May 21, 2014 by Paul Goldsmith
I love a good election,me. Tomorrow’s local council elections and EU Parliament are no exception. It is partly because I have an odd interest in psephology (the study of political elections) that I should probably receive treatments for. But also because of my interest in psychology, particularly of voters, and in the strategies that political parties use for the different types of elections.
It is really important to note that these ARE different types of elections. A lot of people WON’T vote – turnout is historically low. Some people will vote for a different party in them than they would vote for in a General election – and the media loves to analyse the results and try and project ahead – when in fact history suggests the results will mean very little, for reasons I will explain tomorrow.
The local council elections – in which voters can choose how their local borough is governed – is the proving ground of many an aspiring politician – who will start off on a council and possibly end up in Westminster. It is also the generally accepted means by which a smaller party can gain credibility by virtue of their ability to run a local area well which they hope to parlay into General Electoral success – something the Lib Dems targeted in the 1990s and UKIP will be targeting now – although not as much as they are targeting the European elections. The EU elections – in which we choose MEPs, who, according to UKIP, come up with 75% of the laws that govern us, are more important than turnout suggests too.
Things to look out for in the Local Council elections – results due Thursday
Councillors are elected by the traditional first-past-the -post system – with voters naming their preferred candidate
1) Labour need to get at least 500 seats and perform well in the South (Hammersmith, Crawley, Croydon) for anyone to be convinced Ed Miliband is likely to achieve power next year. Also watch to see if they lose any seats to UKIP (Manchester)
2) The Lib Dems could lose half their seats (Kingston-upon Thames) – a crucial activist base – as part of their punishment for entering coalition
3) The Tories could lose about 200 seats – but watch in particular for how they do in the North (Trafford, Amber Valley) to gauge Cameron’s chances in the next General election.
Things to look out for in the EU Parliament elections – results due on Sunday
MEPs are elected via proportional representation – with voters choosing a party to support and each party ranks candidates in order of who should get seats first
1) If UKIP wins the most seats of anyone, that will leave the Conservatives and Labour parties worried – expectations are so high that UKIP coming second would be a disappointment to them. Names to look out for are Patrick O’Flynn, Tim Aker, Jonathan Arnott, Jane Collins and David Cockburn. If all of them are MEPs by next week something big has happened.
2) This could be the first ever time the Tories come third in a national election. If that happens Tory Eurosceptics could step up their demands on David Cameron
3) Although it is likely Labour will increase its number of MEPs, if UKIP is winning over traditional Labour voters that will put more pressure on Miliband
4) Any seats won will be a little victory for the Lib Dems (the party of ‘IN’)…that’s how low they have fallen.