Sunday 5 May 2024

Equivalent Vote Share

The only poll ever published for the North East Mayoral Election showed a statistical tie, yet four days later Kim McGuinness, who had not really campaigned at all, beat Jamie Driscoll by 58,399 votes, which was 13.1 per cent. Both Susan Hall's supporters who maintain that there was rigging, and her opponents who bemoan the selection of a figure of the racist and abusive Far Right as the candidate of one of the two main parties, are looking in the wrong place.

But the first point hardly matters. Central government invented the position for Jamie, and it does not plan on working with McGuinness to any extent beyond that of absolute necessity. Whether it did or it did not, she is going to become colossally unpopular very quickly indeed, and remain so for the whole of her time in office, which need not necessarily be awfully long. I shall be a candidate at the next North East Mayoral Election, whenever it came.

In five weeks, and having been excluded both from the BBC's televised debate and from the opinion polls, Akhmed Yakoob took himself to 69,621 votes in the West Midlands, 11.7 per cent, coming third as Richard Parker won by a mere 1508. Candidates of Yakoob's mind would change the whole game in that region's many marginal seats, and in many more that had not been considered marginal.

Under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour had 37 seats on Bristol City Council, and the Greens had 11. Under Keir Starmer, Labour has 21, but the Greens have 34, now including every seat in the new Bristol Central constituency that is to be contested by Thangam Debbonaire. In 2018, Labour held 53 of the 54 seats in South Tyneside. Today, it holds only 28, with 15 Independents and 11 Greens. And so on.

My trade union, Unite, is "considering" a "review" of some of its funding of the Labour Party at the imminent General Election "if"  that party did something that it had already done, namely abandon its commitment to workers' rights. That went as unremarked as the promise to keep the fraudulent Rwanda Plan, the kickbacks from which would therefore flow to Labour as now to the Conservatives, and the hint, at something clearly already agreed upon, of an ongoing role for David Cameron to match the bipartisan assurance of a role for Peter Mandelson no matter who had officially won. On all of these points, we shrug our shoulders and ask to be told something that we did not know.

But at 34 per cent, Labour's national equivalent vote share is only seven points ahead of the Conservatives'. It would need to be twice that for an overall majority of one. When I tell you that there is going to be a hung Parliament, then you can take that to the bank. I spent the 2005 Parliament saying that it was psephologically impossible for the Heir to Blair's Conservative Party to win an overall majority. I predicted a hung Parliament on the day that the 2017 General Election was called, and I stuck to that, entirely alone, all the way up to the publication of the exit poll eight long weeks later. And on the day that Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, I predicted that a General Election between him and Starmer would result in a hung Parliament.

I have no plan to join the Workers Party of Britain, although nor would I expect to stand against it. But if it did not contest North Durham, then I would. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. But there does need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not. We have made a start.


  1. Better than anyone in the papers.

  2. It’s just such a shame Jamie didn’t formally bring you onto the ticket (noting there was no Deputy stated on the ballot) and that 58k would have evaporated in a heartbeat. But then we find you plan to stand yourself, so you kept your base for yourself. As ever, you are two steps ahead of all of us.

    1. The thought of ever standing for this had not occurred to me until McGuinness won. But I am doing it now. And apparently, everyone except me had always known that I would.