Euro Elections: The Morning After The Night Before

By Londonist Last edited 117 months ago
Euro Elections: The Morning After The Night Before

This morning we were feeling just a teensy bit sick to find that Britain is sending a pair of racists to Brussels (though not as sick, perhaps, as they are to realize they'll be surrounded by dirty foreigners for the next five years). Nationwide, BNP support increased by 108k this year, to edge horribly close to 1 million. Even in the capital, where the party didn't come close to winning a seat, their vote increase by more than 13%.

This is all deeply disturbing. But read the results more closely, and there are reasons to think that - provided you're not a Labour MP - they may not be quite as frightening as they seem.

The biggest story here is the collapse of support for the Labour party. It got 15% of the vote nationwide - a result so poor it would normally have the LibDems hyperventilating - and even in London, where it did relatively well, its support fell by a fifth.

Labour has done so badly, in fact, that it's disguised the fact that, actually, so did almost everyone else. The Tories and LibDems both got fewer votes than five years ago. In London, the former increased their share of the vote by a whopping 0.6%, but won 30k fewer votes than in 2004. Even UKIP - who are going round patting themselves on the back this morning for coming second, despite having supporters too dim to unfold a piece of paper - lost something like a tenth of their supporters this year.

This is partly down to lower turnout. But it’s also about protest. Those parties that increased their support are the tiny ones. In London, the Christians increased their vote from 45k to 51k; the English Democrats were up by half, from 16k to 24k. Most successful of all were the Greens, the only party whose share of the vote climbed by more than 2%, and who increased their tally of votes by nearly a third nationwide.

The BNP may have found 10,000 new supporters in London last week. But the Greens found 30,000. We're not on the road to Kristallnacht quite yet.

There's one other result in London that may be cause for optimism. Little noted in any of the coverage was that independent Jan Jananayagam won 50,000 votes, largely campaigning against the war in Sri Lanka. That's one woman, whose name you've probably never heard, campaigning on a platform of civil rights, ethical foreign policy and animal welfare, and who still won nearly 60% as much vote as the BNP.

We know whose achievement we’re more impressed by.

By Jonn Elledge

Last Updated 08 June 2009