Thursday, 28 April 2016

How Will the Greens and other parties do in the Local and National Elections on 5 May?

On the 5 May, elections will be held across the UK. In England local council and Police Commissioner elections and elections for the Mayor of London and London Assembly will take place. In Wales, the national Assembly and Police Commissioner elections will be held. Scotland will elect its Parliament and Northern Ireland its own national Assembly.

This will be a big test of public opinion, the first since last year’s general election and much is at stake for all the political parties involved. The Tory government has been rocked by a series of public relations disasters in the last six months or so. Everything from the budget unravelling, Ministers resigning, the Prime Minister’s tax dodging antics, and the deep split opening up in the Tory Party over the EU membership referendum. How will all of this play out in May’s various elections? I expect some fall in support for the UK governing party, but how much?

For the Labour Party, this is new leader Jeremy Corbyn’s first nationwide electoral test, and portents are not all that good. The Scottish National Party (SNP) continues to hold onto huge support in Scotland, much of it at Labour’s expense. Labour could well finish up third in Scotland, behind the SNP and Tories. The English Council elections will be difficult for Labour too. Labour is also split, between MPs and members, over the leadership of Corbyn. The last time these councils were elected was a good result for Labour, so it is likely they will lose quite a few seats. But how many seats…perhaps, as many as 200?

In these circumstances, with both of the larger parties split, it should be good news for the Lib Dems. But after their participation in the coalition government with the Tories, they remain in the doldrums. In some areas of England, they may do reasonably OK in the council elections, but I can’t see them advancing much, and I can’t see any joy for them in the other elections, in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and and London.

Then there is UKIP, being so close to the their raison d’etre issue of the UK’s membership of the EU referendum, with all the media attention this brings, will probably do well at the English and Welsh elections at least. 

In Scotland, our sister party, the Scottish Greens, look set to gain a number of seats in the Scottish Parliament, probably double figure representation, maybe as high as 13 or so MSPs. In Wales, the Greens could win representation on the Welsh national Assembly for the first time. Forgive me for not being up to speed on Northern Irish politics, but we have a seat at present there to defend.

In England, the council elections often come down to specific local factors and candidates, but I think generally we will maintain the quiet, steady progress of recent years, and make some modest net gains.

In London, the Greens hold two seats on the Assembly currently and we have a good chance of retaining these seats, with a chance of a gain. What makes me nervous, is that UKIP will gain at least a seat, possibly two. One of these seats will come from the Lib Dems, but if they gain a second, from where will it come? 

These are the first nationwide elections after Corbyn became Labour leader, and it will be interesting to see how the Green Party does, since we are fishing for many of the same voters as Corbyn’s Labour. My hunch is, we will not be overly affected. Our quiet consolidation of electoral success will probably continue unabated. 

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