Ten things about the election

11 May

1. Turnout was abysmal

Perhaps to spare the blushes of the various parties and candidates that fought the election the council has published any turnout figures, although reports on social media from the count said it was just over 28% for the mayoral election. Looking at the number of votes cast in some wards, it will have been lower than that in a number of places. This is shocking and everyone involved in Newham politics needs to take a long look at themselves and ask why the local electorate has become so disengaged.

2. Labour still dominates

The party won 64 council seats and retained the mayoralty. It took 56.2% of the votes for mayor and 61.5% for council. Although this was not the 100% sweep of recent elections, Labour is still by far the biggest force in Newham politics. Across the 26 wards in the council election the party took 100,535 votes.

3. The Greens are number two

For the first time since 2006 an opposition party won seats on the council, as the Greens took both in the newly created Stratford Olympic Park ward. They were the only other party to field a full slate of 66 candidates (the Tories had 65). Although they narrowly missed out on second place in the mayoral election they finished as runners-up on total votes across the council election with 27,268 – 4,000 ahead of Tories.

4. Your surname is worth votes!

In 21 of the 26 wards the candidate with the most votes had a surname closer to the front of the alphabet than their party colleagues. So in Beckton James Asser finished ahead of Rohima Rahman and Tonii Wilson. In Green Street West Lewis Godfrey topped the poll, followed by Mumtaz Khan and Ama Virdee. The candidates that bucked this trend were Rachel Tripp, Neil Wilson, Mariam Dawood, Steve Brayshaw and Imam Haque.

5. Is Manor Park Labour’s safest seat?

Measured by the gap between the lowest ranked elected councillor and the highest ranked loser, Manor Park is the safest ward in Newham. The opposition will have to close a gap of 1,647 votes to take even one of the three seats.

6. Or is it Maryland?

The new Maryland ward saw Labour score its highest individual vote share, with Carolyn Corben getting 33.8%. Her running mate Ken Penton scored 30.3%, more than 20 points clear of the next best candidate. Given the entire ward is covered by low traffic neighbourhoods and the candidates were unashamedly in favour of them on the doorstep, this should be seen as a vindication of the policy. 

7. Plashet is the most marginal ward

On the same basis, the newly created two councillor ward of Plashet is the Borough’s most marginal. Independent Mehmood Mriza finished just 196 votes behind Labour’s Pushpa Makwana. Beckton is also tight, with a margin of 230 and the Greens only have a 267 vote cushion between themselves and Labour taking back a seat in the Olympic Park.

8. The Independents got nowhere 

The group made a huge fuss about leaving ‘right wing’ Labour and standing on a ‘socialist’ platform of free parking permits, more traffic and setting illegal budgets. They won no seats and five of their seven candidates scored fewer than 200 votes.

9. The Christian Peoples Alliance is surely over

This has been true for several election cycles now, but they keep up coming back. This time their 26 candidates averaged just 131 votes and two of them recorded the joint lowest score across the entire borough with 25 votes each in Stratford Olympic Park. Maybe that’s God’s way of telling them to stop.

10. First Past the Post leaves many voters unrepresented

Labour took 61.5% of the votes and 97% of the seats. The Greens got 16% of the vote and 3% of the seats. The Conservatives got 14% of the vote and no seats at all. Is that fair? I don’t think so.

 

UPDATES (13 May)

First of all, a bonus thing about the election: more people voted to abolish the Mayor in last year’s referendum (36,424) than voted for the mayor last Thursday (35,696). I know it changes nothing, that turnout was lower and it’s a binary choice versus a multi-candidate election, but it amuses me.

Secondly, Cllr Nate Higgins has been in touch to point out – quite reasonably – that looking at closeness by number of votes instead of by percentages makes it seems like the smaller wards are closer than they actually are. The Greens are almost 20 points clear of Labour in Stratford Olympic Park; it’s just a low population ward (because of expected growth). 

6 Responses to “Ten things about the election”

  1. Anon May 13, 2022 at 12:32 #

    Was the low turnout in Newham? How did it compare to other Boroughs and regions?

    Could risk of COVID have had an impact in people deciding to vote?

  2. Kronikal May 13, 2022 at 22:07 #

    Point 1. The low turnout is encouraged by the overwhelming Labour juggernaut, which sucks in most of the political operators, from a fairly wide range of views. There’s little sense of jeopardy, realistically, as regards parties. This time there was clearly one ward in genuine contention, but for most would-be voters there’s not much to engage their interest. Besides, under the executive mayoral system, the mayor has almost all of the power, and there was no chance of an upset for that post. Back-bench Labour councillors (which automatically includes any independently-minded ones) have no real influence on decisions, let alone any opposition councillors.
    But coming from another direction, the thing that most bludgeons the effectiveness of our vote here, is the electoral system, which was your point 10.

  3. Kronikal May 13, 2022 at 22:09 #

    (Point 2. Actually, there’s only 24 wards!)

  4. Kronikal May 13, 2022 at 22:12 #

    Point 4. The surname discrimination applies to the other parties too. It seems that nearly everyone who splits their votes between different parties does it by going down from the top of the ballot paper, and marking the first such ones they come to. Curious that it’s such a strong effect, but it’s not new.

  5. Kronikal May 13, 2022 at 22:13 #

    Point 9. You point out, rightly, the Christian People’s dAlliance with standing such an over-optimistic number of councillors, suggesting it’s God’s way of telling them to stop.
    Maybe it’s time to insist that parties which are consistently that unpopular, pay a hefty deposit for fielding an unreasonably large number of candidates – which of course they would get back if their electoral fortunes suddenly changed – to gently penalize them for (God) bothering us so much.
    Then God’s message would be reinforced with something more tangible and more difficult to ignore.

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