Posts Tagged elections

Euros aftermath

I’ve been busy phoning round people in Islington, getting feedback on the European elections.

Two thirds of people who could vote, didn’t. Some were away or unwell; some abstained on principle, as an expression of their Euro-scepticism. Others simply don’t think the Euros matter. And some who would normally vote didn’t this time, as a protest against the expenses row.

Many of those who did, voted for minority parties as a protest. Or because the electoral system used in the Euros means that there are no ‘wasted’ votes. On one evening, I spoke to a former Labour voter who voted Green, a former Conservative who voted Green, and a former Lib Dem who voted UKIP; none of them will necessarily vote the same way in future.

Danny Finkelstein in the Times cites James Stimson’s analysis of voters as ‘passionate’, ‘uninvolved’ or ‘scorekeepers’. Passionate voters like me stick with their party; the uninvolved opt out; so the scorekeepers tend to decide elections.

In the midst of all this analysis, some interesting facts emerge:

Nationally, it was the Labour party’s worst performance in a century.

Here in London, just 110 extra votes per Parliamentary constituency would have seen Jonathan Fryer elected as London’s 2nd Lib Dem MEP.

And the Socialist Labour Party polled lower than Christian Party. As one Twitterer commented, “Official – God more popular than Arthur Scargill!”

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Islington’s Euro election results

I’m back home from Islington’s Euro count after the declaration just after 9pm.

In fact the count had been over, and the result had shared with agents and ready to declare for about 20 minutes by then, but could not be revealed until the Euro polls closed at 9pm. So we had the surreal scene of the counters all gone, the tables and chairs cleared, and just the returning officer, a couple of staff, and a dozen party activists standing around – plus the caretaker jangling his keys – as we awaited the declaration.

The main Islington borough numbers are as follows:
Labour 12,428
Green 8,551
LibDem 8,167
Cons 6,170
UKIP 2,639
BNP 1,488

I won’t enumerate all the other minor parties and independents!

These numbers are borough-wide. Our ‘box counts’ sampling individual polling districts show that Lib Dems came second to Labour in the Islington South and Finsbury constituency, with Greens doing particularly well in Islington North where they have their councillor.

The Greens are up, UKIP are down, and BNP did badly; but the main party percentages (and the turnout) are largely unchanged from the last Euro results in Islington. Labour will no doubt be delighted to have held their own, given their very poor results in other parts of the country.

The Greens have the most to celebrate, so it’s ironic they were not at the count to witness it. In our canavssing, we picked up a lot of Green votes who wanted to vote for a non-Westminster party this time, because of the expenses scandal. And of course the Greens benefitted from the PR voting system for Europe – no ‘wasted’ votes this time.

As I’ve been writing this, Labour’s Lord Adonis (himself an Islington resident) has been on the TV saying that the non-Westminster parties have benefitted from protest votes at this election but will lose ground to the three main parties when the General election comes.

Being the most pro-EU of the main parties, has sadly not always served the Lib Dems well. I can remember Euro counts when we came 5th… this time I canvassed many people who are normally Lib Dem voters who said they were voting UKIP or abstaining this time because they are Euro-sceptics, but will vote Lib Dem in the next election: so we’re actually pleased with the result which confirms we are the challengers to Labour in my constituency.

I don’t know what expectations the Conservatives had of the Islington results, but they don’t seem to have benefitted from the upsurge in Tory support elsewhere. The results certainly nails Labour’s lies that the electoral battle in Islington is between Labour and Conservatives.

Now Islington’s numbers go into the London-wide pot for the capital’s Euro results. We should certainly see Sarah Ludford re-elected, although it’s not yet clear whether or not we have got Jonathan Fryer in as a 2nd London Lib Dem MEP. Watch this space…..

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Is Brown a vote winner?

In the last General election, it became a bit of a joke that Tony Blair featured more prominently in Conservative and Lib Dem leaflets than in Labour ones. And Ken Livingstone’s election campaign for Mayor of London similarly ignored Gordon Brown.

But for the Euro election campaign it’s been different. Labour’s election address has a picture of a smiling PM. Labour campaigners were almost too excited when Gordon Brown came to visit Islington this week (yes, that chin-pulling incident was here in N1). Some voters have even had a ‘personal’ letter from the Prime Minister.

Perhaps he should have written instead to the editors of the Observer, the Independent and the Guardian, all of which are now encouraging people to vote Liberal Democrat.

Despite the press and the poll ratings, Labour obviously believe Gordon is an asset. We’ll find out soon if the voters agree.

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A Women’s Agenda in a time of sleaze and recession

I’ve received the following message worth sharing:

A Women’s Agenda in a time of sleaze and recession – June 2009

Just over a year ago we ran a quick survey to find out your thoughts on voting in the local and Mayoral elections of May 2008. A year later some of us have the opportunity to cast our votes in local elections as well as in the European elections. So we thought we would re-run the survey to see how, if at all, your political concerns and priorities have changed.

And because in the past 12 months little has changed in relation to funding women’s core services such as rape crisis we want to ask that question again as well – see

However in the intervening 12 months we have all had to face the reality of the recession, banking practices creating a crisis in our financial systems and more recently revelations of sleaze in our Parliamentary system.

So we thought we would ask some additional questions on how any of these have impacted on you personally and on your voting intentions and faith in politics as practiced in the UK.

We realise that not everyone will be having local elections but either way please do add your opinions to help us create a picture of women’s political priorities across the country.

The survey will stay open until 10pm on Tuesday 2nd June and we hope to get the results published the following evening, ie Wednesday 3rd June.

You can complete the survey online at

If you have any problems with this online survey because of accessibility issues we can send you a version as a word document. Please contact us – – thanks!

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Libs and Labs on Liverpool Road

Lots of folk out enjoying the sunshine in Islington today, Lib Dem campaigners included.

And Labour. Both parties had canvassers out in Barnsbury. I was with a Lib Dem trio calling along Liverpool Road when we saw our Labour MP (whose office is just off Liverpool Road) heading towards us. Let’s just say that the weather was sunnier than her expression…

Liverpool Road runs north from the Angel up to N7 and has a fascinating mix of buildings and residents along the way. There are fine 19th houses, small infills of modern flats, the old Royal Free Hospital (now housing), and the Samuel Lewis Trust estate built 100 years ago. There’s also a sprinkling of shops and local businesses, ranging from trendy yoga to traditional workshops, fine dining to greasy spoons, all in among the homes. Add in St Mary Magdalene school and church at the N7 end, and the Business Design Centre amd Chapel Market at the south, and you have a microcosm of Islington in a single street.

Some of the period terraces are whole family houses, others converted to flats. We canvassed several voters by yell as they leaned out of top floor windows. That’s why we have big Lib Dem logos on the clipboards… I was intrigued to see one house had a vintage entryphone, made by the “Sterdy Telephone Company, N7″.

Liverpool Road is named after Lord Liverpool, Prime Minister from 1815-1827. His time in office was marked by a radical surge for reform, with ordinary citizens demanding more rights and better representation. Lord Liverpool himself said of voting ““(I consider) the right of election as a public trust, granted not for the benefit of the individual, but for the public good.” So quite an appropriate place to be campaigning today!

Two hours later and we reconvened to compare notes: lots of supporters, lots of posters given out, and even a new deliverer recruited. As we finished, we saw a couple of Labour canvassers starting to call on Liverpool Road. Just after we’d already called round. And just as the Arsenal were about to kick off. Bad timing, boys.

Still they can count on one supporter at least. One voter was firmly Labour despite the party’s support crumbling: his name? Euan Blair….

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Euro elections – don’t forget your vote

The European election campaign is officially underway.

We’re knocking on doors seven days a week in Islington. Voting cards have gone out, and the first election addresses are hitting the door mats. Having worked alongside a hall full of Lib Dem activists over a very long weekend sticking and stuffing thousands of the things, I thought I’d be happy never to see another one of our election leaflets. But actually it was really good to see it arrive – proof that our hard work had paid off.

Of course if you look at the headlines you’d be forgiven for not knowing the Euro elections are happening. The revelations about MPs expenses – which have now got well into the ‘couldn’t make it up’ category – have knocked other politics out of the news.

People are right to be angry about the expenses scandals. Unlike Emily Thornberry MP, the residents I speak to are angry, not bored. This is an area that needs more scrutiny, not less.

The Euro elections are important. All the big issues that affect us – the economy, climate change, migration, and our rights as citizens and consumers – are better addressed by neighbouring countries working together. There’s a real concern that if ordinary voters are apathetic, extremists will get elected. So it’s important to vote on 4th June. Naturally I’ll be voting Lib Dem to re-elect our excellent MEP Sarah Ludford, the only MEP from Islington, as part of a strong Lib Dem team.

If you’re still a floating voter, then the clever people at VoteMatch have updated their website to help you decide.

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Catching up

The last couple of weeks have been so busy that I’ve barely had time to blog.

Which is a pity because there’s so much to write about…

– helping launch the One Hour Bus Ticket campaign
– chairing consultation event on women’s policy with Lynne Featherstone MP
– protesting against the permanent closure of the Wharfdale Road entrance to KX station
– meeting Tubelines to discuss tube services in the borough
– celebrating Mary Wollestonecraft’s 250th birthday
– taking part in Question Time at City & Islington College
– helping launch the Lib Dem Euro election campaign
– helped stick & stuff thousands of leaflets
– joined in commemorations for Dadabhai Naoroji

Last night, I attended Islington’s Annual Council meeting to see Anna Berent elected Mayor and Terry Stacy elected Leader.

It’s been a time of transition; as well as the new Leader of Islington Council, Graham Kings the vicar of St Mary Islington and Michelle Thomas the head teacher of St Andrew’s school are both moving on. So lots of appointment panels in prospect…

I’ve also managed to lose – and now replace – my phone. So even if I should have your number, I may no longer: please text me (my number’s unchanged).

Oh and we’re canvassing 7 days a week for the Euros! So a busy time. I’ll try and write it all up soon.

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Labour’s Islington South majority cut by voters, not boundary changes

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

Unsurprisingly in the week of the lamentable Heathrow decision – and following on years of everything from post office closures to data disasters – another poll shows Labour is facing a meltdown in London when the General election comes.

The Evening Standard’s coverage points out that Islington South & Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry is vulnerable. But they wrongly report that her “7,280 majority of 2005 is slashed to roughly 484 by boundary reforms“.

It was the widely-respected Chris Smith whose majority was over 7,000. And it was the voters who slashed Labour’s majority under Ms Thornberry to 484, not boundary changes.

In 2005 there was a 12% swing to the Lib Dems. Ironically it was the 1% increase in the Conservative vote that enabled Labour to cling on to the seat at the last General Election. With just a 0.8% swing to the Lib Dems needed next time, Islington voters really are in a position to deliver the change we need.

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Your vote: don’t lose it, use it

Ken Livingstone famously said that if voting changed anything, they’d abolish it.

The US Presidential elections proved him wrong. One of the many exciting things about Barack Obama’s election is the way so many people registered to vote – and then used their vote – for the first time. Appropriate, as the President Elect started in politics with voter registration campaigns.

Closer to home, voting in Islington really makes a difference. Just one seat on the Council separates Lib Dems and Labour. And (as I may have mentioned before!) at the last General election here in Islington South & Finsbury, there were just 484 votes in it, making this one of the 5 most marginal seats in the country.

You can register to vote by following this link, and make it easier to use your vote by registering for a postal vote here.

Islington residents can get a voter registration form here.

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Vienna: cafe culture amid the poster wars

While I was on my way back from Bournemouth, Rich was still busy with a work conference in Vienna. And this weekend we met up there to enjoy the city on a short post-conference break.

Vienna may be the small capital of a small country, but it has more than its fair share of grand palaces from its imperial past. We enjoyed touring the state apartments and the Sissi museum in the Hofburg, and also visited the Leopold museum of modern art to see the Klimt. I hadn’t realised how much 1918 was an end of an era for Vienna – not just the end of empire, but also the deaths of Klimt, Schiele, and the city planner Wager.

On Saturday night we went to a performance of Brahms’ Deutsches Requiem in the Stephandom. The concert was in aid of the cathedral restoration funds, which made ‘How lovely is thy dwelling place’ seem particularly appropriate….

The weather was dreadful, but that gave us an excuse to duck into lots of different cafes. Café Europa on Karntnerstrasse (the main shopping street) is chic and modern; Café Raimund in the Museumquarter is the opposite – a hundred years old, cosy and wood-panelled. We also enjoyed the Café Oper Wien, in the Opera house, where you can see (though not hear) the current production on plasma screens.

It’s a standing joke that wherever we go on holiday, Rich & I never escape elections; and sure enough, Austria was in campaign mode. The Greens had a marquee outside the Opera house, complete with internet café and bar, while the Social Democrats had heavily logoed cars driving around.

There were huge posters everywhere for the different party leaders. The only woman leader appears to be the LIF’s Heide Schmidt, a refreshing contrast to some of the scary nationalists on offer. Although I’m not entirely sure about ‘love me or LIF me’ as a slogan.

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