One of the more remarkable, although not so surprising, outcomes of the General Election that has just gone is the polling of the two newest minority parties: UKIP and the Greens, who despite securing a derisory two parliamentary seats between them both significantly increased their support in terms of votes cast when it comes to comparing with what happened in the previous General Election.
In this post, I aim to take stock as to where we are politically with these parties, and make sense of the situation we now find ourselves in. As I have already explained in recent posts, I do not support any of the parties, although I would like to support Labour should it ever get its act together. But as a responsible voter I felt beholden, after careful consideration, to vote for someone. As it turned out, I made the rather odd decision to vote Green in the national election and UKIP in the local election, although to be precise it was mainly because the candidates adopting those labels were in my view the best of the bunch that had decided to put themselves forward.
While I am under no compunction to explain my decision, besides which I have already shared some of my reasoning for my choices in previous posts, I can think of several reasons why I might prefer either of these over the main parties. For example, the Greens have a better understanding of the dangers of fracking and better ideas on what could be done to address our energy needs. Of all the parties, UKIP are the most likely to arrest the cancerous growth we are now seeing in our nation, and that is to do with political correctness and its impact on free speech. If there were two poles apart, when it comes to political parties, Green and UKIP are they, which makes my voting decision seemingly that more bizarre. The challenge for both UKIP and the Greens is convincing enough people (including me) that they are the right parties to lead the country.
As I look at the aftermath of the two elections, it seems there are more rumblings in UKIP than among the Greens. The reason seems obvious: UKIP thought they had a good chance to win seats whereas Greens were happy just to increase their vote share. Should Nigel have been brought back to lead UKIP and should he take a vacation are interesting questions but ones I would refrain from answering other than reflect, despite them having many more sensible policies than many realize, they are still seen by some as being the nasty party and there is a need to address both matters of perception and those of fundamentals (as discussed in my earlier Kipperwatch blogs). As for the Greens, they sublimely continue on regardless.
Just as interesting as the national picture is the local (Southend) one. While there are many who would want to write UKIP off, they do so at their peril. While too soon to determine whether UKIP are destined to fade into oblivion, the reasons for people voting UKIP don’t seem to be dissipating. In the just over half the seats they contested locally UKIP never did worse than third place and they always contested strongly against the second preferred of the other remaining parties. Seeing in some of the non-contested seats there were ex-UKIPers standing (a further result of the recent civil war), they could have done even better if they had got their act together.
Remarkably, the Greens fielded candidates in all of the wards and did far better than previously. While not threatening any of the seats, the support they attracted was significant. In one ward at least (Milton) their presence was likely the reason why Labour did not win (Greens took too many of the votes that would have gone to Labour if they hadn’t stood). I note the Labour gripes on this matter and while sympathetic I am not overly so. While there is a case of pooling resources, given Labour and Greens have more in common with each other than either have with the Conservatives, if we are talking about principles, there is enough clear water between the Greens and Labour for them to decide to go it alone.
When I looked at the local result in my earlier post, I was intrigued that the Labour, Lib Dem, and Independent (of the “Alliance” variety) rainbow coalition had 24 seats between them and the Conservatives had 22 seats. Interestingly, the three flavours of UKIP (another of the unintended consequences of the recent local UKIP civil war) had 5 seats between them, which meant that theoretically they held the balance of power. The more recent development is that two of the “UKIP” factions have combined to form “Southend Independence” and have aligned / joined with the rainbow coalition, adding yet another colour as it were, thus meaning the “Rainbows” will now have a clear majority in the Council. I can see people, especially if Conservative, criticizing this four way alliance, particularly given that a year ago UKIP type participation was not even a consideration and didn’t need to be. While I see the irony, I am ambivalent when it comes to the morality of what happened. No doubt the Conservatives would have done similar if they had found themselves in a similar position. Notwithstanding politics needs politicians of principle, compromise has long been a feature of our system and those who say otherwise need to get off their high horse and take off their rose tinted glasses.
Logically, this 4-party alliance makes sense, and may be the only way to keep the Tories out and press on with the changes begun. Given the desire for the gang of three (ex Kippers?) to align with the Rainbows as opposed to the Tories while maintaining its independence, sharing in power and hanging on to some of its UKIP distinctives, I have in principle to agree that their decision is the right one. I wish and pray our administrations well, as well as the Greens and all those not in any administration in their desire to serve the people and bring government to account. One awaits developments at national and here at local level with interest, especially noting a certain antipathy among some Labour members toward members of this new grouping. and coalitions bring together strange bed fellows.
But that is politics for you – it has ever been thus! As my football hero, Jimmy Greaves, might have said: “it is a funny old game“! As fellow blogger, Matt Dent, has said, albeit from a slightly biased perspective: it is “better a bastard government than being governed by bastards”.