The EU Parliamentary election results are in

A dramatic result in Radlett’s EU constituency – East of England. A wipe-out for Labour and a big loss for the Tories. An amazing result for the Brexit Party, the Greens and the Lib Dems (oh, and UKIP essentially disappeared).

The Conservatives lost two of their three MEPs in our EU Parliamentary constituency, leaving them with one. The Liberal Democrats gained two seats – from zero last time around, Labour’s only MEP in the region has gone and the Greens have their first seat. The extraordinary factor here, as in so many other constituencies, is the performance of the Brexit Party – the largest party by a mile. The detail shows the scale of their win. Their vote in East of England is almost four times bigger than the Tories’.

Looking more locally, at the voting percentages for our council district – Hertsmere – there’s some fascinating detail. Turnout was 36.39% (compared with 36.4% for the East of England and 37% nationally. Across Europe, the figure exceeded 50% for the first time). You can see that UKIP’s share of the vote has fallen by 26.3% to 2.7%. Lord Ashcroft’s fascinating post-election polling (an essential read after every important election these days) suggests that 68% of UKIP voters, at the national level, switched directly to Farage’s party, with most Brexit Party votes overall coming from 2017 Conservative voters. The Hertsmere numbers suggest slightly more of the UKIP voters switched and slightly fewer of the Tories. Instructive, though, to remember that UKIP’s vote in Hertsmere in the 2017 General Election was 3% (our full 2017 results post is here).

You can see that UKIP’s share of the vote has fallen by 26.3% to 2.7%. Lord Ashcroft’s fascinating post-election polling (an essential read after every important election these days) suggests that 68% of UKIP voters, at the national level, switched directly to Farage’s party, with most Brexit Party votes overall coming from 2017 Conservative voters. The Hertsmere numbers suggest slightly more of the UKIP voters switched and slightly fewer of the Tories. Instructive, though, to remember that UKIP’s vote in Hertsmere in the 2017 General Election was 3% (our full 2017 results post is here).

The Conservatives’ collapse in Hertsmere is dramatic but they’ve lost a substantially smaller share then at the National or East of England level, falling only 20 percentage points to 17.7%. Ashcroft’s numbers also suggest that almost 40% of the Lib Dem vote nationally came from 2017 Labour voters and a quarter from 2017 Tories.

In some ways the Green Party’s performance, both in Hertsmere and at the East of England level, is most interesting – their increase in vote share has been enough to get them just above the threshold for a single seat and they’ve essentially swapped places with Labour, whose share has fallen to just below the threshold, but the whole picture is so complex – somebody really did shake the kaleidoscope.

Nationally, it’s not so different. According to Laura Kuenssberg on the BBC election results programme, if the Conservatives had done this badly in a UK general election they’d have won no seats at all.

At the wider European level it’s been a good night for the far right – the largest parties in the Parliament from both France and Italy are now from what we would once have called the nationalist fringe – and for the Greens. The largest groups in the new Parliament are still from the socialist and centre right blocs but they no longer have a majority – this is going to be interesting.

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Most of the data in this post is from the BBC’s excellent and very comprehensive election results site, some from the EU’s and the Hertsmere turnout figure is from Hertsmere’s own elections web site.

An EU polling day round-up

Radlett is in the East of England constituency for the EU Parliamentary elections. We’ll send seven MEPs back to Brussels (and, for half the time, Strasbourg, of course). In 2014 the East of England elected these MEPs from three parties (full election results are on the BBC web site).

Our representation in the EU is already pretty patchy. Of the three UKIP MEPs on the list, only Stuart Agnew still represents the party. The others have defected to other parties. Vicky Ford no longer represents the Conservatives either: she is now a UK MP. And Richard Howitt retired in 2016. The European Parliament web site has the current line-up of MEPs. Whatever the outcome of today’s elections, the list of MEPs is going to look very different.

Candidates for today’s election are listed on the BBC web site. There are a lot of them – 54 individuals, representing nine political parties (one of these is an independent). The big parties all put forward seven candidates but you don’t vote for an individual, you vote for a party group. The voting system then takes over and assigns seats to parties according to their vote share.

MEPs are returned to the EU Parliament using a system chosen by each of the 28 member states. In Britain we use a proportional representation voting system (except in Northern Ireland) that’s called the D’Hondt system. The i Newspaper has an explainer. The count takes place on Sunday (most other member states are voting on Sunday) so we’ll have a result early on Monday.

Who to vote for, of course, is up to you. The polls put the Brexit Party out in front by a wide margin, wider even than UKIP’s big win in 2014. The two main parties are likely to take a beating, the Tories especially. What will be most interesting – given the odd, presumably short-term nature of this Parliament – is whether the anti-Brexit parties can put on as many votes as the pro-Brexit ones. If the outcome is an approximate balance of pro- and anti- votes – we’ll essentially be back where we were in June 2016. So much for resolving the Brexit conundrum!

And, if you haven’t voted yet, find your polling place on the Hertsmere web site.

How would Radlett vote now?

If the Brexit referendum were held today Radlett would vote Remain by a substantial margin

Just before the 2016 EU referendum we ran an opinion poll here at Radlett Wire. Although the wider constituency, Hertsmere, voted Leave – by a slightly closer margin than the national one – according to our poll Radlett voted narrowly Remain.

Radlett Wire EU referendum poll results graphic
For our referendum coverage we’ve been using the BBC’s chart format.

In February and March of this year we ran the same poll again. We deliberately asked exactly the same question. It’s the same question, of course, that was printed on the ballot form at the referendum – “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

The overall result increases the Remain margin substantially. If Radlett were to vote again now our poll suggests Remain would win by a comfortable 10% margin (Leave 45.2% – Remain 54.8%).

This time we added a question too: “Is this how you voted in the referendum?”, with possible answers: “Yes, this is how I voted in 2016” and “No, I’ve changed my mind since then.” A total of 11.1% of our respondents (26 individuals) say they have changed their minds about Brexit since they voted in the referendum. And nearly two-thirds of them switched from Remain to Leave. Now this is probably a fairly fragile number – would you admit to changing your mind about a really big decision like this? And the swing that it reveals towards Leave is obviously contradicted by the overall swing in our numbers towards Remain. So this number is likely to remain an intriguing detail rather than a particularly revealing insight

Small print: fewer people participated in our poll this time – 235 against 361 – and, of course, it’s not a valid opinion poll because participants are self-selecting. We can’t tell if the same people participated this time as last time and we can’t be 100% sure that everyone who voted was from Radlett (although we were able to eliminate duplicate votes and spam).

Does all this help us to understand how Radlett will vote in tomorrow’s EU Parliamentary elections? Probably not. For the EU vote the story looks simpler and – as is often the case with Brexit – more complicated at the same time. In this vote – one we were never meant to have – we’re likely to see a big swing to both pro-Brexit parties and anti-Brexit parties. That’ll be helpful, won’t it



What were the big issues for General Election voters in Radlett?

About a week ago, just before the 2017 General Election, we asked you which local issues would motivate you to vote. We did this for the last election too, back in 2015.

So, in order of importance to you, here are the issues that got the Radlett electorate voting, with the 2015 position in italics and the number of votes for each issue (in brackets).

1. The NHS (140) – up from 3rd position
2. Local amenities (134) – up from 8
3. The freight terminal and the green belt (133) – down from number 1
4. Caring for the elderly (130) – up from 11
5. Crime and policing (130) – down from 4
6. Transport and commuting (129) – non-mover
7. Young people (129) – up from 9
8. Development in Radlett (121) – down from 2
9. The Newberries car park development (121) – new entry
10. Housing (120) – up from 12
9. Local business (117) – down from 7
10. Environment (114) – non-mover
11. Or is it really all about Brexit? (112) – new entry
12. Schools (105) – down from 8

The NHS has displaced the freight terminal as your number one concern since 2015, the Newberries car park redevelopment is a new entry at number nine and, although we were really expecting you to tell us that Brexit trumps everything else, it was the second-least important issue in the survey. Does this reflect a national loss of interest in the mechanics of Brexit, now that it’s a done deal? And will the biggest electoral surprise in decades throw the whole Brexit calculation in the air again anyway?

It’s also fascinating that schools have dropped from number eight to last place. The huge cuts coming down the pipe for all state schools are clearly not freaking out the population of Radlett.

Our 2017 election survey results are here. And you can read the 2015 results here.

And on the national scale, Tory donor (and noted tax avoider) Lord Ashcroft runs a large and detailed survey of UK voters after every major vote. His most recent data is absolutely fascinating. He shows, for instance, that the only age group that voted majority Conservative in last week’s election was the over-55s.

Elections in Hertsmere since 1983

A line chart showing Hertsmere Parliamentary election voting data, from 1983-2017That’s 34 years of Hertsmere General Election voting data, from the Thatcher high water mark of 1983 (the biggest landslide since Labour’s 1945 win, you’ll remember) to 2017’s most surprising result, via that other high water mark – Blair’s even bigger 1997 landslide.

The Hertsmere Parliamentary constituency has only existed since 1983. Before it there was a constituency called South Hertfordshire that itself only lasted for three general elections. Cecil Parkinson, a close ally of Margaret Thatcher, held the seat from 1983, when he also ran the extraordinarily successful Conservative national campaign. He was replaced, after a particularly egregious scandal, for the 1992 election, by James Clappison, who went on to be a popular and hard-working constituency representative for five Parliamentary terms.

Clappison was summarily dumped by his party for the 2015 election, though, to make room for David Cameron adviser Oliver Dowden. Dowden himself has spent the last two years building a reputation for hard work and commitment to the constituency and he has, of course, now been re-elected with a higher share of the vote, although a slightly smaller majority.

What all the results in the chart have in common, of course, is the winner. Hertsmere has been a comfortably Conservative seat throughout. Even the Blair revolution, in which Labour took 418 Parliamentary seats, the largest number ever held by a UK party, couldn’t (quite) touch that and, although Fiona Smith has lifted the party further from that dreadful 2010 result, the Corbyn uprising has done essentially nothing to close the gap.

In some ways, the Liberals’ trajectory in the constituency since 1983 is the grimmest of all – steadily falling from a quarter of the vote and second place ahead of Labour – to little more than 5% this year. That’s a snapshot of the national challenge for Farron and his party.

This chart shows the Conservatives’ winning majority in Hertsmere, over the 34-year period. You can see just how close things got in 1997. It’s fascinating to note how long it’s taken the party to recover from that enormous electoral shock.

Chart showing winning majority in Hertsmere Parliamentary constituency from 1983 - 2017

And this chart shows turnout over the same period.
Hertsmere General Election turnout data, 1983-2017

To keep the top chart simple, I’ve left out the minor parties – the levitating transcendentalists from the Natural Law Party (please watch their 1994 European Parliamentary election broadcast); James Goldsmith’s Referendum Party, whose programme looked pretty kooky at the time but now looks like a model of sanity; the Independent Communist candidate whose vote exceeded 2% back in 1983; Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party and the BNP, whose Daniel Seabrook ran once in 2010 before being rendered entirely irrelevant by UKIP. The smaller-party numbers are all included in the raw data, though, in case you’re interested.
(sources: Wikipedia and BBC)

Hertsmere – the results are in

Oliver Dowden acceptance speech 2017Blimey, what a night. British politics has been turned on its head. Young voters have challenged the electoral status quo as never before. A Prime Minister brought low by hubris. But you don’t want to know about all that. You want to know what happened here in Hertsmere, right?
Screenshot of 2017 election results from Hertsmere Parliamentary constituency

As expected, it was not an exciting night in Hertsmere. The photograph (from Hertsmere Borough Council on Twitter), taken during Oliver Dowden’s acceptance speech, properly expresses the frenzy at the count in Borehamwood. It was a good night for Dowden, though. He was re-elected with more votes and an increased share.

He’s won a smaller majority though, and that’s all about a substantially better performance from Labour and the collapse in UKIP’s vote. Fiona Smith, a first time candidate for Labour, built on Richard Butler’s work in 2015, taking Labour’s vote to 14,977, over 6% more than in 2015 and a 28.7% share, the party’s highest since 2001. I predict a solid political future for Fiona Smith.

UKIP’s loss mirrored the national numbers. David Hoy polled only 1,564 votes, 75% fewer than in 2015.

The Liberal Democrats polled almost exactly the same as in 2015, which itself was a thirty-year low point, and the Greens’ return to Hertsmere politics made essentially no difference. Return to two-party politics, anyone?

Turnout was 71%, the best since the high water mark of 1997, when it was 74%.

What to expect from General Election day in Hertsmere

Polling station in New South Wales, Australia, in 1925First of all, if you live in Radlett and can vote, do complete our one-minute survey about local issues influencing Radlett voters. We’ve done this before and it produces lots of useful insight. It’ll be online until 5pm today and we’ll share the results this evening.

We essentially already know the result of the 2017 General Election in our constituency, Hertsmere. It’s the 103rd safest seat in the country for the Conservatives. Only an gigantic electoral earthquake could unseat Conservative incumbent Oliver Dowden so, for Hertsmere, it’s all about the details:

Will Oliver Dowden improve on his 2015 majority of 36.9%? His majority was very close to his predecessor James Clappison’s in 2010 but he had managed to improve his party’s share by more than 3% over 2010.

Will the post-Brexit political ferment increase turnout from 2015’s 67.9%, which was itself up from 64.7% in 2010? National turnout for the 2015 General Election was 66.1%, up over the previous three General Elections but still substantially down on the average for the second half of the 20th Century, when over 70% of the population showed up to vote every time. Some pollsters are projecting a big increase in turnout, thanks to a rush of enthusiasm from young people enthused by Jeremy Corbyn. We’ll see.

Can the Liberal Democrats’ candidate Joe Jordan possibly improve on his party’s disastrous 2015 Hertsmere performance – 2,777 votes, down 11.8 ooints on 2010? 2015 was an especially bad year for the Liberals, for reasons you’ll probably remember, but many think the party has badly miscalculated the electorate’s interest in re-running the Brexit vote. This may even reduce the Lib Dems’ share.

Will UKIP’s vote, which was 6,383 or a 12.7% share in 2015 (over three times the party’s 2010 vote) shrink sharply as it is expected to nationally?

Can Labour’s Fiona Smith overcome the concerns of Hertsmere’s Jewish community, on antisemitism and the party’s position on Israel? She’s been working hard to do so in the constituency but with Labour’s share in 2015 at not much more than a third of the Tory vote, it’s not looking good.

And will the return of The Greens to the fray, with Sophie Summerhahyes, who only joined the party in 2015, further reduce Labour and the Lib Dems’ share in the constituency?

We’ll share the Hertsmere result here and on Twitter and Facebook as soon as we have it. The count, at Allum Lane Community Centre in Borehamwood, is always well organised so we’re expecting a fairly early result. Also on Twitter, the Borehamwood Times and the press team at Hertsmere Borough Council will also be providing election news overnight.

Your Hertsmere candidates are:
Oliver Dowden, Conservative.
David Hoy, UKIP @1DavidHoy
Joe Jordan, Liberal Democrats @GeekofHearts.
Fiona Smith, Labour @Fiona4Hertsmere.
Sophie Summerhahyes, Green Party @Barber_Sophie.

Here’s our detailed analysis of the 2016 referendum vote and of the 2015 General Election vote in Hertsmere.

Your Radlett General Election guide

Let’s start with the 2015 results for the Hertsmere constituency. Here’s our analysis of the voting two years ago.
Screenshot of Hertsmere general election result from BBC web site, 8 May 2015
Four parties stood last time (no Greens) and the Tory share was a substantial 59.3%. According to the excellent Electoral Calculus, Hertsmere is the Conservatives’ 103rd safest seat and Oliver Dowden has a 97% chance of retaining the seat so all the action this year will be at the margins. Will the Liberals lose share, as some predict? Will Labour do better than expected?

Your candidates. There are five this time around:
Oliver Dowden, Conservative.
David Hoy, UKIP.
Joe Jordan, Liberal Democrats.
Fiona Smith, Labour.
Sophie Summerhayes, Green Party.
Here’s what we know about them so far.

And what about that other big vote?. Our polling district voted Leave by a margin of 1.6% (50.8 – 49.2%), putting the district 262nd of the 382 UK polling districts – meaning that 261 districts, or 68% of the total, had larger majorities for Leave. We put together a quite detailed analysis of the Brexit vote in Hertsmere – putting the local vote in the regional and national context. Referendum vote counting was done differently from election counting, so we don’t have ward-by-ward voting data, except for neighbouring Shenley, which, thanks the BBC’s Martin Rosenbaum, we know voted Remain.

Before the 2015 election we ran a survey. We wanted to know what were the Radlett issues that got you all voting. The big issue last time around was the railfreight terminal- a story that has moved on since then but is still not in any way resolved. Do please take two minutes to fill in this year’s survey! It’ll take two minutes and we’ll share the results here and on Facebook and Twitter.

What to do on the big day. There are usually four polling stations in Radlett – the United Synagogue and the Radlett Centre, Newberries Primary School and the Phillimore Community Centre, and if you don’t know which one is yours, there’s a handy web site where you can find out.

Local and Parliamentary elections in Radlett are run by a team at Hertsmere Borough Council. They have a useful web site where you can find out about candidates, counts, previous results and so on. On the My Society web site, there’s a very useful, plain English guide to voting in UK elections.

The 2017 County Council elections in Radlett

Hertfordshire County Council elections 2017, Watling division results

UPDATE: Saturday 6 May.

The County Council results are all in. The details shows a strong swing towards the Conservatives. They’ve gained five seats. Labour has lost six, including their leader on the Council, Leon Reefe. The Liberals gained two. Turnout was 34.1%, substantially up from 28.9% in 2013 (turnout here in Watling Division was also up substantially, from 25.8% to 33%).

UPDATE: 8:40am Friday 5 May.

About a third of Hertfordshire’s County Council electoral divisions will be counting today, but the results so far are clear: a big win for the Conservatives, with an increased majority. The Watford Observer has the live story and the BBC’s results pages will have the national numbers.

Results here in the Watling division also show a big increase in the Conservative share of the vote. Caroline Clapper has taken votes from Labour and from UKIP (who helped out by not standing at all). It’s also likely that an increase in turnout has helped the Tories. An interesting local detail is that the Liberals have almost doubled their 2013 vote.

3,726 votes in total (2013 votes in brackets)
Saif Al-Saadoon, Liberal Democrats 318 votes, 8.5% (176, 6%)
Caroline Clapper, Conservative 2,889 votes, 77.5% (1,874, 63.7%)
Peter Halsey, Labour 344 votes, 9.25% (392, 13.3%)
Jessica Wand, Green Party 175 votes, 4.75% (did not stand)

Wednesday 3 May

Elections. Oh God. Will they never end? Here’s another one to worry about. If you’re resident here and you’ve registered to vote (you have registered to vote, haven’t you?) you’ll be able to vote in the Hertfordshire County Council elections on 4 May – like a kind of warm-up for the big one in June. This is just for the County, though – not District (Hertsmere) or Parish (Aldenham).

If you live in Radlett, your County Councillor is Caroline Clapper (Conservative) and she’s standing for re-election. She represents an electoral district (to avoid confusion, they’re actually called ‘divisions’ at County level) called Watling, which also takes in Aldenham, Letchmore Heath, Elstree and a bit of Borehamwood. Watling Street cuts right through the division, from the Northern end of Radlett to the Southern end of Elstree, where it meets the London Borough of Barnet. 15,000 people live in the Watling division and we’re quite an elderly lot: 54% are over 40 and the largest segment in the age distribution is 50-54 (8.5%). More about the Watling electoral division on the Hertfordshire web site.

Clapper (who is also a Hertsmere Borough Councillor), as well as being a member of the full County Council is also on the Enterprise, Education & Skills cabinet panel and the Overview & Scrutiny Committee.

In Radlett, she recently consulted local people about the redevelopment of Newberries car park via the Radlett Facebook group and the overwhelmingly negative response must have informed her decision to step down from the Hertsmere committee responsible for the planning decision. She’s cannily expressed no personal opinion about the development but she says “I strongly believe that Radlett residents and businesses should have a big say in any major development proposed for our village.”

Clapper won her seat in the 2013 election with a 63.7% share of the vote so she’s unlikely to be packing her desk at County Hall any time soon. The other candidates for this election are: Saif Al-Saadoon for the Liberal Democrats, Peter Halsey for Labour and Jessica Wand for the Greens. Although they came second in 2013, with a 16.5% share, UKIP are not standing this time. Here are the 2013 County Council election results (scroll down for the Watling division results).