Election result that will change the European political landscape for a decade

The last two weeks have seen election result that will change the European political landscape for a decade.

In Britain, France and Greece, the voters have said a resounding “no” to austerity. Even in the voters of Schleswig-Holstein gave Angela Merkel a bloody nose, her CDU party’s worst defeat in Schleswig-Holstein since 1950. Gone is Nicolas Sarkozy, in comes the anti-austerity Francois Hollande as President, and the two pro-austerity centre parties in Greece have been rejected by the voters.

The two posh boys who don’t know the price of milk have been given notice. Writing in today’s Daily Mail, former Sun editor, Kelvin MacKenzie, has revealed that he has waged a £1,000 on Cameron being gone by November. He got odds of 10-1.

There is so much to comment on, but the rejection of austerity must be the headline. Other matters, in brief, include:

Labours excellent performance up and down the country and its growing lead in the opinion polls. However, the party should not be complacent and, in light of European election results, needs to show that it is setting its face firmly against austerity. Just saying that they would not have cut so far and so fast is the wrong message. It now needs to give people hope and begin to make firm promises about public increasing expenditure, investing in housing and infrastructure products, and reversing changes in the NHS.

Locally, Labour had an excellent result in Hastings, having secured its most seats ever on the Borough Council and reinforcing its hold in that town. But Hastings is a strange place, having elected a Conservative MP, Amber Rudd, in 2010 on the same day as it elected a Labour council. Sarah Owen, Labour’s energetic and electable young candidate, should not underestimate the Blue Lady, Amber Rudd, who has become a highly respected member of the local political establishment, across party divides.

The Greens have much to be pleased about. They increased their number of councillors by more than any other party other than Labour and the Scottish Nationalist Party. The highlight was the third place secured by Jenny Jones in London’s mayoral election, beating the Lib Dems who came fourth. This was achieved in spite of Brian Paddick being given equal coverage to Boris and Ken with Jenny being treated by the media as an also ran.

As for the Lib Dems themselves, they now have fewer councillors than at any point in their history. Perhaps this is a trend that will see these Tory appeasers returning their lowest number of MPs at the next election. Their claim, that they are preventing the worst excesses of the Conservatives, ring increasingly hollow. They are nothing more than Tory-enablers who, but for their enthusiastic participation in the Coalition, the Conservatives would have been able to force through many of their most extreme measures.

Finally, the relative success of the far right in Europe is extremely worrying. While the BNP lost all the seats it was defending in Britain’s local elections, Marine Le Pen in France and Golden Dawn in Greece sends a chilling warning to all democrats across Europe. I will write more about this soon.

(Note: An earlier draft of this post referred to Rising Dawn. This has been corrected to Golden Dawn)

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12 Responses

  1. Credit for the rise of the far right can be directly attributed to the far-left, the EU and its supporters.

    The far left love the far right, it gives them an excuse to promote their own totalitarian agenda. Just as Nation of Islam and KKK worked together, far left and far right want and need each other.

    Sensible people need to ensure both are swept away.

    The loony lefties can pretend that all of their opponents are racist fascists – but it won’t wash – we, in the centre despise both sides equally.

  2. I was interested in several items in this post BP, the first is that if your source is right (I dread to think which newspapers you read) that Kelvin MacKenzie has wagered on Cameron going by November, what is special about that month. Could it be he will be displaced because there is to be a major upset in the results of the Police Commissioners? or is it that he will go and fight for one of those seats himself due to the problem for the Tories of finding credible candidates and leave voluntarily (he will need to substantially increase his popular vote if so as his personal 34,000 in Witney won’t be enough).

    In your affirmation of Jenny Jones which I understand, we do need to reflect on a couple of issues. The first is that the gap between Jenny and Brian (who as you suggest did get much better access to the media) is almost identical with the gap between Brian and Siobhan Benita who was disadvantaged even more than Jenny. Indeed (can you believe it) even the BNP who like Jenny were given a party political broadcast only achieved a final result of 1.3% of the vote compared to nearly 4% by Siobhan and over 4% by Brian and Jenny.

    Secondly the gap between the party vote for Lib Dems and Greens at the GLA count and the personal vote for Jenny and Brian is around minus 50% which elevates the achievement of Siobhan who gained 83,914 without any party backing.

    What might happen if a substantial number of Independent candidates were successful on November 15th? Would this be enought to net Kelvin his £10,000 and for us to see someone new in 10 Downing Street?

    • Wise words, as can always be expected from Mr Chisnall. The November departure date has almost certainly something to do with the election of an independent PCC in Sussex – I understand that it is the number 1 concern at the moment in Downing Street! I was wrong to ignore the remarkable result achieved by Siobhan Benita. I would welcome more indpendendent candidates not least in the November elections for Police and Crime Commissioners, which is why I have consistently urged Labour not to field a candidate, thereby allowing a straight contest between the Conservative candidate and the Independent candidate. Alas, Labour is determined to field a candidate. My support for an independent candidate is primarily driven by the belief, which I believe you share, that PCC’s should not be party political posts.

  3. In Eastbrook (Shoreham) the LibDem vote went down from 771 in 2010 to 70 in 2012…

    What struck me about Shoreham – St Mary’s – was Lord Bassam’s subsequent fury that the Greens made an effort there (and it would have been a bigger effort that brought a win). He seems to think that he can decree a carving up of the territory. He is locked into old-school way of setting about it. That attitude of his contrasts with affability of Labour early in the morning at Southwick polling station (and the Tory candidate was friendly to me).

  4. Comparing Green success to Labour’s last week is, to say the least, overly generous. Whilst Labour added more than 830 council seats, the Greens managed just eleven, fewer than last year.

    They failed to add to their totals in their key target towns of Norwich and Oxford (where they lost a seat to Labour), and in Cambridge their only remaining cllr defected to Labour. Cllr Adam Pogonowski said he “wanted to be part of a bigger party that has real power to make a difference for people”

    Whilst Jenny Jones did finish third in London, that was as much down to the collapse in the Lib Dem vote as the fairly modest rise in the Green vote. In the London Assembly elections the Green vote fell in five seats and rose by between 0.5% and 1.5% in all but two of the others, meaning that the Greens did not add a third assembly seat as hoped.

    All in all very modest progress rather than the promised breakthrough, if not a stalling of the Green bandwagon.

  5. I continue to be puzzled by the anti Lib Dem stance taken by this blog and generally by many across all parties. Of course all other parties have a vested interest in their demise – plenty of votes up for grabs – but the reality remains that without the Lib Dems there would now be a majority Tory government – including all the ills that people blame the Lib Dems for, plus many other negative stances, particularly in social policy, and taxation.

    On the local elcetions – the Labour victory is solid, if not spectacular, and particularly good in the North, Wales, and Scotland, where the looked for capitulation to the SNP didn’t materialise. For the Tories, the results will present some with an argument to move the party to the right, which would lead to glarious defeat, but mainly they should be content that mid-term blues are often a passing phase, and they still have the reviled Lib Dems as cover. For the Green Party its pretty much as you were, which for them is a poor result given the need to maintain momentum.

    In terms of austerity – ‘these tax changes are sufficient to pay for the entire programme set out in this manifesto, and also to more than halve the deficit as a proportion of GDP by 2013, setting the economy on a path that will almost eliminate the deficit by the end of the Parliament’. Not the Tory or Labour manifesto, but the Green Party one. So you know who to vote for if you want the rapid elimination of debt.

  6. It’s amazing that BPB wrote this:

    The Greens have much to be pleased about. They increased their number of councillors by more than any other party other than Labour and the Scottish Nationalist Party.

    And Warren Morgan wrote this:

    Comparing Green success to Labour’s last week is, to say the least, overly generous.

    Now, I only went to a comprehensive, where the rudiments of the English language were dispensed with for ensuring we have basic linguistic understanding, but I’m pretty sure BPB wash’s comparing them; (s)he clearly puts their achievements as less than Labour and the SNP, yet Warren reads this is somehow a comparison.

    I also didn’t get taught psychology, but I can’t help wondering if this is a window in Labour souls, where any mention of Labour vis a vis the greens prompts earnest statements about how little there is common. A shame, but not exactly a novel phenomenon. If they’d just spend a fraction of the time being antagonistic to the Conservatives, they might actually have a point in Brighton politics.

  7. I am also pleased by Hollande’s election, not just for the fact that seems to be traditionally centre-left rather than Blairite (or Blairiste), but because he was deemed too uncharismatic and nerdy to win by much media commentary, and has nonetheless done so.

    But I think it’s a bit to early to start reading the rites for Cameron – especially on the say so of Kelvin Mackenzie, who of course dislikes Cameron for all the wrong reasons. Mind you, he may have an inside track on exactly what else News International now intend to reveal, and when they intend to reveal it, about the cosiness of relations between the PM and NI. There’s a thought – wonder if the bookies considered that when they took his money?

    I don’t want to sound complacent, but I think this ‘rise of the far right’ has been overplayed. Marine Le Pen took a single percentage point more than her odious father did ten years ago, despite the far worse economic circumstances and the fact that she is surely a more electable candidate than he was. And she didn’t make the second round of the vote.The Greek neofascists sound particularly vile, but took 7% compared to the radical left’s 17%.. Itsn’t the wonder that they didn’t do better?

    • The economic crisis & the consensus austerity to bail out the banks has left a dangerous scab in the body politic for malevolent parties to pick. I agree it is a wonder that New Dawn and its ilk have not done better but let us not be complacent. Neo-fascism will thrive on discontent and ruination of middle class finances. That is where Hollande is a breath of fresh air. He is saying that the hegemonic austerity consensus of the mostly centre-right is a failure that cannot be sustained. Therefore a more Keynesian approach has to be taken to generate growth.This will prevent the rise of the far right.
      Hollande is an ENA graduate, so part of France’s elite.He is not a demagogue or idealogue, that is why it is possible to have faith in him as an intellectual who has analysed events, found them wanting and has deivergently focused on a blue-sky approach.

  8. They may have voted against austerity but they also voted against reality. Most Greeks don’t want to leave the Euro but they don’t want to take the hard decisions required to stay in. The left have spent the money and it is now us Conservatives who are having to clean up the mess. Nothing new there then.

    Reality still seems to be eluding the Brighton and Hove Greens. They now want to spend money on new signage to create the ‘Western lanes’ as a way to build communities ( Kit Kat special I understand ). Consulting the businesses in a meaningful way before changing parking charges and other business damaging ideas would be a good opener.

    Word on the street in my area is that the green protest voters are now regretting bitterly their impetuous decision. Hopefully they will have an opportunity to change things soon as a number of by elections are on the horizon with Green councillors not coping well with the strain as well as being bossed about by KK.

    Pip Pip

    • From certain prose tics and a repetitive strain of argument, I detect the hand of Cllr Janio…

      Anyway, to this argument about Conservatives cleaning up after overspending by the left, which just doesn’t hold water. New Democracy, the Greek Conservatives, were in government from 2004-9 and are therefore massively implicated in that country’s economic mess.

      The UK Conservatives were committed maintain the same levels of spending as Labour until the banking crisis hit in the autumn of 2008. It was the subsequent bank bailout that created the current problems, not government overspending.

      The longer term problem of having an economy over-reliant on personal debt, an over-leveraged financial sector and a house price bubble is essentially a legacy of Thatcher. Granted, Labour should have done something to regulate the financial sector, but how the right would have howled and screamed about red tape and socialist interference had they done so!

      The Greens introducing new signage sounds a bit of a luxury, but then again the local Conservatives spent good money on redesigning the council’s stationery and logo, and to no good effect. And they were happy enough to pledge a million quid to ploughing up a cycle lane – very parsimonious. So, pots and kettles, Mr Janio…

    • Factual correction is required here.

      The Regency Ward area falls within the original West Laine area outside the original ‘town’. The word may mean wool in French, but in English use at the time it meant field. To reinstate the designation (whatever wards are affected which may actually be more than or not all of Regency),

      The false logic deployed as a reason for giving the West Laine area its name back is that it will automatically mean it emulates North Laine ‘success’.

      This is a shame. The areas are quite different! I support reinstating the West Laine designation because – like North Laine – it provides a handy container and easy pointer for people to grasp when it is referred to. Shorthand. It would improve identifiability and give it a better identity than electoral ward status does. I would hope it would be boundaried, not by ward, but by original West Laine borders too.

      The new West Laine area has to maximise existing assets and build on them, just as the North Laine has done over the years.

      I do not believe designation as North Laine actually did diddlysquat outside of BHCC officer and councillor ranks, frankly. They need it for market-speaking reasons, like that silly ‘Cultural Quarter’ moniker of more recent vintage. Change for change sake and to justify their jobs.

      Rising rents and property prices drove out the knocker boys, 2nd hand furniture, antique dealers, junk shops and 2nd hand book shops, the vintage clothes and bric-a-brac shops at the same time as charity shops hit the streets and proliferated (1980’s). These twin influences changed the North Laine and made it what it is today, not the North Laine designation (tho I am pleased it’s there). It is still colourful, and we didn’t lose all of its original value.

      I just hope West Laine won’t be destroyed by an i360 folly that fizzes up and then loses all sparkle very quickly, after first destroying the Grand Hotel prestige and the Metropole and Brighton Sailing club adjacent. There is no decommissioning plan for it. No viable transport plan for it to get huge numbers to it…no taxi drop-off point, no coach spaces and the cycle lane would have to be re-routed.

      Perhaps a Planning Brief for West Laine would not go amiss – one that looks at what it has that is indispensably good and builds on that.

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