Friday, 30 May 2014

The councils who defied UKIP to fly the Green Flag

In light of last week, Bristol Green Party, who received the most council votes on aggregate in wards within the Bristol West constituency ,has said several times that they believe the Green Party can win Bristol West next year, or failing that, in 2020. 

On aggregate, the Greens' share of the vote in Bristol West wards was 28%- and there are other councils in the nation where in terms of aggregate vote shares we finished second or third, or even first in rare cases. Here they are:


Barnet (11.1%;3rd behind Labour and Conservatives)
Camden (15.8%; 3rd behind Labour and Conservatives)
Enfield (11.5%, 3rd behind Labour and Conservatives)
Hackney (20.6%, 2nd to Labour but we sadly won no seats there)
Haringey (15.9%; 3rd behind Labour and the Liberal Democrats)
Islington (19.7%; 2nd to Labour and official opposition there,as we know)
Lambeth (15.5%; 2nd to Labour but we still only won 1 seat because of FPTP)
Lewisham (14.5%; 2nd to Labour and official opposition there, LewishamPeople Before Profit came third with 12.5% and the Con-Dems finished 4th and 5th)
Richmond upon Thames (12.7%; 3rd behind the Con-Dems but we beat Labour in terms of aggregate vote share there, quite a rare event)
Southwark (14.2%; 3rd behind Labour and Liberal Democrats)
Wandsworth (12.6%; 3rd behind Labour and Conservatives)
Westminster (13.5%; 3rd behind Labour and Conservatives; this was where London Green Party made its debut back in the 1970s when we were still the Ecology Party)

Metropolitan boroughs outside London:

Solihull (14.2%; 2nd behind the ever-dominant Conservatives and now the official opposition. 3rd, 4th, and 5th places in overall vote share close between Labour, Lib Dems and UKIP)
Manchester (12.8%; 2nd behind Labour but unfortunately we won no seats there)
Liverpool (10.7%; 2nd behind Labour and official opposition)

Unitary Authorities:

None, but an honourable mention goes to Bristol- even though we came 4th, we got 15.75% of the vote share on aggregate.

District Councils:

Cambridge (14.6%;3rd behind Labour and Liberal Democrats)
South Lakeland (8.6%;3rd behind the the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives; one of a handful of councils where the Greens' aggregate vote share was higher than Labour's) 
Honourable mention for Weymouth and Portland-we came 4th but we did surprisingly well by Dorset standards, gaining 12.5% of the votes there, ahead of UKIP overall, and nearly winning our first council seats there. 
Stroud (18%; 3rd behind Conservatives and Labour)
Norwich (30.3%;2nd behind Labour but our vote share increase was better than Labour's)
Oxford (20.2%; 2nd behind Labour, well up from the 4th place we got in 2010)

Glad that in the face of UKIP, these councils can wave the green flag-at least somewhat. Remember, 'though Liberals flinch and Tories sneer, we'll keep the green flag flying here!'



Thursday, 29 May 2014

2014 European elections nation by nation-as it happened, part 2

If you are wondering why I have split my analysis into two blog posts, it is to make them easier to read and less long-winded.

Now continuing from where I left off...


There are several major stories here. The first is the (relative) landslide victory of current Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his centre-left Democratic Party, which won an impressive 40.8% of the vote in European elections in Italy. Initially, Mr. Renzi, the former mayor of the Italian city of Florence, had no mandate as he was not an MP (he was appointed by the Italian President), but he was given a clear one by the electorate. The Five Star Movement's rise under Beppe Grillo is also a top story, gaining 17 European seats from a standing start-although it expected to win 20 or more. The heavy fall of Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right Forza Italia into third place and only 13 seats is one thing I am very pleased for. It represents the end of the former mogul as a viable force in Italian politics, and the humiliations Signor Berlusconi has received can only be defined as his just deserts.

Other good things that happened in the European Parliament elections of Italy this year were the loss of 4 seats by EFD list Lega Nord-they are down to just 5. The Other Europe, affiliated to the left, managed to defy polling expectations and win 3 European seats-sadly, the Italian Greens and Monica Frassoni (a candidate in the EGP primaries, who is also rather pretty) failed to support them and failed to win any seats in their own right. It was another defeat for ALDE-affiliated parties as the Italy of Values list lost all 7 European seats.


Not an inspiring result- the Latvian Socialist Party lost their only European seat and the centre-right Unity Party gained a European seat, giving them 4 in the new European Parliament. The ECR list National Alliance retained their seat as well. At least the EFA list Human Rights in United Latvia retained their seat, whilst the EGP Union of Greens and Farmers list won a seat.


Another disappointment- the Lithuanian Green Party (not to be confused with the Lithuanian Peasant and Greens Union, which is EPP-affiliated and centre-right) failed to win a European seat despite their best efforts, with only 3.55% of the votes cast. Both the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats lost seats (2 and 1,respectively), whilst the right-wing Order and Justice Party retained their two seats. In a rare result for ALDE's parties, the Liberal Movement of Lithuania gained a seat.


With only six seats up for grabs, the result here in 2014 was the same as 2009- the centre-right Christian Social People's Party won 3 seats, the misnamed Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party won 1 seat, the liberal Deomcratic Party won 1 seat, and the Greens won 1 seat. It was also a disappointment for the Luxembourg Pirate Party, who won 4.23% of the vote there, not enough to win a seat-one of the best results for Pirate Parties Europe-wide.


Like Luxembourg, Malta sends only 6 MEPs to the European Parliament. It was even split between the centre-right National Party and centre-left Labour Party, who won 3 seats each. The Maltese Democratic Alternative, which is green, came third but did not win any seats,alas.


It was a good night for the liberal, progressive group Democrats 66, who topped the poll in the Netherlands. They only won 4 seats however, compared to the Christian Democratic Appeal's 5, as the CDA ran in a joint list with Christian parties further to the right including the Christian Union and the fundamentalist Reformed Political Party (SGP) to maximise their chances. The Dutch Greens, GroenLinks, made a mistake by having a joint list with the unpopular Labour Party for electoral purposes, which cost them a seat that was gained by the Animal Welfare Party (PvdD). The Socialist Party increased their support but sadly it was not enough to win an extra seat-I was really hoping they would. The Pensioners' Party, 50PLUS was also left disappointed, as they did not quite win a European seat with 3.7% of the vote. 


The conservative nation of Poland shifted further to the right this year- the moderate Civic Plaform lost 6 seats, going from 25 to 19. The more right-wing Law and Justice Party was the party who won at the Civic Platform's expense, raising their total to 18 seats. The centre-left Democratic Alliance actually lost two seats, going down from 6 to 4, and the nasty far-right, libertarian Congress of the New Right (KNP) won its first four seats, despite the grievous misogyny of its leader, Janusz Korwen-Milkke. It was a very bad day for progressive forces in Poland, as the Polish Greens won only 0.3% of the vote, as the Europa-Plus list failed to win any seats, and as the Direct Democracy Party also fared badly with only 0.2%of the vote. This nation has been the only sliver of fortune for the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, who Europe-wide have been losing MEPs, left, right and centre (mostly right, of course).


Another good day for the left-mostly. The left-wing Democratic Unitarian Coalition gained a seat,giving it 3, although unfortunately that meant no Portuguese Greens made it to the European Parliament as the first of the Portuguese Green candidates on that list was only placed fourth. The Left Bloc was reduced from 3 seats to just 1-I wonder why,though. The right-wing Portugal Alliance was reduced from 10 seats to just 7, with the Social Democratic Party losing 2 and the People's Party losing 1. Interestingly, a centrist green party, the Earth Party, won 2 European seats, surprisingly, meaning that the centrist greens (as opposed to the left-wing greens in EGP) now have 3 MEPs in total. Disappointingly, though, three other left-wing lists failed to make it into the European Parliament despite strong vote shares by minor party standards- the new, green Livre list, the Party for Animals and Nature, and the far-left Portuguese Workers' Communist Party (PCTP), who polled 2.18%, 1.72%, and 1.46% (better than in 2009,though) of the votes there respectively.


The Social Democrats had a strong showing there, gaining 5 seats and increasing their European representation to 16 MEPs. Those gains were mostly at the exense of the Democratic Liberal Party of Romania, who conversely lost 5 seats and were reduced to 5. The only other thing of note is the election of Indepedent MEP Mircea Diaconu, as neither the Romanian Greens nor the Socialist Alliance came close to winning any seats.


The most notorious fact about the European Parliament elections in Slovakia is the turnout-or lack thereof. The turnout in Slovakia this year was a farcical 13%-the lowest in the EU by far and the lowest turnout for any European nation in European Parliament history. As for the parties themselves, the far-right National Party lost their only seat, and four new parties gained European representation for Slovakia with 1 seat each-Ordinary People, the Civic Conservative Party, Freedom and Solidarity, and the pro-Hungarian Most-Hid. Another unfortunate thing is that the Slovakian Communists did not gain a seat, even though I am sure austerity is hitting Slovakia as it is hitting many other European nations.


It was another bad night for ALDE here, as both the liberal lists lost their only seat. One group which has affiliated to ALDE which did gain a seat here is actually more a pensioners' interest party called the Democratic Party of Pensioners in Slovenia-which will be good news for 50PLUS in the Netherlands to hear,undoubtedly. Also entering the European Parliament for Slovenia is the Igor Soltes-led Verjanem (meaning I Believe in Slovenian) list, but I have no idea what it stands for-is it a protest group like ANO?


Si Podemos, mi amigos!

This means 'yes we can, my friends' in Spanish, and is appropriate here because a new left-wing party that only launched this year, Podemos, won 5 European seats from a standing start. United Left also did very well, going up from 2 seats to 6, and Initiative for Catalonia Greens which allied with them retained their seat. There were also 4 MEPs affiliated to EGP/EFA elected, including two left-wing nationalists, a member of the Spanish Greens EQUO, and the Peoples Decide party. The biggest losers in this election were the two main Spanish Parties, the People's Party and the misnamed Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, who were rightly punished for supporting austerity. The People's Party went down from 24 seats to 16 and the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party went down from 23 seats to 14, which triggered the resignation of now ex-PSOE leader Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba the next day. The hard right also thankfully got nowhere in Spain, with the right-wing Vox party not winning any seats and the neo-fascist Spanish Phalanx getting a derisory 0.13% of the vote.


And last but not least, Sweden (as I have already given my opinion of the UK's European Parliament results in an earlier blog post)

It was an interesting election there, to say the least. The Green Party of Sweden gained a seat but on the other hand the first Pirate Party to get representation anywhere in Europe lost both their European Parliament seats there. The centre-right governing Moderate Party (it will not be in government in Sweden for much longer, as a national election will take place there later and they are polling poorly) lost a European seat and went down to 3. As for other parties, the far-right Sweden Democrats gained their first 2 seats, and the the Feminist Initiative became the first explicitly feminist party in history to win a European seat, and it won it here in Sweden. 

Well, that completes my analysis of the 2014 European Parliament elections of nations outside the United Kingdom. Please feel free to give your thoughts on my analysis.

Regards, Alan.





2014 European elections nation by nation-as it happened, part 1

Well, the European elections of 2014 are now finally complete, and here is my analysis of the results, nation by nation:


This was one of the European Green Party's better results- the Greens continue to be on the rise in Austria as they gained an MEP, giving them 3 MEPs in the new European Parliament. Worryingly,though, the radical right Freedom Party of Austria (similar to the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands) gained 2 seats, at the expense of the now almost defunct Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZO) and the Austrian People's Party (OVP), who lost 1 seat apiece. The greatest disappointment here was the disappearance of the Hans-Peter Martin list and the failure of the left-wing Europa Anders list (a coalition of the Pirate Party and Austrian Communist Party) to gain any seats-it scored only 2.14% of the votes cast here.


Notably a strong tale of success for the New Flemish Alliance, who gained 3 European seats and topped the poll in Belgium. Parties losing European seats in Belgium included the Christian Democrats, the Wallonian Socialist Party, the Wallonian Ecology Party, and thankfully Vlaams Belang. Sadly, despite their efforts and rising support, the Workers' Party of Belgium failed to win a single European seat, even for the Francophone college.


 The two most notable events here are the loss of both European seats by the extremist Ataka party, and the gain of two seats by the new Bulgaria Without Censorship (BBT) party, which appears to be liberal and anti-corruption in the style of the Czech ANO party. What is also notable is that even though the Reformist Bloc won a seat, its votes were only 22,000 greater than the number of votes declared invalid.


Alliances were the name of the game in this nation-four multi-party alliances polled strongly in Croatia alone. Six of the 11 European seats in Croatia were gained by the centre-right Croatian Democratic Union coalition- 4 for the HDZ, 1 for the Croatian Peasant Party (similar to the Polish People's Party), and 1 for the more right-wing Croatian Party of rights. It was not a good night for the left in Croatia- the Croatian Labourists lost the seat they gained in 2013 and the Croatian Greens (ORaH) only gained 1 seat. Even the centre-left Croatian Social Democrats and their Kukuriku alliance lost out. At least the right-wing to far-right Alliance for Croatia did not win any European seats either.


No party actually gained or lost seats there, but the significant loss of vote share by the left-wing AKEL (Progressive Party for Working People), and the rise of vote share by centre-right DISY (Democratic Rally) is worrying. Also, turnout dropped sharply in Cyprus from 59.4% in 2009 to just 44% in 2014.

Czech Republic

A prime case of several of how anti-establishment protest votes largely went the wrong way-in this case to ANO which took the Czech elections by storm last year. However, ANO also campaigned for arch-liberal Guy Verhofstadt to be European Commission President, which shows you what ANO is really like, despite its talk to anti-corruption and fighting unemployment.
 Meanwhile, the actually anti-establishment Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia actually lost a seat, bringing it down to 3; the Czech Pirate Party got 4.78% of the vote and just missed a seat, and the Czech Greens also missed a seat despite an improvement in vote share. The heaviest losses went to the formerly governing Civic Democrats, who were reduced from 9 seats to a measly 2, and finished a lowly sixth place in those elections.


Good news for the populist right-bad news for the left. The People's Movement Against the EU (list N), failed to win an extra seat and the EGP-affiliated Socialist People's Party (list F) lost one of their seats, as punishment for their previous alliance with the Social Democrats and Social Liberal Party. The racist right Danish People's Party (list O), topped the poll in Denmark and elected 4 MEPs, taking many votes from the Danish Liberals (list V), and Conservative People's Party (list C) alike. This is also the only nation other than the UK where a Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) list topped the European elections poll.


Not much to say here- apart from the fact the Centre Party lost a seat to the Reform Party, which does not really change anything as both of them are part of the same European Parliament group-ALDE. I am pleased that Green-affiliated independent Indrek Tarand retained his seat. Estonian European Parliament elections have generally featured some quite strong independent candidates compared to most other nations except Ireland.


Despite the Finns Party/True Finns' good performance in past elections, they did not do so well here- they only gained 1 European seat. Finland is also a notable example of Green-Left shifts- the Green League lost a seat and its vote share fell by 3.1%, whilst the Left Alliance gained 3.4% of the vote and won the seat it lost in 2009. The Christian Democrats meanwhile lost their only European seat, presumably due to the True Finns' rise.


Dear oh dear oh dear oh sacre bleu.

The European Parliament election of 2014 will probably be the most notorious one that ever took place in France. The far-right, racist Front National (FN) won 24 European seats in France and topped the poll there. Meanwhile, it was a bad night for everyone else in France- the centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) went down from 29 seats to 20, and showing how unpopular Francois Hollande is as French President, the governing Parti Socialiste (PS) finished third and only won 13 European seats. The Greens were decimated in France, going down from 14 European seats to just 6, and the Front de Gauche (FG) failed to capitalise, actually losing 1 seat and going down to 4. This great malaise will not be forgotten for a long time to come, non non non.


Now this one was interesting-especially when the German constitutional court removed the previously extant 3% threshold for gaining European seats, meaning no threshold now existed. The rise of Alternative for Germany (AfD) who may join the ECR group, meant that the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) got its worst ever result in a German European Parliament election, winning only 34 seats compared to the 42 it won in 2009. Their former coalition partners the Free Democrats did even worse, going down from 12 seats to just 3, and putting them in sixth place in terms of seats won. Sadly, the Greens lost 3 of their European seats and even Die Linke lost one seat, and only because of the removal of the 3% threshold.

 With 96 European seats up for grabs in Germany, 7 new parties gained 1 seat apiece. They were the Free Voters (strong in Bavaria), the Pirate Party, the Human Environment Animal Protection Party (an animal welfare party), the National Democratic Party of Germany (unfortunately, as they are essentially neo-Nazi, hence why Chancellor Angela Merkel was so disappointed at the removal of the threshold), the Family Party of Germany (family values party; they have a counterpart in Australia), the Ecological Democratic Party (a centrist splinter from the German Greens), and finally Die PARTEI (a joke party).


Hail to the socialists!

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras did what he needed to in the European Parliament elections in Greece-by topping the poll and winning 6 seats, as compared to the governing centre-right pro-Troika New Democracy which won only 5 seats-down from 8 in 2009. Worryingly, one of the new parties which gained European seats was the extreme-right Golden Dawn, which won 3 seats even though it is the worst of the far-right parties in Europe by a significant margin-it has gone beyond preaching extremist rhetoric and actually attacked (and killed) innocent people simply standing up for a better Greece. Meanwhile, PASOK was rightly decimated, going down from 8 seats to just 2, the same number the new POTAMI party and the old Communist Party of Greece won. The Independent Greeks, connected with EFD, won a seat, whilst sadly the Ecologist Greens of Greece lost their only seat.


As with 2009, the right-wing, Putinesque Fidesz party won the most European seats in Hungary, but it actually lost 2 of them, going down from 14 to 12. The far-right JOBBIK party did not gain or lose any seats and its vote share was largely the same as 2009. Meanwhile, two Green groups, Dialogue for Hungary and Politics Can Be Different, gained 1 seat each, at the expense of the Hungarian Socialist Party, who lost 2 of their 4 seats. The centre-left, somewhat liberal Democratic Coalition (DK) won 2 seats. The Unity pact which existed between centre-left groups at the 2014 Hungarian Parliament election did not survive to see the 2014 European Parliament elections of Hungary. One unfortunate thing about this election is that the hard left Hungarian Workers' Party did not even participate.


Despite the woes of the Fine Gael-Labour coalition currently in office there, Fine Gael did not lose any European seats, although it did not gain any either and its 1st preference votes were down significantly. Sinn Fein were the real winners here, winning 3 seats and being represented in each of the 3 STV European constituencies of Ireland. Meanwhile, Fianna Fail did even worse than in 2009 and were reduced to 1 seat, and Labour lost all 3 European seats. Three independents won, including Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, left-winger Nessa Childers, and liberal Marian Harkin. A split of left-wing votes between People Before Profit and the Socialist Party, which should not have happened, cost the Socialists their Dublin seat.

Part 2 of my analysis is coming up soon.

Regards, Alan.



Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Meanwhile in Ireland...

The results of Irish local elections have now come through, for all 943 of the 949 council seats to be elected this year. There were also two by-elections to the Dail, the Irish Parliament, on the same day, 23 May 2014.

I am very pleased to say it has been a good year for parties on the Irish left-not only Sinn Fein but also People Before Profit and the Socialist Party. The Irish Green Party appear to have redeemed themselves as well-but they need to be careful not to get in bed with Ireland's establishment parties in future (i.e. no alliance with Fine Gael, Fianna Fail or Labour).

Eirigh, Sinn Fein. Ga Eire agat anois.

That phrase by the way means in Irish Gaelic, 'arise, Sinn Fein. Ireland needed you now.' Sinn Fein performed very well in Irish local elections, and deserved to for its opposition towards the vicious austerity being imposed by the current Fine Gael-Labour coalition. The fact that Eamon Gilmore has now resigned as Irish Labour Party leader is a sign that the coalition might dissolve early-although it will be too late for Labour at that point.

With most of the seats filled (apart from the Ballybay-Clones electoral area in Monaghan where a candidate has died, leading to the election there being delayed), the final results are out of 943 council seats whose polls have been declared, Fianna Fail have 266, mostly in rural areas, Fine Gael have 232 councillors, Sinn Fein have 157 councillors, and Labour have a measly 51 councillors out of 943, even though Ireland uses STV and all of the electoral areas had at least six council seats-some had 10! There were also 237 independents and councillors from other parties combined. My analysis of Irish local elections in major areas is this:


Out of the major Irish cities, Cork was quickest to reject the establishment's austerity policies. The left had a very good night in Cork, which not having the prominence and also a fraction of the population of the Irish capital, Dublin, was not as fortunate in the Celtic Tiger years as Dublin was, and is certainly much worse off now. In total, 'hard left' parties won 4 of the 31 seats in Cork City, with hard working and respectable councillors Mick Barry and Ted Tynan of the Socialist Party and older Workers' Party being re-elected and joined by Lil O'Donnell and Marion O'Sullivan. Meanwhile, Sinn Fein won 8 councillors in Cork, and only 15 councillors from neoliberal capitalist parties were elected in Cork-Cork elected just 10 Fianna Fail councillors, just 5 Fine Gael councillors, and not a single councillor for Labour. Note that Labour has deputies (TDs) in Cork City's constituencies. 

Dublin City, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, Fingal Dublin, South Dublin:

In Dublin City, the establishment parties did even worse, with Fianna Fail ,Fine Gael, and Labour only electing 25 councillors between them out of the 63 seats available in Dublin City, where there have been strong anti-austerity and anti-water tax protests. Meanwhile, People Before Profit got 5 councillors elected in Dublin, including unsuccessful European candidate and current PBP councillor Brid Smith. However, their sectarian approach, rather than united left approach, meant that the Socialists only won one seat in Dublin, with even their splinter United Left opponents also winning 1 seat. Even though Sinn Fein's vote was being split by an extremist offshoot, Eirigi, who did well from a standing start in LEAs they stood candidates in, it still won 16 Dublin council seats. (Eirigi is to Sinn Fein what ANTARSYA is to SYRIZA) The Irish Greens meanwhile won 2 council seats, meaning they have not recovered that much in what was once their strongest area.

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, meanwhile, despite the hard work of Richard Boyd Barrett TD, who represents the Dun Laoghaire constituency, was more accepting of the three main parties, who won 26 out of 40 Dun Laoghaire seats (11 Fine Gael, 8 Fianna Fail, 7 Labour). People Before Profit could only win 3 seats, the same number as Sinn Fein won there; Sinn Fein does not have as strong a base in urban areas of Ireland as it does in rural areas of Ireland. The Irish Greens gained 2 seats, the same number they gained in Dublin City, and the council results there overall suggests that Dun Laoghaire seems not to be suffering from austerity as much as inner Dublin itself.

Fingal Dublin is to the Socialists what Dun Laoghaire is to People Before Profit- the Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA), most of whose candidates are members of the Socialist Party of Ireland, won 4 council seats there to PBP's one. On the same day in Fingal Dublin, part of the Dublin West Dail Eireann constituency, Ruth Coppinger was elected as a deputy in a by-election for Dublin West, which happened after ex-TD Patrick McNulty resigned over inappropriate Facebook comments. Labour meanwhile fell from first place in the 2011 Dublin West by-election (which elected Mr. McNulty) in terms of 1st preference votes, straight down to seventh place! Fine Gael did not do much better in this by-election either, finishing fifth, and Fianna Fail candidate David McGuinness failed for a second time to get elected. In Fingal Dublin, only 17 of the 40 elected councillors were from Fianna Fail, Fine Gael,or Labour, whilst SInn Fein won six council seats and the Irish Greens won two, which was good compensation for their Dublin West by-election candidate, Roderick O'Gorman.

I am pleased to say six hard left councillors were elected in South Dublin-three from PBP and three from the AAA. That is more than the number of councillors elected this year in South Dublin from Fianna Fail (5), or Labour (4), and only one behind Fine Gael (7). Sinn Fein were easily the winners in South Dublin, electing 9 councillors out of 40 and gaining 24% of the 1st preference votes cast. The Irish Greens gained one seat via Francis Duffy, meaning they have representation in all of Dublin's 4 councils.


Now the city of Galway is one that bucked the anti-austerity trend that was present in most of Ireland's local elections (I will say of course that the Dublin metropolitan area alone elected 183 of the 949 local councillors across the whole of Ireland). It must however be said that Galway has generally been one of the more conservative cities in the Irish Republic, alongside Limerick just to the south of it. Indepedent candidates were the big winners in Galway, topping the poll in all 3 Galway City local electoral areas (LEAs), with 6 independent councillors, 4 Fine Gael councillors, 3 Fianna Fail councillors, and 2 Labour councillors being elected. Meanwhile, Sinn Fein won only 3 out of Galway City's 18 council seats and not a single candidate from the AAA or PBP was elected in Galway City.


In reality, Limerick City only covers 21 of the 40 council seats in this area. But Limerick is notable in terms of this year's Irish elections as it shows the best chance of revival for Fianna Fail, even though if it returns to power in 2016 (the latest year the next Irish general election can take place), it will do no better than the Fine Gael-Labour coalition is doing now. Even though Fianna Fail did not top the poll in Limerick County, it elected 13 councillors to Fine Gael's 12, with 6 of them being in Limerick City. Labour meanwhile elected 3 councillors, the same number the AAA elected, and Sinn Fein elected only 6 across Limerick County.


Good news for Independent candidates- bad news for anti-austerity campaigners. Only a few candidates of hard left parties stood in Waterford County's LEAs, and none came close to being elected, even in Waterford City itself where the Workers' Party once had local strength-Davy Walsh of the Workers' Party only managed 4.9% of the 1st preference votes in the Tramore-Waterford City East LEA. Sinn Fein only elected 6 councillors across the county. Meanwhile, 9 independent councillors were elected, and 8 Fianna Fail and Fine Gael councillors were elected apiece, with only 1 Labour councillor elected. The minority Direct Democracy Party of Ireland, which had gained some fame last year after beating the Labour candidate in the Meath East by-election, got one of their best results in Waterford County.

The two Dail by-elections of 23 May 2014- Dublin West and Longford-Westmeath

I have already spoken of the Dublin West by-election here mostly, but I can say that Sinn Fein did well in both the Dublin West and Longford-Westmeath by-elections. However, in neither case did their candidate get elected. They only achieved third place in Longford-Westmeath and even though their candidate in Dublin West, Paul Donnelly, actually got 79 more 1st preference votes than Ruth Coppinger, he did not get enough transfers to make it to the final count. Independent David Hall performed well in the Dublin West by-election, finishing fourth ahead of Fine Gael, the best result for any Independent candidate in this Dail Eireann constituency. Meanwhile in Longford-Westmeath, Fine Gael candidate Gabrielle McFadden, sister of Nicky McFadden (whose death caused this by-election) won, with Aengus O'Rourke, son of former Fianna Fail TD Marian O'Rourke, coming second. Three of the five independent candidates beat Labour, who finished 7th in 1st preference votes just as they did in Dublin West. Labour meanwhile did not even contest any council seats at all in the Longford part- although as much of the 'Irish Midlands' is very rural this is not that surprising.

I hope my analysis of the Irish local elections and two Irish Dail by-elections has been useful.







Meanwhile in Belgium....

As the final declaration of one European Parliament constituency, Midlands-Northwest in the Republic of Ireland, has not been made (preference votes are still being counted to decide the final seat there), I will comment on the final results of European elections EU-wide tomorrow, and for now turn to elections happening alongside the European Parliament elections.

So let us turn to Belgium, who held federal and regional elections on the same day it elected its MEPs.

The Belgian federal election was a clear victory for the New Flemish Alliance, which calls for the separation of Flanders from Wallonia, and thus the breaking up of the Belgian federal state. The New Flemish Alliance, despite only running seats in Flanders, managed to win 33 seats, and topped the poll in every Flemish constituency- in 2010, it only topped the poll in the Antwerp constituency, which has a particularly pro-Flemish character, as shown also by the previous strong showings of the far-right Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) party. Antwerp is also interestingly where the hard left Workers Party of Belgium (PvdA+/PTB) received their best result in Flanders, but sadly it was not enough for them to win a seat there.

Vlaams Belang was decimated in Flanders, going from 12 seats in 2010 to just 3 this year. The Flemish Green Party, Groen, managed to gain 1 seat, presumably in West Flanders.

In Wallonia meanwhile, the dominant Parti Socialiste (Socialist Party) lost 3 seats, thanks to the rise of the Workers' Party of Belgium, who I am pleased to say gained their first two seats there-in Hainaut and Liege, although given their good polling in Wallonia I was expecting a better result. Meanwhile in bilingual Brussels, the Francophone Democratic Federalists (FDF), speaking for the French speakers of Brussels, won 2 seats there and impressively finished third in the constituency, ahead of the Greens and the Humanist Democratic Centre party (CDH). The Parti Populaire (PP) won a seat in Liege, and the Dedecker List lost their only seat in the Belgian Parliament.

As for the regional parliaments of Belgium, the Workers' Party gained 6 seats in total-2 in Wallonia, 4 in Brussels, but sadly none in Flanders-although it did increase its vote share from 1.5% to 2.5%, largely in Antwerp where its best Flemish base is. Elsewhere in the Flemish regional parliament, the New Flemish Alliance shot up from 16 seats to 43, taking seats from the Liberals, Christian Democrats, and particularly Vlaams Belang, who lost 15 of their 21 seats. The Greens meanwhile went up from 6 seats to 9 in the Flemish regional parliament.

Meanwhile, in the Walloon Parliament, it was a disaster for the Francophone Greens, who went down from 14 seats to just 4- how did this happen? Meanwhile, the Reformist Movement, the main Francophone centre-right party, gained 6 seats, and surprisingly, the Parti Socialiste did not lose any seats in the Walloon Parliament despite losing federal seats.

As for the bilingual Brussels Parliament, FDF gained 12 seats from a standing start and finished third, just as they did in the federal constituency of Brussels. The Greens lost half their seats in Brussels, going down from 16 to 8, and Vlaams Belang was once again almost wiped out. As for the mainstream parties there, not much happened.

I will cover Irish elections (by-elections and local elections) as soon as I can.





Tuesday, 27 May 2014

A day of European discordance-in some nations for better, in many nations for worse

Ladies and gentlemen, with many European nations having finally declared European elections results in addition to ours, much is already clear.

The rise of the far-right, whether outright neo-Nazi (Golden Dawn in Greece, Front National in France), or racist populist (Danish People's Party, True Finns), has been notorious across Europe, and in a time of Europe-wide austerity inflicted by the neoliberal triad of ALDE, EPP and S&D (with ECR adding salt to the wounds they are causing sometimes) often in conjunction with the unaccountable European Central Bank and unelected European Commission, this is worrying. Extreme-right parties in Europe offer no real solutions to austerity-they just blame past scapegoats like immigrants and ethnic minorities for national problems when it should be clear that neoliberal capitalism is to blame for Europe's current malaise. Meanwhile, the left within Europe has suffered in many nations- France, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands are four nations where MEPs from the anti-TTIP, progressive, anti-neoliberal European Left and Greens/European Free Alliance groups notably have either been lost or have otherwise failed to make progress against neoliberalism when they should have, and where cynicism and racism has taken root.

To put this into perspective:

Denmark's Dansk Folkeparti (Danish People's Party) topped the poll in Denmark despite being as nasty and racist as UKIP. They got 4 MEPs; meanwhile, the Danish Greens' equivalent, the Socialist Folkeparti (Socialist People's Party) lost 1 of its 2 seats and the People's Movement against the EU, supported by the Red-Green Alliance, failed to gain an extra seat despite the surge of Red-Green Alliance support that happened in Danish local elections last year.
Not only did France's Green Party, Europe Ecologie-Les Verts (EELV) lose 8 MEPs, France's Front de Gauche, when I was expecting them to gain MEPs, actually lost 1 of their 5. Meanwhile, Front National topped the French poll with 24 MEPs-even though it is so extreme and so awful even UKIP will not support it. (If you have read international news recently, you will know just how bad FN is.)
In Belgium, the Francophone Greens (Ecolo) lost one seat, and despite their efforts and previous good polling the hard left Workers' Party (PvdA+/PTB) failed to gain a European seat when I hoped they would, even in Wallonia. The New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) have made gains against previous establishment parties of Belgium, but as they are not anti-neoliberal and not green this does not matter. The far-right Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest, or VB) are also still in the European Parliament after today's results, worse luck!
In the Netherlands, the far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) did not lose any European seats, despite the notorious anti-Moroccan comments its leader, Geert Wilders, made only two months ago, which for at least a while damaged his party's standing amongst Dutch voters. GroenLinks (GL), the Dutch Greens, lost a seat (probably to animal rights party PvdD aka Party for the Animals), whilst the Dutch Socialists did not gain a seat when I hoped they would gain one or two with the Dutch Labour Party being rather unpopular at the moment.

There have also been left-wing losses in the Czech Republic (Communists of Bohemia and Moravia down from 4 seats to 3; rise of Czech Pirate Party, who only narrowly missed out on winning a seat with 4.8% of the vote, may be to blame), Latvia (Latvian Socialist Party lost their only European seat), and Croatia (the Croatian Labourists lost the seat they won just last year, although in consolation Sustainable Development of Croatia, a Croatian green party, won a seat). Meanwhile in Germany, the removal of the fixed election threshold in a nation electing 96 MEPs has led to some interesting new parties entering the European Parliament for the first time: the German Pirate Party, the Family Party, the Human Environment Animal Welfare Party (similar to the Dutch animal rights party which I mentioned earlier) the Ecological Democratic Party (more conservative version of the German Greens), and Die PARTEI, a joke party whose newly elected MEP said that he would 'retire after a month and let the next person on the list have a turn for a month, and so on, to get the most money out of the European Parliament'.

Also, in Sweden, the first explicitly feminist MEP has been elected, and Sweden's Green Party has gained an MEP as well-sadly, the far-right Sweden Democrats gained 2 MEPs and the Swedish Pirate Party have lost both their MEPs.

At least there has been good news for the left in Spain, Ireland, Italy and Greece. In Spain, 5 MEPs from United Left (IU) were elected, as were 5 MEPs from various Green/EFA parties including Equo and Initiative for Catalonia Greens (ICV). And, even though that party was only founded three months ago, Podemos, a left-wing protest party, gained 5 MEPs, making that 15 left-wing MEPs elected in Spain! Conversely, the governing People's Party (PP) were down to 16 seats from 24, and the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) were down from 14 seats to 22. Their performance as opposition was lamentable enough that their leader, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, has announced he will resign soon, in the same way the leader of Ireland's Labour Party Eamon Gilmore will now resign. 

Italy elected 17 MEPs from the anti-establishment Five Star Movement of Beppe Grillo, although this was not as many as Signor Grillo hoped. At least the left-wing Tsipras List aka the Other Europe has elected 3 MEPs in Italy, whilst Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia lost 16 of its 29 MEPs and finished third. 

Ireland has also been a big rejector of neoliberalism, in both European and local elections (more on Irish local elections later) this year. All three STV constituencies in Ireland elected an MEP from Sinn Fein, and ex-Labour MEP Nessa Childers was also re-elected in Dublin, with the last seat being won by Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes. If only People Before Profit's Brid Smith had supported the Socialists' Paul Murphy and not split each others' vote, then Dublin would be entirely represented by left-wing MEPs (the combined 1st preference votes of PBP and the Socialists was 15.3%, up from the 12.4% Joe Higgins received in 2009 as a Socialist candidate). Labour was also soundly and deservedly punished in Ireland, as it elected no MEPs at all.

The rise of the left in Greece has been the biggest by far, though. SYRIZA under Alexis Tsipras managed to top the poll and return 6 MEPs, with governing, neoliberal New Democracy meanwhile only returning 5 MEPs, and PASOK being reduced to just 2 MEPs. The Greek Communists also retained their two MEPs.

It appears in many European nations, however, that so many protest voters have gone the wrong way, when they could have gone leftwards and rejected neoliberalism, racism and fascism all in one go. Why oh why did this not happen? Oh, how this has been a time when every nation has needed its answer to Alexis Tsipras, a relatively young, principled socialist who can see the EU and neoliberalism for what it really is, and inspire people to fight back.







Monday, 26 May 2014

And then the day of the results came....

Ladies and gentlemen, for some reason, the Green Party, in terms of European elections results in the UK has actually gone backwards (slightly) in many regions in terms of vote share- even though we elected Molly Scott-Cato in the South West and re-elected Keith Taylor and Jean Lambert in the South East and London respectively, giving us 3 MEPs, our vote share actually decreased overall, even in the West Midlands where I was expecting a surge.

How did this happen? We had a useful message for voters and highlighted important issues voters needed to know, like the threat of TTIP. We campaigned positively and we exposed what UKIP is really like to voters. We campaigned for a progressive and more equal Europe, and highlighted the positives the Green/EFA group has achieved in the European Parliament. So why did British voters not support us more than in 2009?

Meanwhile, UKIP, thanks to excessive and biased media coverage from not only the BBC but also the mainstream media, topped the poll in the UK's EU elections, electing 23 MEPs across Britain. The Conservatives, meanwhile, were pushed by Labour into third place overall down from first-their worst result in any nationwide election in British history, although they still annoyingly elected 18 MEPs-down only 7 from 2009. Labour gained 7 MEPs putting them equal with the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, were almost wiped out in these elections, going down from 11 MEPs to just one in the South East, and we Greens pushed them into fifth place nationwide.

UKIP's rise came not only at the expense of the ConDems but also the BNP and the English Democrats, whose vote shares collapsed- the BNP lost both MEPs, and in all regions of Britain, the BNP and English Democrats lists performed so badly they lost the £5000 deposit by not receiving 2.5 % of the votes cast in any region. An Independence From Europe, even in the West Midlands where former UKIP MEP Mike Nattrass was leading it, also failed to make much of an impact, only polling any sizable number of votes due to its confusing ballot description of 'UK Independence Now'. The Christian People's Alliance's vote meanwhile also fell sharply, even in London where they passed the 2.5% deposit retention threshold in 2009. As for the far-left in the UK, No2EU and Socialist Labour, they performed even worse than in 2009, even in Wales which like Scotland is generally more left-leaning than England. At least Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party have retained their MEPs.

Overall, the European elections of 2014 have been in my opinion a sad day for progressiveness in the UK, and I hope the BBC will give the Green Party fair coverage in future- a petition to make sure we get fair coverage has received thousands of signatures so far, and if election debates do take place next year we should definitely have a place in them.

I will bring you the results of European elections from other European nations later, in addition to the final results from Greece's local elections and the Belgian elections which took place on the same day as the European elections.



Saturday, 24 May 2014

Local elections-how Green did they get, part 2

With almost all the councils having declared their full results now (still waiting for Tower Hamlets, where Tower Hamlets First is making strides and where Lutfur Rahman has been reelected mayor), here are some more useful updates, Green and otherwise:

We Greens are now the official opposition in Liverpool, Lewisham, Islington, and Solihull, even though we only got one councillor elected apiece in Lewisham and Islington respectively.

The Liberal Democrats were wiped out (reduced to zero councillors) notably in Manchester, Lewisham, Islington, Waltham Forest, Adur, Lambeth, Bromley, Wigan, and were almost wiped out in Brent, Camden, Liverpool and Rochdale where they once held much of a sway. Interestingly, they gained 2 seats in Sutton and did not lose any seats in Watford or Three Rivers (both in Hertfordshire), which they both still control, and only lost 1 seat apiece in Cheltenham and South Lakeland.

The Conservatives' most notable losses were Hammersmith & Fulham council, Croydon Council, and Havering Council, where there are now more independents than Conservatives. Their support was also smashed in Hounslow, falling from 25 councillors to just 11, and they lost both their Lewisham councillors. They lost councillors in Westminster for the first time in 12 years as well.

Despite fielding 561 candidates, TUSC failed to win a single seat, even in Coventry or Lewisham. The only TUSC-supported candidate who won was ex-Labour councillor Keith Morrell in Southampton. There was evidence of left disunity in Lewisham-People Before Profit outperformed TUSC in the mayoral election by getting 8.3% to TUSC's 1.9%, and also in the local elections. There were no gains for Left Unity either, or any results that noteworthy, unfortunately. The few Socialist Labour Party candidates in these elections also did not fare well, even in Barking and Dagenham where three Labour councillors defected to Socialist Labour.

Most of the damage UKIP did was to the Conservatives, but they also cost Labour control of Thurrock and Great Yarmouth councils. In metropolitan areas like Manchester, Liverpool, and Greater London, they were soundly rejected.

The Christian People's Alliance's plan to regain footing in Newham failed badly- they finished bottom in the mayoral race and their candidates finished last in every Newham ward- even though they fielded 55 out of a possible 60. Meanwhile in Bexley, their leader, ex-Conservative Sid Cordle, did not even get half the votes of the BNP candidate in Belvedere ward.

The BNP were just six votes away from having their presence extinguished completely at council level in Britain where their Pendle councillor, Brian Parker, held on by six votes in his ward. Worryingly, they also got a better vote share than the Liberal Democrats in Bexley (not much better, and partly because few Liberal Democrats bothered to stand in Bexley). Their feeble attempts in Barking and Dagenham were rebuffed easily. 

By the way, I will also bring you electoral results from Ireland as soon as is possible.


(updated due to new information having been found about the 2014 local elections) 

Friday, 23 May 2014

Local elections-how Green did they get?

Ladies and gentlemen, local election results are finally here, and usually, the news is good for us Greens. 

Here are councils where we made Green gains:

Islington: We gained 1 seat in Highbury East, well done Caroline Russell. Without you, Labour would have had complete control of Islington council due to the fact the Liberal Democrats lost all their seats in Islington.

Lambeth: We gained 1 seat; the Conservatives lost 1 of their few seats, and the Liberal Democrats were wiped out in Lambeth.

Epping Forest: We gained 1 seat, although UKIP gained 2 on Epping Forest. The Conservatives still control Epping Forest council.

Leeds: We gained 1 seat in Headingley, formerly held by the Liberal Democrats who were pushed into third place. No other changes happened there.

Liverpool: We gained 2 seats, giving us a total of 4 there, and are now the official opposition on Liverpool Council! The Liberal Democrats lost all of the seats they were defending in Liverpool, which thankfully rejected UKIP as well.

Solihull: We gained 4 seats, bringing us up to 9, and are now the official opposition in Solihull! Nonetheless, we have much work to do as the Conservatives still control Solihull council.

Bristol: We gained 2 seats in Bristol, bringing us up to 6. The Liberal Democrats, who once led Bristol City Council, lost 7 seats in Bristol, 2 to us, 3 to Labour, 1 to the Conservatives, and 1 to UKIP.

Newcastle under Lyme: We made a surprise 1 seat gain in that borough. UKIP gained 5 councillors there, unfortunately.

Nuneaton and Bedworth: Thanks to the hard work of Keith and Michele Kondakor, we gained another seat on Nuneaton and Bedworth council. The Conservatives lost 4 councillors (3 to Labour, 1 to us) and are down to just 3 there.

Oxford: We made a net gain of 1 councillor there, as despite gaining 2 from the Liberal Democrats we unfortunately lost a seat to Labour. 

Stroud: We gained 1 seat in the ward of Stroud Central, bringing us up to 6. The collapse of the Liberal Democrats in Stroud was notable, with seats lost by them because they could not even find candidates to defend them.

Wirral: We finally gained the ward of Birkenhead and Tranmere after quite a few years of trying. This gives us our first seat on Wirral Council.

Worthing: Former Liberal Democrat councillor/parliamentary candidate James Doyle won a seat off the Liberal Democrats there; well done to James. The Liberal Democrats lost 5 seats there, their other 4 losses being to the Conservatives and UKIP (who won their first council seat in Worthing) respectively.

We also held the seats we were defending in Bradford, Kirklees, Norwich, and Reading- Norwich being particularly important given Labour's heavy targeting of it.

The few bits of bad news for us Greens:

Cambridge: We have not been able to get back onto Cambridge City council despite our efforts. In other news there, the Liberal Democrats have lost 7 seats there, 6 to Labour and 1 to an Independent.

Watford: We had a double election in Callowland ward, and we lost both seats we were defending there-what happened? Meanwhile, it has been a good night somewhat for the Liberal Democrats in Hertfordshire-they did not lose any seats in Watford and still hold the council, and their mayor, Dorothy Thornhill, was easily re-elected. They also held Three Rivers council, avoided a net loss in Welwyn Hatfield (lost one to the Conservatives but gained one from the Conservatives), and held their ward in Stevenage. (They did lose three councillors in North Hertfordshire,though).

St. Albans: We narrowly failed to gain an extra seat there in St. Peters ward-good effort by Jill Mills, though.

This looks good for us when the European elections results come out on Sunday 25th-I wish all of our European candidates the best of luck.









Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Recent green thoughts on Europe.

Last stop before polling day, folks. And this year, especially due to the TTIP threat and Eurosceptic parties making large inroads in many nations (according to polling data there), so much is at stake for people in Britain and elsewhere in the European Union.

Firstly, my comment on the Greek elections is that whilst SYRIZA have thankfully done well, their performance is not as good as it could have been, not only due to issues with local organisation in some parts of Greece but also because their vote is still being split by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), which is orthodox communist, and Anticapitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow (ANTARSYA), whose hardline stances make SYRIZA look like moderates. One worrying result was the extreme-right Golden Dawn (XA) party's mayoral candidate gaining 16% of the vote in Athens, even though its support had slumped some months earlier after the murder of an anti-fascist rapper which was carried out by a Golden Dawn member; at least it was not enough for them to make the runoff. New Democracy (ND), the governing centre-right party in Greece passing out the Troika's austerity and misery onto ordinary Greeks, also failed to make the second round of the Athenian mayoral race for the first time since 1975. The second rounds of the Greek elections will conclude in five days, and I will give you updates then.

Secondly, I ask you all, in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, to make sure you go to the polling station tomorrow (assuming you have not cast a postal vote) and vote Green, and remind your friends and family to vote Green as well, as I have done. I hope the Green vision will come across Europe, and that voters in the EU will reject the neoliberal triad that is ALDE, EPP, and S&D, and also the racist right that consists of EFD and some other non-inscrit parties.

Only we Greens completely reject TTIP, promise a referendum on EU membership, promise to save the NHS, promise to put public services back into public hands, promise to oppose fracking, and promise to increase investment in renewable energy.



Sunday, 18 May 2014

If only all of the EU used STV....

Just four days to go until the UK local elections and the European elections of 2014 now,ladies and gentlemen.

It is noticeable that most EU states use party-list PR for elections, European and otherwise, which can be very problematic for independent candidates who just want to represent constituents' wishes and not a political ideology. Only the nations of Ireland and Malta, as well as the Northern Ireland region of the UK, use STV, but as STV has no threshold yet is still fair votes count for more than even party-list PR without a fixed threshold (as exists in the Netherlands and now Germany). The use of STV has worked wonders for local government in Scotland, after all.

Here is my advice to Irish Green Party/Comhoartas Glas supporters, and Northern Ireland Green Party supporters, in terms of how to rank your vote in European and local elections:

Dublin (European Parliament): 1. Green (Eamon Ryan), 2. Fis Nua (Damon Wise), 3. Socialist Party (Paul Murphy), 4. People Before Profit (Brid Smith), 5. Sinn Fein (Lynn Boylan), 6. Nessa Childers, 7. and 8. Direct Democracy Ireland (Raymond Whitehead and Tom D'Arcy), 9. Jim Tallon,  10. Labour (Emer Costello), 11. Fianna Fail (Mary Fitzpatrick), 12. Fine Gael (Brian Hayes).

Midlands-Northwest (European Parliament): 1.Green (Mark Dearey), 2. Fis Nua (Cordelia Nic Fhaerraigh), 3. Sinn Fein (Matt Carthy). 4-14. All other candidates in any order (please put Fine Gael,Fianna Fail, and Labour at the bottom of your preference list on the ballot paper though).

South (European Parliament): 1. Green (Grace O'Sullivan), 2. Fis Nua (Donal O Riordan), 3. Sinn Fein (Liadh Ni Riada), 4-15. All other candidates in any order, preferably with Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, and Labour with the bottom three preferences (13,14,and 15).

Northern Ireland (European Parliament): 1. Green (Ross Brown), 2. Sinn Fein (Martina Anderson), 3. SDLP (Alex Attwood), 4. Alliance (Anna Lo), 5. NI21 (Tina McKenzie), 6-10. All unionists at bottom of ballot ranking.

If we used STV for European elections in England, I would advise the following preferences after the 1st preference for the Green Party: 2. No2EU (since they are anticapitalist), other, then Labour, Liberal Democrat, Conservative, UKIP, and any far-right party (BNP et al.) at the bottom of the STV rankings.

If STV was used in all European nations for European nations, it would also be easier for a socialist-green alliance for Europe to form and counter the neoliberal triad that is comprised of ALDE, S&D, EPP and ECR, and also the racist right that is EFD and the nastier Non-Inscrits.


Saturday, 17 May 2014

Thoughts on recent electoral news

Ladies and gentlemen, this week the world focused its eyes on the Indian general election (India is the world's most populus democratic nation by far) and the unfortunate fact that former Gujarati minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party, the main right-wing party in India and the major part of the National Democratic Alliance, won by a landslide, winning 339 seats out of 543 in India's Lok Sabha (or House of the People as it translates to). Meanwhile Rahul Gandhi's Indian Congress party and the United Progressive Alliance lost 203 seats in total, with Mr. Gandhi having to fight to hold onto his own seat of Amethi in Utter Pradesh, India's largest province. Meanwhile, the Aam Admi Party, an anti-corruption party who performed surprisingly well in the state elections of Delhi, India's capital city, did not perform as well as expected and only won 4 Lok Sabha seats. (India, like Britain, uses FPTP for all its legislative seats)

I believe that this result is worrying for much of India's population for good reason. Whilst Narendra Modi was Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat, he presided over anti-Muslim violence during the Gujarati riots of 2002, and there is some evidence he condoned some of that, true to his Hindu nationalist nature. Also, the alliance he leads contains the dangerous and extreme-right Shivsena, which has been linked to some anti-Muslim violence elsewhere in India. His links to business tycoons are also a serious concern for rural populations of India, who often live with high levels of poverty.

Returning to Britain, I am pleased that LBC presenter James O'Brien managed to deflate Nigel Farage live on air, and I hope this will be the start of UKIP's over-inflated, media-boosted bubble bursting (will it culminate in the Newark by-election?), which can also mean protest voters turn towards the Green Party-the real alternative to the LibLabCons.

It has also been reported by the Electoral Reform Society that 7 councillors (5 Labour, 2 Conservative) have been elected unopposed before a single vote has been cast elsewhere. Although this is better than in previous years (last year, 12 councillors, all Conservatives, were elected unopposed in Wiltshire and Shropshire, and in 2011, there were 259 uncontested council seats across England) it still shows why the first past the post system must be scrapped for local elections anywhere in the UK, and replaced by single transferable vote, which has worked wonders for fair representation in Scotland. We Greens would have many more council seats under STV,also, and UKIP would have fewer because they would not be able to sneak on very low winning vote shares as they did last year (many council seats in 2013 were won with the winner getting less than 30% of the total votes cast, and sometimes lower than 25%!)



Thursday, 15 May 2014

On European elections debates across Britain

With only one week to go now before polling day for the UK's local and European elections of 2014, I felt it prudent today to be a Green Party audience guest at a BBC Three Counties Radio (which covers the counties of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and Hertfordshire) which took place at the Forum, at the University of Hertfordshire where I am about to graduate from.

The speakers were Geoffrey van Orden (Conservative MEP), Richard Howitt (Labour MEP), Linda Jack (6th on the Liberal Democrats' list for the East of England region), Rupert Read (prospective Green MEP), and Patrick O'Flynn (prospective UKIP MEP).

I am pleased to say at said radio debate that it was myself and my fellow Greens who managed to ask the more important questions in this debate; I myself asked the five speakers their opinions on the threatened TTIP. Linda (Lib Dems) stumbled over it and misleadingly claimed TTIP was about US investment in Europe, Richard (Labour) tried to defend Labour's record of opposing the inclusion of the NHS and ISDS in the treaty, Patrick (UKIP) was only opposed to it because of the EU element, and Geoffrey (Conservative) defended it in short. Rupert (Green) thankfully exposed the TTIP to the audience for what it really is-a corporate power grab by multinational corporations and lobbyists which could spell the end for publicly owned services and democratic checks on corporate power. By the way, I give my solidarity to those people who were wrongly arrested whilst protesting about talks on the TTIP taking place in Brussels earlier today.

I hope this will work out well next week when we all come out to vote on 22 May. By the way, Buckinghamshire, included in BBC Three Counties Radio's remit, should be in the Eastern Region, not the South East region, as none of Buckinghamshire is actually south of London geographically (whereas the other counties in the South East electoral region are actually south of Greater London). Also, if any you are Greens who were at a radio debate or other live debate regarding European elections elsewhere in the UK, please share your story and your thoughts on it with me :)



Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The Helvetic example: How to achieve green policies without the EU

Ladies and gentlemen, I am in no doubt about the fact the EU membership has helped Britain get some green achievements and helped Britain commit to some type of reduction in carbon emissions. However, the EU's Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy are two of its main environmental blackspots, especially regarding the discards issue the CFP has created.

However, I am also in no doubt that if the European Parliament's MEPs pass the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), all those environmental gains made by the EU will eventually be undone, especially when companies use Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) to sue nations basically over any regulations, including environmental regulations, that cause them to lose profits, meaning that in practice further environmental laws cannot be implemented, and it may be very difficult if not impossible to ban new chemicals found to be harmful. For this reason and others, I believe withdrawal from the EU will be Britain's best option to save itself if the TTIP ever passes.

In case Britain does indeed withdraw from the EU sometime within the next decade, I can tell you that we can still achieve Green policies outside the EU- and there is no better example of a non-EU country achieving green policies than the country of Switzerland.

In the past 20 years, Switzerland has achieved early on conservation of its forests, a ban on motor traffic in the centres of important cities like Geneva, and most recently, its voters voted in favour of a basic income for all Swiss citizens-the basic income is a key Green idea. It has also been better able to protect its agriculture and help it become more sustainable due to the fact that the EU's CAP cannot affect Switzerland, or other non-EU nations such as Norway and Iceland, which are also pleased to be free from the CFP as well. The OECD has also praised them for their pollution-reducing achievements and effective implementation of green taxes.  The direct democratic parts of Switzerland's constitution have been instrumental in achieving many of these green policies due to the fact Swiss governments are normally quite socially and fiscally conservative.

So in case TTIP passes (we will do our best to stop it) and Britain then ends up having to leave the EU to protect itself from multinational corporations' greed, do not worry- the Helvetic example I have cited above is one we can use to help achieve sustainable and green policy outside the EU's influence.



Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Important news from Newark

Ladies and gentlemen, I am very pleased that we are officially contesting the Newark by-election, for which polling will take place on 5 June 2014, two weeks after the European elections, with the result being declared thus on 6 June 2014, the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

Nominations for this by-election closed only earlier today, and I can reveal that the opponents our candidate, David Kirwan, will face, are:

 Paul Baggaley, Independent (running on hospital campaign)

David Bishop, Bus-Pass Elvis Party

Nick 'The Flying Brick' Delves, Official Monster Raving Loony Party

Andy Hayes, Independent (no idea why he is running in this by-election yet)

Roger Helmer, United Kingdom Independence Party

Robert Jenrick, Conservative Party

Michael Payne, Labour Party

Reverend Dick Rodgers, Common Good

David Watts, Liberal Democrats

Lee Woods, Patriotic Socialist Party (formerly the United People's Party)

I am aware that Newark, like most of the East Midlands, has never been a good area for the Green Party, but nontheless we should try our best and at least get enough good publicity to help highlight our cause, which should also collaterally thwart Roger Helmer's chances of becoming UKIP's first MP (by pointing out how bad an MP he would be if he was elected).




Monday, 12 May 2014

Green thoughts of the day

The Independent today reported, on its front page, no less, how chemicals in soaps and toothpastes and other household products (many of which are also harmful to our environment and to our fellow animals, incidentally) can be damaging to male fertility, because they disrupt endocrine production in human sperm, according to researchers. 

It is an unfortunate fact that in the UK, one in five couples is infertile, for various reasons. However, there is reliable evidence that pollution ,especially from carbon related sources (coal,oil,gas etc.) and chemicals , such as those used to disinfect water in public baths and swimming pools, are to blame for much of the infertility that exists in the UK, and in other 'developed' nations, which contributes to the birth rate falling below the replacement rate of 2.1 per couple (modern lifestyles, to an extent are also to blame for this problem).

One irony about this is that the recklessness of the capitalist system, which has produced huge amounts of pollution and the harmful chemicals cited above, is to blame for much of the declining fertility rates in many nations, yet capitalism has reliance on population growth; in the richest nations which have benefited from free market capitalism, populations are usually becoming stable or even declining e.g. in Russia. It is also important to note that if the population kept itself stable at a global level, and thus achieved a zero population growth rate overall, and if resources were distributed fairly and people lived sustainable lifestyles, we would have no real trouble conserving our planet whilst still being able to enjoy life properly and perform what is necessary in our life cycles. In the meantime, I advise you all to check carefully what is used in hygiene and household products you buy, including soap.

I am also hoping that David Kirwan will indeed stand for the Green Party in the upcoming Newark by-election. Nominations for said by-election close tomorrow at 4pm (which is also when Sherwood council must put up the statement of persons nominated for the by-election), so hopefully this will be confirmed :) 

Regards, Alan.