Splitting the vote: Vote Green, get UKIP


green ukipBack in 2011, at the AV referendum, I supported the Alternative Vote. Despite all of the propaganda against it — President Clegg? Seriously? Even with AV, who is going to be voting for Nick Clegg now? — I was firmly in favour. As an electoral system, First Past the Post is inherently unfair, particularly the level to which election results can be distorted by split votes to give a result contrary to the wishes of the majority of the election.

This has, I think, been made borne out through a few recent election results.

On Thursday there was a by-election in the Edenthorpe, Kirk Sandall and Barnby Dun ward in the borough of Doncaster. This was a ward which UKIP won from Labour in the local elections in May, and they did the same again here. I’m not thrilled, unsurprisingly, despite the fact that I don’t know much about the local politics of Doncaster — wherever you are, if UKIP is the answer then you are asking the wrong question.

Here is the breakdown votes:

Name 

Party

Votes

ALLEN, Nick

CON

479

BISSETT, Paul UKIP 1,203 (elected)

KENNEDY, Pete

GREEN

160

NEVETT, David LAB

1,109

Spoilt 7
Turnout 27.50%

Two things leap out in particular. Firstly, look at the majority of the UKIP candidate — now councillor. Secondly, look at the number of votes for the Green candidate. They are 94 and 160 respectively. So the Green vote is notably more than the margin between Labour and UKIP.

This reminds me of another election result somewhat closer to home. In May’s elections, Labour missed out on winning Kursaal ward to the UKIP candidate by a mere 45 votes, whilst the Green candidate polled nearly four times that number.

Name Party Votes
BETSON, Richard LIB DEM  95
CROSS, Simon GREEN  170
DAVIES, Lawrence UKIP  612 (Elected)
LADNER, Jane CON  375
WILLIS, Charles LAB  576
Turnout 23.13%

I don’t have anything really against the policies and positions of the Green Party, save that many of them are idealism at its purist, and would be sadly unworkable in the world we live in. I may be a bit more cynical towards them than many, having lived in Brighton during my university years — and where the Green Party has gained power, I have found them to be disappointingly regressive.

But, bizarrely, in the Doncaster by-election I actually know the Green candidate, Pete Kennedy — we were at school together. Consequently I have had a lot more exposure to his campaign than any of the others, and he seemed passionate,  energetic and fairly impressive.

But look what happened: the people of Edenthorpe, Kirk Sandall and Barnby Dun have a UKIP councillor. The Greens paint themselves as a left-wing party, so broadly speaking are on the same side as Labour. And yet here are two examples where Green candidates have potentially led to a UKIP victory by splitting the left wing vote.

That’s only one factor, certainly, and I wouldn’t want to tell anyone who believes passionately in any cause not to act upon it, but I have to look at the end result. The bigger picture. In both Kursaal and Edenthorpe, Kirk Sandall and Barnby Dun had the Green Party not run a candidate, I think it likely that UKIP would not have won in either.

The split in the vote and the unfairness of FPTP means that for those who vote Green, there is a real risk of ending up getting UKIP.

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3 comments

  1. I absolutely disagree with your conclusions – not least because UKIP won a councillor in the ward in May with an even tighter margin than Thursday’s by election, and we didn’t field a Green candidate in that ward in May.
    Having spoken to people on the doorstep, I know that we had votes from across the spectrum – Labour, UKIP and non-voters all turned out to vote Green.
    Many people did not want to vote for the Labour candidate because they felt he had a poor track record as councillor, and that is why he lost his seat in May. It was an odd decision for the Labour Party to stand the same candidate again in this by election. People are also very angry with the Labour Party for imposing such harsh cuts on Doncaster, making very unpopular decisions such as closing the Council care homes. The Save the Care Homes campaign group distributed a leaflet to every house in the ward saying “Don’t Vote Labour” – this undoubtedly had a greater impact on Labour’s vote than people voting Green.
    Finally, let me just highlight that the Green administration in Brighton is a minority administration, constantly blocked by Labour Councillors voting against anything progressive that they attempt to enact. It is exactly this kind of tribal politics that is pushing people away from Labour, and creating fertile ground for UKIP to exploit with their “anti-politics” image.

  2. If you vote any other party than UKIP you will end up with a Chief caretaker of Britain (which we already have), EU treaties signed over the last 40 years have given away our sovereignty. On this Island they plant wind farms all over the landscape and now over the seascape. all down to save the pollution, I say what pollution we have no real industries only cars on the roads. These wind farms damage the countryside for what? very little energy produced while land owners profit £1000 a day for each wind turbine.

    The Green Party good intension, but have very little or no policies to get them in the Houses of Parliament. Without the seats they will not change a thing and while people hope for them to get a seat in power the true is it divides the only chance for the people to get back the power from the EU……Which you may of noticed the other two powers who have dominated politics in this country will not stand with the UKIP leader and have a debate on TV. This is because they would not like to let people to known the powers they have handed over to the EU under their reigns.

    Just look at everything on the EU how the lobbyist are funded behind the back door by corporate businesses. and their recommendations are handed without looking at them to an Unelected commission and then made law.

    So think when the British countryside get the HS2 trains ripping up the beauty spots and you cannot kick out or vote out the EU committee as they were never voted in. And tell me when you complaining and become a horn in their side they will produce a European Arrest Warrant(look that up). so vote greens but we will not have a country to save.

    Far fetched NO! it on us, The Lisbon Treaty 43 legislative laws take over by the EU make Parliament ineffective. We have till 2017 to tweak them but that will not help your in the EU you play by their RULES ….just like Cameron got the £1.7bn fee stopped.(same time Cameron said he will give us a referendum thats to late the traet is none reversable)

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