578 votes.

The low points:

- Turnout was, to use a technical electoral term, piss-poor across the city. There were only 4 wards with more than 35% turnout. This won't be solved by the Greens. It will be solved by the "two main" parties in Coventry -- Labour and Tory -- actually listening to the public and putting their concerns right. People overwhelmingly feel, on the doorstep, that no matter who gets in, things won't change.

- When head-to-head against the BNP (they didn't run in Earlsdon, Foleshill, Wainbody or Upper Stoke against us), we usually (apart from Bablake and Sherbourne) had a situation where our paper candidates were rather outpolled by the BNP. The BNP came a few dozen votes from finishing 2nd in Woodlands.

I've tried to convince myself that this is down to the background noise of "British Jobs For British Workers" or "Polish asylum seekers are coming here to take our housing and eat our swans" from the Mail/Express. But I'm not doing very well. There is a tremendous amount of background noise about climate change as well. We had relatively favourable coverage from the Coventry Telegraph and the Coventry Times in the week leading up to the vote. There was even a "business leaders recognise that climate change is bad news" conference going on at the Ricoh on the day of the election, and it was being featured on Touch FM on the hour! People know that climate change is happening, but they are not (yet) willing to put that first at the ballot box.

It could also be a fear of the other more generally after 9/11 and the London bombings, with the BNP whipping up Islamophobia, and that might outweigh longer-term concerns about the planet.

The white working class didn't have it great to begin with, and wages are being pushed down, and affordable housing is scarce. So, the BNP steps in, and says, well, we'll stick up for you, we'll make England great again, and it plays on the idea of empire, that being English is something more special than anything else.

Of course, the solution to low wages is to lobby and organise for higher wages for everyone. The solution to a lack of housing is to build affordable housing for everyone, rather than racialise access to it, or talk about gays and lesbians as not "breeding", or talk about £50 000 payments for British citizens who are Asian or Black to "go home," or talk about Muslims as if they are all sleeper terrurists who have dirty nuclear devices primed under their beds.

I suppose I view left/Green candidates as trying to unite people around common goals (radical transformation; ownership of public services; creating communities that can solve their own problems in an era of peak-oil transition), whilst BNP candidates want to unite people on the grounds of being white, Christian and straight, and have them fear, hate and blame others.


Anonymous said...

why do you keep going on about the BNP having some sort of anti gay thing going on, i havent picked up on this

scott redding said...

Well, you could Google "BNP gay lesbian" ...

1) Nick Griffin said, after the Admiral Duncan nailbombing, which killed three people and maimed dozens more, that lesbian and gay people "flaunt their perversion" and said this showed why "so many ordinary people find these creatures so repulsive." (source: "Stranger things have happened," Nick Griffin, Spearhead (BNP magazine), June 1999)

2) Or September 2006, when Phil Edwards, the BNP press officer, said their policy was to "reinstate section 28 ... [and] offer counselling to get people away from their deviant lifestyles, or ask them to become celibate."

3) Or BNP campaigns in Somerset against Lesbian and Gay History Month in February 2006.

"shoving it down our children’s throats" ... "celebrating this atrocity" ... "misguided scheme to indoctrinate our kids with unwholesome alternative life-style propaganda"

Anonymous said...

lancaster uaf reckon that the bnp bloke who got in in london is gay

scott redding said...

I think this is what they are referring to ...

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