UK 2017: Green Party won’t stand in Ealing constituency

Here is something we do not see in First-Past-the-Post elections* as much as the Duvergerianists seem to think we should: one party agreeing not to have a candidate in order to avoid vote-splitting in a district.

The Green Party has pulled out of a crucial election seat in a bid to help the Labour Party beat the Tories – the first tactical withdrawal of its kind ahead of the general election.

The decision is expected to allow more votes to go to Labour MP Rupa Huq, who beat the Conservatives with a majority of just 274 votes in 2015, when no other party managed to attract more than seven per cent of the vote.

Green Party members in Ealing — where the party won 1,841 votes in the 2015 election — voted not to field a candidate last week, after Ms Huq promised to campaign for voting reform and the environment.

* Except in India!

24 thoughts on “UK 2017: Green Party won’t stand in Ealing constituency

  1. At what point does anecdotal evidence of (in)formal stand downs and alliances become actual evidence of a grassroots movement? But, more to the point, how much more of this is needed to create a real effect on the Tories? They are only polling in the low 40s, I believe, so they can be beaten. But (un)officlal agreements and alliances would probably be needed in hundreds of constituencies.

    How long before somone in the Conservative camp calls these things undemocratic?

    The joys of FPTP….


    • Or start calling for criminal laws penalising vote-swapping websites, or “recruiting a person to stand as a candidate with the intention of splitting the vote”, and other such horrors that the Posties in other jurisdictions have resorted to.
      Okay, Tasmania has a ban on handing out how-to-vote cards near polling booths on election day, but that regulates rather than prohibits the exercise of the basic democratic right to vote as directed by party leaders and not make one’s own mind up about the candidates.


      • Actually, the Conservatives are doing quite a bit better than that in the polls. According to wikipedia all but one of this month’s polls has had them on 46-49%.


    • Unless there is a really large shift in voter preferences (or a very large polling error), this will be the most “two party” UK election in some time. And yet it will not actually be competitive between the top two.


  2. UKIP also seem to be following the Duvergerian path; they will only run 377 candidates, though this may partially be due to the collapsing nature of the party (spending £500 to run a candidate in Hackney North and Stoke Newington would not seem to be the wisest of decisions); however, Paul Nuttall has spoken approvingly of the party not running candidates against pro-Brexit Conservative MPs.


  3. I had a brief conversation recently with an Americanist (i.e. studying American Politics) friend about why so many districts go uncontested in the US. I contended that the rule that representatives must be residents of their district – which as far as I know exists in many states – might play some role in preventing beginning politicians from trying out their luck in districts safe for the opposite party, as they do in many (most?) other single-seat district countries. He was not impressed by the argument that parties in, say, the UK, find it useful to field candidates that are sure to lose in order to test out first-time candidates, who, if they perform well, might be advanced to more winnable seats at the next election, stating unshakably that districts are left uncontested in the US because the opposition know they have no chance in getting elected there.

    It’s interesting how something so commonplace (the rule, even) in Commonwealth countries would seem so utterly strange in another country ostensibly using the same class of electoral system. By no means do I think the ban on out-of-district candidates is the only factor – I have a feeling this is a case where the outcome (uncontested seats) is the result of multiple institutions acting together, most importantly perhaps the primary system and other institutions contributing to parties functioning without a hierarchy or much joint purpose, which prevents them from doing making the long-term investment of putting up candidates in districts where they are sure to lose.


    • Representatives (at least at the federal level) do not have to live in their districts, just in the same state. It’s quite rare for successful candidates not to live in the district, but it has happened.


    • There is no such rule in the US, although it can be an election issue, as in the campaign for the Sixth District of Georgia where the Democrat lives outside the district. It can also be an election issue in Commonwealth countries. In Australia an absentee candidate always promises to live in the electorate and a candidate who finds themself outside their electorate because of redistribution will generally move back into the electorate.

      Neville Wran, a major figure in NSW politics in the 70s and 80s is the only exception I know.

      Wran lived in Sydney’s rather upscale Eastern Suburbs while he held a district far away in Sydney’s West but Wran was actually an MLC when elected opposition leader and had to run for the first district he could find. The good people of Bass Hill seem to have become rather fond of their absentee silvertail MLA. It may have helped that Wran was opposition leader and then premier shortly afterwards. He resigned the seat the day he left the premiership.

      I’d submit that candidates tend to run in districts that are reasonably competitive and those districts are becoming surprisingly rare under the impact of contemporary US redistricting practice.


      • That’s not true. Numerous states require elected members to reside in their district. I don’t know if any of those states have tried to apply this rule to the Federal House of Representatives, but they have certainly applied it to their own legislatures.


      • Let me correct myself to say ‘no such federal rule’. The US supreme court has tended to take a negative view on state attempts to impose additional qualifications on federal candidates as seen in the series of term limit decisions.


  4. Pingback: The UK 2017 result–Comparative data forays | Fruits and Votes

  5. Thanks heavens, say British voters, that our Strong One-Person One-Vote Electoral System has saved this country from a tiny micro-party like the Liberal Democrats, with its 12 seats, and whom 96.8% of Britain’s voters saw listed on their ballot-papers, wagging the entire dog despite being supported by only one in thirteen of the voters.
    Instead we have the DUP, with its 10 seats, and whom 97.2% of Britain’s voters did not see listed on their ballot-papers, wagging the entire dog despite being supported by, er, only one in one hundred and eleven of the voters.
    Nicely done, Mother of Parliaments.


    • And thank Heavens that our Strong One-Person One-Vote Electoral System keeps extremist parties such as the DUP far from the centre of power! Oh wait…


      • Yes, a massively increased vote for the Left means a Conservative government further to the Right. But don’t forget, every second Tuesday that’s a full moon in a leap-year, AV-STV Is Not Monotonic!
        Mind you, if Corbyn Labour are really that worried about the Tory government being unduly beholden to the Orange Order, they could always pledge to have Labour MPs abstain on supply and confidence votes, thus relieving Boris of the need to pander by expelling all Jesuits and repealing the Toleration Act. Safe to say this will not, of course, happen (any more than Tony Abbott’s often-expressed deep, deep concerns about Gillard Labor 2010-13 being too dependent on The Greens in any way restrained his Coalition troops from playing parliamentary hardball against the minority government – including, on one notorious occasion, refusing a pair to a Labor Minister whose wife was having a baby).


      • Yes, a massively increased vote for the Left means a Conservative government further to the Right. But never forget, every second Tuesday that’s a full moon in a leap-year, AV-STV Is Not Monotonic!


      • Well, under the Swiss system Labour would be allocated a more Cabinet seats but the DUP wouldn’t. Having said that, under consociational systems legislation is often negotiated, so maybe even with Grand Coalition proportional Cabinets for Britain the DUP would still be able to get a law passed requiring the Pope to be whipped across London bridge every Guy Fawkes Day.


    • And thank heavens for Snollygaster’s Law which tells us the only way to achieve deep electoral reform is to oppose any and all electoral reform that is not deep electoral reform which matches your own system preference. The avalanche of calls for electoral reform in the UK press since the election result is yet another ineluctable proof of Snollygaster’s research.


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