Monday, June 08, 2009

First thoughts on the European Parliament elections

Of course, the results for Liberal Democrats in Neath and Aberavon were disappointing. We were not alone, though. There was a small rise in the percentage vote in Wales but in England it was down, and, across Europe, Liberal parties suffered losses (though we don't seem to have lost MEPs in Britain). It looks as if ELDR no longer holds the balance of power in Brussels/Strasbourg. However, the rise in the size of the Green bloc means that the Conservative and Socialist groupings will still not have things all their own way.

In both our constituencies, the BNP came within one hundred votes of Liberal Democrats. This is not, I would suggest, due to my talking up the BNP by drawing attention to their dangers or mocking their electoral communications, but as a result of the party targeting Neath. Their two leafleting campaigns clearly achieved the desired publicity, including good coverage in the Evening Post, colour photographs and all.

Labour bucked the national trend by topping the poll here and pushing the Conservatives into third place, just ahead of UKIP. Plaid Cymru will draw satisfaction from being a very good second.

I hear Labour spokespeople blaming the exposure of MPs' expenses for their poor showing overall. Sorry, but that won't wash. Tories were just as mired in that scandal as Labour - indeed, the most headline-grabbing claims were by Conservatives - yet they topped the poll in Wales and did well in England.

And, finally, Welsh has a gender-balanced representation in the EP. Kay Swinburne of the Conservatives and Jill Evans of Plaid make up for Derek Vaughan for Labour and John Bufton of UKIP.

Frank Little

The full figures are now available on the council's web-site as pdf files: for Aberavon, and for Neath.

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