Saturday, 25 June 2016

Looking For The "No English" Shop

One thing I have seen on a Facebook discussion group is that there is a Polish shop in Shirley which has a "No English" sign up, and that English people have been ushered out.

Cue, the whole it's an f-ing outrage, and the we speak English here.

Further details on the discussion of this outrage is that it is "opposite the police station" and "next to the church".

This is what the old Shirley police station looks like when it's tipping down:

So, let's cross over Shirley High Street and see what the view is. What is there opposite the police station? Let's look up the road.

There we have Santo Lounge, the old Barclays' and the old vaping centre. Just off Santo is Shirley Avenue, where my gran lived for the last 20 years of her life.

If we look down the road, we have:

So, there we have it, the incident was at the Polish shop "opposite the police station" and "next to the church".

Which is, er, cunningly disguised as laser hair removal salon. Those pesky Poles! Don't they have a wicked sense of humour. Go in to have your nose hair dealt with and before you know it, you've bought biała kiełbasa.

OK, I'll be charitable and assume that by "opposite the police station" the racist troublemonger friend of a friend of a.......a friend of those ushered out might have meant it happened in Villiers Road.

Nope. Nothing remotely Polish there.

I was thinking about this, and on my way home passed by 2 Polish shops. Maybe "opposite the police station" meant "along from the police station".

Malinka has no such sign, and I popped in - no signs like that inside either.

So I went on and tried Baltic Foods. Again, no such signs.

All that research made me thirsty. So I went in and bought a can of coke - served in English, chatted with staff in English.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The 1994 European Election On Proportional Representation - And Its Consequences

In June 1994, there was an significant national election. It was the only national election Labour have ever contested with a female leader (Margaret Beckett, MP for Derby South), and Labour's 42.60% of the vote was their highest share since Harold Wilson lead them to defeat at the June 1970 general election on 43.07% of the vote, and was the highest national share of the vote for any party since the Conservatives' 48.40% at the inaugural European election of June 1979.

I am, of course, referring to the 1994 election to the European Parliament, which was a time of change for both the United Kingdom and the European Union - indeed it was the first election to the Parliament of the European Union rather than to the Parliament of the European Communities (the term to collectively describe the European Economic Community - or "Common Market" as it was often called in the UK, - the European Coal & Steel Community and the European Atomic Energy Community). It was the last election where the EU was just 12 members, as it would expand to take in Austria, Finland and Sweden the following January.

Not only was European politics on a cusp, but so too was British domestic politics. This was effectively the last election of the 20th century politics. Within weeks, Tony Blair would be Labour leader, transforming his party from the natural party of Opposition into the election-winning machine it became, leaving only the most optimistic Conservative and the most pessimistic socialist believing that the Conservatives stood a chance of winning a fifth term in office. It was the last time that the main parties were the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats - a leaders' debate featuring the Greens, Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru would not have crossed anyone's mind. Multi-party politics was just round the corner. Within 5 years there would be devolved legislatures in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh. It was an era when a large proportion of the House of Lords were men who were simply there because they had inherited a title and seat from their dad.

The notional result for June 1989 was:

  • Labour - 48
  • Conservative - 35
  • Scottish National Party - 1
  • Democratic Unionist Party - 1
  • Social Democratic & Labour Party - 1
  • Ulster Unionist Party - 1

The Conservatives lost 15 seats to Labour and 2 to the Liberal Democrats (one of which, Somerset & North Devon, had seen the Liberal Democrats in fourth place - behind Labour and the Greens - in 1989), while the only other seat to change hands was Labour's loss of Scotland North East to the Scottish National Party.

In the UK, the use of First Past The Post (for the last time, it would transpire) in Great Britain, and Single Transferable Vote in Northern Ireland (as is still the current practice) gave the following result:

  • Labour - 62 (up 14)
  • Conservative - 18 (down 17)
  • Liberal Democrat - 2 (up 2)
  • Scottish National Party - 2 (up 1)
  • Democratic Unionist Party - 1 (unchanged)
  • Social Democratic & Labour Party - 1 (unchanged)
  • Ulster Unionist Party - 1 (unchanged)

In terms of Members of the European Parliament:

Party MEPs after 1989 election Retiring at or before 1994 election Standing for re-election at 1994 election New MEPs MEPs after 1994 election
Re-elected Defeated
Labour 45 5 39 1 23 62
Conservative 32 7 11 14 7 18
Scottish National Party 1 0 1 0 1 2
Democratic Unionist Party 1 0 1 0 0 1
Social Democratic & Labour Party 1 0 1 0 0 1
Ulster Unionist Party 1 0 1 0 0 1
Liberal Democrat 0 0 0 0 2 2
Total 81 12 54 15 33 87

Obviously, the second column (MEPs after the 1989 election) is equal to the sum of third, fourth and fifth columns (the number retiring added to the number re-elected and then number defeated), and the final column (MEPs after the 1994 election) is equal to the fourth column (the number re-elected) added to the sixth column (the number of new MEPs).

Note that the British representation in the European Parliament increased from 81 to 87 at the 1994 election. In 1994, Labour became the largest party in the European Parliament, ahead of the German Social Democrats (who had 40 MEPs) and the German Christian Democratic Union (who had 39 - their sibling party, the Bavarian-based Christian Social Union, had 7).

The Conservatives' 26.93% of the vote saw them descend below their previous low point (the December 1832/January 1833 general election).

The Conservative result could easily have been worse, as a look at their majorities will show:

Constituency Majority Runner-up
Buckinghamshire & East Oxfordshire 16.85% Labour
Surrey 14.01% Liberal Democrat
South Downs West 10.97% Liberal Democrat
London South & East Surrey 5.23% Labour
Hampshire North & Oxford 4.56% Liberal Democrat
Wiltshire North & Bath 4.27% Liberal Democrat
North Yorkshire 3.84% Labour
Itchen, Test & Avon 3.00% Liberal Democrat
East Sussex & South Kent 2.89% Liberal Democrat
Wight & South Hampshire 2.81% Liberal Democrat
Cambridgeshire 2.22% Labour
The Cotswolds 2.18% Labour
Essex North & South Suffolk 1.77% Labour
Dorset & East Devon 1.01% Liberal Democrat
Sussex South & Crawley 0.94% Labour
Worcestershire & South Warwickshire 0.58% Labour
Thames Valley 0.40% Labour
Devon & East Plymouth 0.30% Liberal Democrat

A swing of just 1.50% away from the Conservatives would have seen them lose 11 seats so tying with the Liberal Democrats for second place, with 7 MEPs each, and with Labour on 68.

We can have a quick look at just who would have become MEPs if the Conservatives had lost their 11 most marginal seats.

In East Sussex & South Kent, the Liberal Democrat candidate was David Bellotti, a former MP for Eastbourne.

In Wight & South Hampshire the Liberal Democrat candidate was Mike Hancock, who at the time was a former Social Democrat MP for Portsmouth South, recapturing his old seat at the May 1997 general election and holding it until he came sixth and lost his deposit at the May 2015 general election (the Labour candidate was Sarah McCarthy-Fry, who would go on to be MP for Portsmouth North from the May 2005 general election until losing her seat at the May 2010 general election).

In Cambridgeshire the Labour candidate was Melanie Johnson, who became Labour MP for Welwyn Hatfield from the 1997 election until losing the seat at the 2005 election (the Liberal Democrat candidate was Andrew Duff, who would go on to be an MEP for Eastern England from the June 1999 European election until being defeated at the May 2014 European election).

In The Cotswolds the Labour candidate was Tess Kingham, who would be Labour MP for Gloucester from the 1997 election until retiring at the June 2001 general election.

In Worcestershire & South Warwickshire, the Labour candidate was then known as Gisela Gschaider, and would go on to become MP for Birmingham Edgbaston at the 1997 election - a seat she still holds 18 years later.

And in Devon & East Plymouth, the Liberal Democrat candidate was Adrian Sanders, who would go on to become MP for Torbay at the 1997 election, losing his seat in 2015 (the Labour candidate was Linda Gilroy, who would become MP for Plymouth Sutton from the 1997 election until being defeated at the 2010 election).

Such a small swing would have seen the political map turn yellow (which was then often used to signify the Liberal Democrats, rather than the SNP) along the whole south coast from Land's End to the River Hamble, along with Cornwall, Devon and southern Somerset being Liberal Democrat, and Labour holding the northern parts of Somerset and all of Gloucester (only a small part of Somerset, around Bath, would have remained Conservative).

As it was, the 1994 election saw suburban and market town English Toryism becoming terminally ill - seats such as Essex West & East Hertfordshire, Herefordshire & Shropshire and Kent West - turned as red as Greater Manchester Central, and prefiguring the 1997 Labour landslide. Already wiped out at a European level in both Wales and Scotland in the 1989 election, here England was serving notice to quit on the Conservatives.

With that out the way, we can project the European elections for 1994 onto the regions that have been used since 1999. Some of the European constituencies were split across 2 regions - in these cases we use the April 1992 general election result to determine, for each party, its relative strength in each part. For example, at the 1994 European election, the Conservatives won 44,060 votes in Staffordshire West & Congleton. Looking at the 1992 general election, they won 163,753 votes in that European constituency, of which 29,163 were in Congleton. Hence, we assume that at the 1994 election:

44,060 x 29,163 / 163,753 = 7,847

votes were cast for the Conservatives in Congleton.

With each region I will list 3 types of European constituency - ones contained wholly in the region, ones with the majority part in the region, and ones with the minority part in the region. The links are to the 1999 election, to provide for comparison.

When I compare region-by-region the results under Single Member Plurality (often called First Past The Post) and list Proportional Representation, then for the SMP result I will consider the constituencies wholly contained in the region, or whose majority part lies in the region.

The European constituencies were quite vast (in England, between 6 and 8 Westminster constituencies) and when it came to names, accuracy was often sacrificed on the altar of brevity - e.g. the June 1984 election saw the creation of Bedfordshire, which, despite its name, contained a sizeable chunk of Hertfordshire, including the New Town of Stevanage. One consequence of the vastness of these seats is that an area that politically leans in one direction can be electorally swamped. In June 1997, Hague - at the time the MP for Richmond, one of the safest Conservative seats - became Conservative party leader. And, at the time, his local MEP was Labour as this was the Cleveland & Richmond European constituency. This constituency would have included the fishing villages of the Redcar & Cleveland coast, the industrial areas of Teeside, the new middle-class commuter areas of Stockton and the farming communities of the North Yorkshire Moors. Hence an MEP could expect to have a wide range of constituents and to need to be an expert on an extensive range of issues.

Another aspect was that major cities were divided across European constituencies - Liverpool (Merseyside East & Wigan/Merseyside West), Manchester (Cheshire East/Greater Manchester Central), Newcastle (Northumbria/Tyne & Wear) and Plymouth (Cornwall & West Plymouth/Devon & East Plymouth) are significant examples.

East Midlands (6 seats)

  • Contains whole of - Leicester; Northamptonshire & Blaby; Nottingham & North West Leicestershire; Nottinghamshire North & Chesterfield
  • Contains majority part of - Lincolnshire & South Humberside (72%); Peak District (85%)
  • Contains minority part of - Staffordshire East & Derby (43%)

  • Labour - 585,495 (50.12%)
  • Conservative - 353,150 (30.23%)
  • Liberal Democrat - 157,183 (13.46%)
  • Green - 43,434 (3.72%)
  • UK Independence Party - 8,877 (0.76%)
  • Natural Law Party - 8,274 (0.71%)
  • Independent (Ian Whitaker) - 4,397 (0.38%)
  • Independent (Peter Walton) - 2,710 (0.23%)
  • Liberal - 2,462 (0.21%)
  • Network Against The Child Support Agency - 2,132 (0.12%)

Comparing the results gives us:

Party 1994 1999
Labour 6 3 2
Conservative 0 2 3
Liberal Democrat 0 1 1

Under list PR, the order of the candidates would be chosen by the parties. To get some idea of who the successful MEPs could be, we can look at the sitting MEPs who were standing for re-election in the region:

Candidate Party MEP for (1989 - 1994) Contested (1994) Successful?
Ken Coates Labour Nottingham Nottinghamshire North & Chesterfield Yes
Bill Newton-Dunn Conservative Lincolnshire Lincolnshire & South Humberside No
Mel Read Labour Leicester Nottingham & North West Leicestershire Yes
Anthony Simpson Conservative Northamptonshire Northamptonshire & Blaby No

With 2 sitting MEPs re-elected, this meant the region had 4 new MEPs:

Candidate Party Constituency
Angela Billingham Labour Northamptonshire & Blaby
Veronica Hardstaff Labour Lincolnshire & South Humberside
Arlene McCarthy Labour Peak District
Sue Waddington Labour Leicester

It would not be unreasonable to assume that Newton-Dunn would have been high up enough on the Conservative list to be re-elected, as he would later be in 1999 (he lost the Conservative whip in September 2000, and joined the Liberal Democrats a couple of months later), and that Simpson would be the other Conservative MEP re-elected. Also note that - although she (unsuccessfully) stood in Bedfordshire & Milton Keynes - at the time of the 1994 election Edwina Currie was a Conservative MP for an East Midlands constituency (Derbyshire South). Under PR it is possible that she would have been third on the list here, rather than join the crowded lists for South East England or Eastern England.

No doubt that Coates (who joined the European United Left-Nordic Green Left group in the European Parliament in January 1998 and stood for re-election in 1999 under the banner of Alternative Labour List) and Read would have been the 2 Labour MEPs re-elected on their list. I will speculate about the third later on, as there was another Labour MEP in the East Midlands who was standing for re-election in 1994.

Eastern England (8 seats)

  • Contains whole of - Cambridgeshire; Essex North & South Suffolk; Essex South; Essex West & East Hertfordshire; Hertfordshire; Norfolk; Suffolk & South West Norfolk
  • Contains majority part of - Bedfordshire & Milton Keynes (75%)

  • Labour - 596,227 (39.61%)
  • Conservative - 506,211 (33.63%)
  • Liberal Democrat - 290,397 (19.29%)
  • Green - 51,311 (3.41%)
  • Independent (Somerset de Chair) - 12,409 (0.82%)
  • Liberal - 10,831 (0.72%)
  • Independent (Brian Smalley) - 10,277 (0.68%)
  • New Britain - 9,451 (0.63%)
  • Natural Law Party - 9,204 (0.61%)
  • UK Independence Party - 5,589 (0.37%)
  • National Front - 1,755 (0.12%)
  • Sportsman - 1,127 (0.07%)
  • 21st Century Party - 369 (0.02%)

De Chair had been Conservative MP for Norfolk South West from the November 1935 general election until losing it to Labour at the July 1945 general election, and then MP for Paddington South from the February 1950 general election until retiring at the October 1951 one. He was 82 at the time of the European election, and would die 7 months later. His daughter, Helena, is now the wife of Jacob Rees-Mogg, Conservative MP for Somerset North East.

Comparing the results gives us:

Party 1994 1999
Labour 6 4 2
Conservative 2 3 4
Liberal Democrat 0 1 1
UK Independence Party 0 0 1

As before, we can look at the sitting MEPs who were standing for re-election in the region:

Candidate Party MEP for (1989 - 1994) Contested (1994) Successful?
Paul Howell Conservative Norfolk Norfolk No
Anne McIntosh Conservative Essex North East Essex North & South Suffolk Yes
Patricia Rawlings Conservative Essex South West Essex West & East Hertfordshire No
Amédée Turner Conservative Suffolk Suffolk & South West Norfolk No

With just McIntosh re-elected in this region, this meant there were 7 new MEPs:

Candidate Party Constituency
Richard Howitt Labour Essex South
Hugh Kerr Labour Essex West & East Hertfordshire
Eryl McNally Labour Bedfordshire & Milton Keynes
Clive Needle Labour Norfolk
Robert Sturdy Conservative Cambridgeshire
David Thomas Labour Suffolk & South West Norfolk
Paul Truscott Labour Hertfordshire

On a list system, it would not be unreasonable to assume that the top 4 places on the Conservative list would go to those MEPs seeking re-election, and one of them would lose out.

And on a list system, not all of the Labour MEPs that were elected would be able to be in the top 4. With hindsight, Labour would probably have hoped these didn't include Kerr - who joined the Green group in the European Parliament in January 1998, and contested Scotland at the 1999 European elections at the top of the Scottish Socialist Party list - and Truscott, who was suspended from the House of Lords in May 2009, and now sits as Independent Labour.

London (10 seats)

  • Contains whole of - London Central; London East; London North; London North East; London North West; London South East; London South Inner; London South West; London West
  • Contains majority part of - London South & East Surrey (75%)

  • Labour - 816,312 (51.01%)
  • Conservative - 472,852 (29.55%)
  • Liberal Democrat - 186,479 (11.65%)
  • Green - 59,987 (3.75%)
  • UK Independence Party - 26,740 (1.67%)
  • Natural Law Party - 9,856 (0.62%)
  • Liberal - 6,454 (0.40%)
  • National Front - 4,889 (0.31%)
  • Restoration of Capital Punishment - 4,063 (0.25%)
  • Third Way - 3,484 (0.22%)
  • Monster Raving Loony Party - 2,490 (0.16%)
  • Communist Party of Great Britain - 1,727 (0.11%)
  • Socialist Party of Great Britian - 1,593 (0.10%)
  • European People's Party Judaeo-Christian Alliance - 880 (0.05%)
  • 21st Century Party - 740 (0.05%)
  • International Communist Party - 679 (0.04%)
  • Rainbow - 547 (0.03%)
  • Spirit of Europe - 377 (0.02%)

Comparing the results gives us:

Party 1994 1999
Labour 9 6 4
Conservative 1 3 4
Liberal Democrat 0 1 1
Green 0 0 1

As before, we can look at the sitting MEPs who were standing for re-election in the region:

Candidate Party MEP for (1989 - 1994) Contested (1994) Successful?
Richard Balfe Labour London South Inner London South Inner Yes
Nicholas Bethell Conservative London North West London North West No
Michael Elliott Labour London West London West Yes
Pauline Green Labour London North London North Yes
Alf Lomas Labour London North East London North East Yes
James Moorhouse Conservative London South & East Surrey London South & East Surrey Yes
Stan Newens Labour London Central London Central Yes
Anita Pollack Labour London South West London South West Yes
Peter Price Conservative London South East London South East No
Carole Tongue Labour London East London East Yes

Note that none of London's MEPs were retiring. With 8 sitting MEPs re-elected, this meant there were 2 new MEPs for this region:

Candidate Party Constituency
Robert Evans Labour London North West
Shaun Spiers Labour London South East

For the Conservatives it would seem quite easy. Bethell (who later returned as an MEP at the 1999 election), Moorhouse and Price would surely be the top 3 on the list. With hindsight, this would not be a good idea, as Price defected to the Liberal Democrats in December 1997, followed by Moorhouse in October 1998.

Moorhouse's defection is important, and I will return to this later.

At least one of Labour's sitting MEPs would fail to make the top 6 on the party list. However, for the 1999 election, Pollack switched regions, standing (unsuccessfully) in South East England.

With regards to the Liberal Democrats, the most obvious choice would be Sarah Ludford, who was elected at the 1999 election and lost her seat at the 2014 election.

North East England (4 seats)

  • Contains whole of - Durham; Northumbria; Tyne & Wear
  • Contains majority part of - Cleveland & Richmond (83%)

  • Labour - 446,124 (67.48%)
  • Conservative - 115,489 (17.47%)
  • Liberal Democrat - 65,204 (9.86%)
  • Green - 19,405 (2.94%)
  • UK Independence Party - 7,210 (1.09%)
  • Liberal - 4,174 (0.63%)
  • Natural Law Party - 3,478 (0.53%)

Comparing the results gives us:

Party 1994 1999
Labour 4 3 3
Conservative 0 1 1

As before, we can look at the sitting MEPs who were standing for re-election in the region:

Candidate Party MEP for (1989 - 1994) Contested (1994) Successful?
Gordon Adam Labour Northumbria Northumbria Yes
David Bowe Labour Cleveland & North Yorkshire Cleveland & Richmond Yes
Alan Donnelly Labour Tyne & Wear Tyne & Wear Yes
Stephen Hughes Labour Durham Durham Yes

As Labour would only win 3 seats on a list system, one of these would have to miss out.

For the Conservatives, the most successful candidate was Robert Goodwill, who became an MEP for Yorkshire & Humberside at the 1999 election, before stepping down at the 2004 election, and then elected MP for Scarborough & Whitby at the 2005 general election.

North West England (10 seats)

  • Contains whole of - Cheshire East; Cheshire West & Wirral; Cumbria & North Lancashire; Greater Manchester Central; Greater Manchester East; Greater Manchester West; Lancashire Central; Lancashire South; Merseyside East & Wigan; Merseyside West
  • Contains minority part of - Staffordshire West & Congleton (14%)

  • Labour - 885,890 (54.86%)
  • Conservative - 441,366 (27.33%)
  • Liberal Democrat - 194,553 (12.05%)
  • Green - 45,908 (2.84%)
  • Liberal - 13,341 (0.83%)
  • British Home Rule - 12,918 (0.80%)
  • Natural Law Party - 12,211 (0.76%)
  • Make Criminals Concerned About Our Response To Hostility & Yobbishness - 3,693 (0.23%)
  • Independent (Eva Rokas) - 3,439 (0.21%)
  • Monster Raving Loony Party - 1,600 (0.10%)

Comparing the results gives us:

Party 1994 1999
Labour 10 6 4
Conservative 0 3 5
Liberal Democrat 0 1 1

As before, we can look at the sitting MEPs who were standing for re-election in the region:

Candidate Party MEP for (1989 - 1994) Contested (1994) Successful?
Richard Fletcher-Vane Conservative Cumbria & North Lancashire Cumbria & North Lancashire* No
Glyn Ford Labour Greater Manchester East Greater Manchester East Yes
Lyndon Harrison Labour Cheshire West Cheshire West & Wirral Yes
Michael Hindley Labour Lancashire East Lancashire South Yes
Eddie Newman Labour Greater Manchester Central Greater Manchester Central Yes
Brian Simpson Labour Cheshire East Cheshire East Yes
Kenneth Stewart Labour Merseyside West Merseyside West Yes
Gary Titley Labour Greater Manchester West Greater Manchester West Yes
Michael Welsh Conservative Lancashire Central Lancashire Central No
Terry Wynn Labour Merseyside East Merseyside East & Wigan Yes

[* Due to boundary changes, Cumbria & North Lancashire was notionally a Labour seat]

With 8 sitting MEPs re-elected, this meant the region had 2 new MEPs:

Candidate Party Constituency
Tony Cunningham Labour Cumbria & North Lancashire
Mark Hendrick Labour Lancashire Central

For the Conservatives, the logical choice would have been to give Fletcher-Vane and Welsh the top 2 places on the list to ensure they werre both re-elected.

Labour would have had 8 sitting MEPs chasing 6 places. However, for the 1999 election, Ford switched regions, being elected in his native South West England.

Scotland (8 seats)

  • Contains whole of - Fife & Mid Scotland; Glasgow; Highlands & Islands; Lothians; Scotland North East; Scotland South; Strathclyde East; Strathclyde West

  • Labour - 635,955 (42.51%)
  • Scottish National Party - 487,239 (32.57%)
  • Conservative - 216,669 (14.48%)
  • Liberal Democrat - 107,811 (7.21%)
  • Green - 23,304 (1.56%)
  • Scottish Militant Labour - 12,113 (0.81%)
  • Natural Law Party - 5,037 (0.34%)
  • Liberal - 3,249 (0.22%)
  • Socialist Party of Great Britain - 1,832 (0.12%)
  • UK Independence Party - 1,096 (0.07%)
  • Communist Party of Great Britain - 689 (0.05%)
  • North East Ethnic Party - 584 (0.04%)
  • International Communist Party - 381 (0.03%)

Note this is the dim-and-distant long-forgotten era when Labour was a successful party in Scotland. It used to top the polls there!

Comparing the results gives us:

Party 1994 1999
Labour 6 4 3
Scottish National Party 2 3 2
Conservative 0 1 2
Liberal Democrat 0 0 1

As before, we can look at the sitting MEPs who were standing for re-election in the region:

Candidate Party MEP for (1989 - 1994) Contested (1994) Successful?
Ken Collins Labour Strathclyde East Strathclyde East Yes
Winnie Ewing Scottish National Party Highlands & Islands Highlands & Islands Yes
Alex Falconer Labour Fife & Mid Scotland Fife & Mid Scotland Yes
Henry McCubbin Labour Scotland North East Scotland North East No
Hugh McMahon Labour Strathclyde West Strathclyde West Yes
David Martin Labour Lothians Lothians Yes
Alex Smith Labour Scotland South Scotland South Yes

With 6 sitting MEPs re-elected, this meant the region had 2 new MEPs:

Candidate Party Constituency
Allan Macartney Scottish National Party Scotland North East
Bill Miller Labour Glasgow

None of the Conservative candidates went on to have any type of parliamentary career, or were ex-MPs, so none strike me as the obvious person to be top of the list. However, there was a former Conservative MEP for Scotland who returned to the European Parliament in 1994.....

Labour would have 6 sitting MEPs - so at least 2 of them would have failed to be re-elected under PR.

With the Scottish National Party, we could expect that Ewing and Macartney - who at the time was its depute leader - would take the top 2 places on the list. Among unsuccessful candidates there were some who would later go on and serve as Members of the Scottish Parliament - Keith Brown became MSP for Ochil at the May 2007 Scottish election, being now the MSP for the successor constituency of Clackmannanshire & Dunblane and the Scottish Secretary for the Economy, Jobs & Fair Work; Colin Campbell became MSP for Scotland West at the inaugural Scottish election in May 1999, retiring in May 2003; and Christine Creech became MSP for Scotland South at the 1999 election and is now MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale & Lauderdale.

It is possible that - if PR had been used - Ewing would not be the only person having a dual mandate as an MEP and MSP for a few weeks in 1999.

However, the most experienced of the SNP's unsuccessful candidates was Dick Douglas, the former Labour MP for Dunfermline West.

South East England (11 seats)

  • Contains whole of - Buckinghamshire & East Oxfordshire; East Sussex & South Kent; Hampshire North & Oxford; Kent East; Kent West; South Downs West; Surrey; Sussex South & Crawley; Thames Valley; Wight & South Hampshire
  • Contains majority part of - Itchen, Test & Avon (73%)
  • Contains minority part of - London South & East Surrey (25%); The Cotswolds (16%)

  • Conservative - 826,353 (37.19%)
  • Labour - 599,361 (26.98%)
  • Liberal Democrat - 589,670 (26.54%)
  • Green - 83,300 (3.75%)
  • UK Independence Party - 55,258 (2.49%)
  • Liberal - 16,680 (0.75%)
  • Natural Law Party - 14,698 (0.66%)
  • Independent (John Browne) - 12,140 (0.55%)
  • Independent (David Horner) - 7,106 (0.32%)
  • Independent (John Walker) - 4,627 (0.21%)
  • New Britain - 4,498 (0.20%)
  • Monster Raving Loony Party - 3,708 (0.17%)
  • Independent (Nigel Furness) - 2,618 (0.12%)
  • Boston Tea Party - 1,018 (0.05%)
  • Restoration of Capital Punishment - 759 (0.03%)

Browne had been elected Conservative MP for Winchester at the May 1979 general election. In March 1990 he was suspended without pay from the House of Commons for 4 weeks and chose not to seek re-election, so the Conservatives chose Gerald Malone, the former MP for Aberdeen South as their candidate. Browne then decided he would stand after all, and had the Conservative whip withdrawn. In the 1992 general election he came last in Winchester, and stood again at the 1997 general election, where - despite coming joint last with the Monster Raving Loony Party - he won more votes than the Liberal Democrat majority. Also contesting in 1997 (and in the November 1997 by-election) was the Literal Democrat, Richard Huggett - more about him when I look at South West England.

Comparing the results gives us:

Party 1994 1999
Conservative 9 5 5
Labour 2 3 2
Liberal Democrat 0 3 2
UK Independence Party 0 0 1
Green 0 0 1

As before, we can look at the sitting MEPs who were standing for re-election in the region:

Candidate Party MEP for (1989 - 1994) Contested (1994) Successful?
James Elles Conservative Oxford & Buckinghamshire Buckinghamshire & East Oxfordshire Yes
Christopher Jackson Conservative Kent East Kent East No
Edward Kellett-Bowman Conservative Hampshire Central Itchen, Test & Avon Yes
Ben Patterson Conservative Kent West Kent West No
Tom Spencer Conservative Surrey West Surrey Yes
Jack Stewart-Clark Conservative Sussex East East Sussex & South Kent Yes
John Stevens Conservative Thames Valley Thames Valley Yes

With just 5 sitting MEPs re-elected, this meant the region had 6 new MEPs:

Candidate Party Constituency
Brendan Donnelly Conservative Sussex South & Crawley
Graham Mather Conservative Hampshire North & Oxford
Roy Perry Conservative Wight & South Hampshire
James Provan* Conservative South Downs West
Peter Skinner Labour Kent East
Mark Watts Labour Kent East

[* Provan had been MEP for Scotland North East from 1979 to 1989]

It is interesting to note that this is the region where the UK Independence Party had its biggest successes. Nigel Farage - who would go on to become their leader - won 5.40% of the vote in Itchen, Test & Avon (he also contested the Eastleigh by-election, which was one of 5 by-elections held the same day as the European election, and Craig Mackinlay (now the Conservative MP for Thanet South, where he defeated Farage) won 5.16% of the vote in Kent West.

The Conservatives would have had 7 MEPs seeking re-election, with 2 of them having to miss out on the top 5 places that would secure re-election.

For the Conservatives this was not a good region for keeping MEPs. As I noted earlier, Moorhouse in London South & East Surrey defected to the Liberal Democrats. We also had Spencer losing the whip in January 1999 after customs found drugs and pornography, as well as Stevens and Donnelly forming the Pro-Euro Conservative Party in February 1999.

For the Conservatives, this election saw Provan become a re-tread. If PR had been used, then I expect he would have chosen to remain in Scotland and top the Conservative list there.

Labour had no sitting MEPs here, but in 1999 Pollack contested South East England, so I expect that if PR had been used in 1994 she would have done the regional switch 5 years before she did in reality.

Like Labour, there were no sitting Liberal Democrat MEPs. I guess that, as former MPs, Bellotti and Hancock would have been the top 2 on the list. But who would have been the third?

In 1999, the Liberal Democrats elected here were Emma Nicholson - now a member of the House of Lords - and Chris Huhne, who became MP for Eastleigh at the 2005 general election, joined the Cabinet as Energy & Climate Change Secretary when the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition Government was formed after the 2010 general election, and then had a spectacular fall from grace.

However, at the time of the 1994 European election, Nicholson was Conservative MP for Devon West & Torridge, not defecting to the Liberal Democrats until December 1995, retiring at the 1997 general election and joining the House of Lords later that year.

At the time, dual mandates (such as Nicholson being an MEP and a member of the House of Lords) were acceptable - it was not until the European Parliament (House of Lords Disqualification) Regulations 2008 took effect at the June 2009 European elections that MEPs were disqualified from sitting in the House of Lords during their term of office. The European Communities (Definition of Treaties) (Common Electoral Principles) Order 2004, implemented the 2002 Decision of the European Council which stated:

From the European Parliament elections in 2004, the office of member of the European Parliament shall be incompatible with that of member of a national parliament.

with the derogation:

Members of the United Kingdom Parliament who are also members of the European Parliament during the five-year term preceding election to the European Parliament in 2004 may have a dual mandate until the 2009 European Parliament elections, when the first subparagraph of this paragraph shall apply.

While Huhne had contested a couple of constituencies in South East England for the Social Democrats (Reading East at the June 1983 general election, and Oxford West & Abingdon at the June 1987 general election), he did not stand anywhere at the 1994 European election - nor the general elections either side, so we can assume he was not actively seeking to become a parliamentarian at the time.

So, we can rule Nicholson and Huhne out. Third on the Liberal Democrat list for 1999 was Sharon Bowles, who had come third in Buckinghamshire & East Oxfordshire in 1994 (which included Aylesbury, where she had come second to the Conservatives at the 1992 and 1997 general elections). She became an MEP when Huhne had to resign upon his election as an MP, and retired at the 2014 European election.

Fourth on the list was Bellotti, and fifth was Jo Hawkins, at the time leader of Newbury District Council. and who was the runner-up in Hampshire North & Oxford (which included western parts of Berkshire centred on Newbury) at the 1994 election.

My guess is that the Liberal Democrats MEPs who would have been elected are Bellotti, Bowles (beginning her European career 11 years early) and Hancock.

South West England (7 seats)

  • Contains whole of - Bristol; Cornwall & West Plymouth; Devon & East Plymouth; Dorset & East Devon; Somerset & North Devon; Wiltshire North & Bath
  • Contains majority part of - The Cotswolds (84%)
  • Contains minority part of - Itchen, Test & Avon (27%)

  • Liberal Democrat - 517,293 (33.29%)
  • Conservative - 513,588 (33.05%)
  • Labour - 367,227 (23.63%)
  • Green - 57,691 (3.71%)
  • UK Independence Party - 32,032 (2.06%)
  • Liberal - 21,381 (1.38%)
  • New Britain - 16,439 (1.06%)
  • Literal Democrat - 10,203 (0.66%)
  • Natural Law Party - 7,440 (0.48%)
  • Mebyon Kernow - 3,315 (0.21%)
  • Independent (Ian Mortimer) - 3,229 (0.21%)
  • Independent (John Everard) - 2,629 (0.17%)
  • Christian People's Party - 725 (0.05%)
  • Subsidarity Party - 606 (0.04%)

Comparing the results gives us:

Party 1994 1999
Liberal Democrat 2 3 1
Conservative 4 2 4
Labour 1 2 1
UK Independence Party 0 0 1

As before, we can look at the sitting MEPs who were standing for re-election in the region:

Candidate Party MEP for (1989 - 1994) Contested (1994) Successful?
Christopher Beazley Conservative Cornwall & Plymouth Cornwall & West Plymouth No
Bryan Cassidy Conservative Dorset East & West Hampshire Dorset & East Devon Yes
Margaret Daly Conservative Somerset & West Dorset Somerset & North Devon No
Caroline Jackson Conservative Wiltshire Wiltshire North & Bath Yes
Henry Plumb Conservative The Cotswolds The Cotswolds Yes
Ian White Labour Bristol Bristol Yes

With 4 sitting MEPs re-elected, this meant the region had 3 new MEPs:

Candidate Party Constituency
Giles Chichester Conservative Devon & East Plymouth
Robin Teverson Liberal Democrat Cornwall & West Plymouth
Graham Watson Liberal Democrat Somerset & North Devon

Plumb had been President of the European Parliament from January 1987 to July 1989 and was given a life peerage in April 1987. Immediately after the election, he returned to his pre-Presidency role as leader of the Conservative MEPs.

The Conservatives had 5 sitting MEPs seeking re-election, so at least 3 of them would have been defeated.

Labour had 1 sitting MEP (White) seeking re-election, and it is feasible that Ford would have abandoned North West England to seek election in South West England.

This region saw one of the most controversial results in Devon & East Plymouth, where Huggett, standing as a Literal Democrat, obtained 10,203 votes - more than Chichester's 700 vote majority over Sanders - which led to concerns that there were people who voted for Huggett who had misread his designation and assumed he was the Liberal Democrat candidate. The Registration of Political Parties Act 1998 tidied up the rules on how candidates described themselves on the ballot paper. Note than this constituency also saw the sole Liberal candidate in the region.

One interesting test we can do is to consider what would have happened if the election had been under PR and Huggett could therefore have a "party list" (with just his name on). It is obvious that you can only vote for a person (or party) who is standing where you are voting, and so in the real world, under SMP, only voters in Devon & East Plymouth could vote for him. In that constituency, the combined Liberal Democrat/Literal Democrat vote is 84,456 - higher than Chichester's 74,953.

In South West England outside of Devon & East Plymouth, the Liberal Democrats got 443,040 votes. Now suppose that these got confused between the Liberal Democrats and the Literal Democrats in the same ratio as the voters of Devon & East Plymouth.

This gives us:

10,203 x 443,040 / 84,456 = 53,523

confused voters.

This would bring the Liberal Democrats down to 463,770 - behind the Conservatives, and hence the Conservatives would have 3 MEPs and the Liberal Democrats 2. So, even under a list system of PR, Huggett's intervention could have cost the Liberal Democrats a seat.

Wales (5 seats)

  • Contains whole of - Wales Mid & West; Wales North; Wales South Central; Wales South East; Wales South Central; Wales South West

  • Labour - 530,749 (55.86%)
  • Plaid Cymru - 162,478 (17.10%)
  • Conservative - 138,349 (14.56%)
  • Liberal Democrat - 82,480 (8.68%)
  • Green - 19,413 (2.04%)
  • Natural Law Party - 6,081 (0.64%)
  • UK Independence Party - 5,536 (0.58%)
  • Independent (Maxwell Cooksey) - 1,623 (0.17%)
  • Welsh Socialist - 1,270 (0.13%)
  • European Candidate from Planet Beanus - 1,106 (0.12%)
  • Communist Party of Britain - 1,073 (0.11%)

Comparing the results gives us:

Party 1994 1999
Labour 5 3 2
Plaid Cymru 0 1 2
Conservative 0 1 1

One thing to note is that Labour would have won the first 3 seats to be allocated, with Plaid Cymru the penultimate one and the Conservatives just beating Labour to the fifth one.

As before, we can look at the sitting MEPs who were standing for re-election:

Candidate Party MEP for (1989 - 1994) Contested (1994) Successful?
Wayne David Labour Wales South Wales South Central Yes
David Morris Labour Wales Mid & West Wales South West Yes
Joe Wilson Labour Wales North Wales North Yes

With 3 sitting MEPs re-elected, this meant there were 2 new MEPs:

Candidate Party Constituency
Glenys Kinnock Labour Wales South East
Eluned Morgan Labour Wales Mid & West

Labour would have had 3 sitting MEPs seeking re-election, with 3 places that would be filled. One question is whether Kinnock - who was more well-known among the public than the siting MEPs - would have simply been placed fourth on the list, or whether she would have been placed ahead of some of the sitting MEPs.

There is one way Welsh Labour could have managed this, though. After the 1994 election, David became the leader of the Labour MEPs, but in May 1999 he contested Rhondda at the first election to the National Assembly of Wales, losing to Plaid Cymru's Geraint Davies. At the 2001 election, he became MP for Caerphilly - and he still is the big cheese of Caerphilly politics.

In January 1995, Kinnock's husband, Neil - the former Leader of the Opposition - resigned as MP for Islwyn in order to become a member of the European Commission, triggering a by-election the following month. Would it not be possible that - if proportional representation had been used - then he could have resigned much earlier, knowing that he was going to be nominated for the Commission, and David chosen as the candidate for the Islwyn by-election, leaving Labour with just 2 sitting MEPs seeking re-election?

For the Conservatives, the most succeesful candidate was Peter Bone, now the MP for Wellingborough. However, at the time the only Conservative to have ever been a Welsh MEP was Beata Brookes, who had represented Wales North from 1979 to 1989 and was Chairwoman of the Welsh Conservatives at the time of the 1994 election.

The most successful Plaid Cymru candidate was Dafydd Wigley, at the time its leader and MP for Caernarfon - if successful, then there would have been a trio of party leaders being MEPs (with the Democratic Unionist Party's Ian Paisley and the Social Democratic & Labour Party's John Hume).

In the summer of 1995 myself and some friends were staying in the Ceredigion & North Pembrokeshire constituency, and one of them asked whether we knew that the constituency had a Green MP. Actually, it didn't, but when Plaid Cymru's Cynog Dafis won the seat from the Liberals (from fourth place) in 1992, it was with support from the local Greens.

Since 1999, the Greens and Plaid Cymru have sat together in the European Parliament in the Greens/European Free Alliance grouping (along with the Scottish National Party). I had a look at what the effect would be if Plaid Cymru and the Greens were to run a joint list - there would be no difference in the number of seats, but the winning MEP would take the third seat, rather than the fourth.

West Midlands (8 seats)

  • Contains whole of - Birmingham East; Birmingham West; Coventry & North Warwickshire; Hereford & Shropshire; Midlands West; Worcestershire & South Warwickshire
  • Contains majority part of - Staffordshire East & Derby (57%); Staffordshire West & Congleton (86%)
  • Contains minority part of - Peak District (15%)

  • Labour - 654,893 (49.45%)
  • Conservative - 386,169 (29.16%)
  • Liberal Democrat - 184,864 (13.96%)
  • Green - 47,402 (3.58%)
  • Natural Law Party - 10,286 (0.78%)
  • For British Independence & Free Trade - 9,432 (0.71%)
  • UK Independence Party - 9,202 (0.69%)
  • National Independence Party - 8,447 (0.64%)
  • Liberal - 7,932 (0.60%)
  • National Front - 3.727 (0.28%)
  • Socialist Party of Great Britain - 1,969 (0.15%)

Comparing the results gives us:

Party 1994 1999
Labour 7 5 3
Conservative 1 2 4
Liberal Democrat 0 1 1

As before, we can look at the sitting MEPs who were standing for re-election in the region:

Candidate Party MEP for (1989 - 1994) Contested (1994) Successful?
Christine Crawley Labour Birmingham East Birmingham East Yes
Christine Oddy Labour Midlands Central Coventry & North Warwickshire Yes
Christopher Prout Conservative Shropshire & Stafford Hereford & Shropshire No
John Tomlinson Labour Birmingham West Birmingham West Yes

With 3 sitting MEPs re-elected, this meant there were 5 new MEPs:

Candidate Party Constituency
John Corrie Conservative Worcestershire & South Warwickshire
David Hallam Labour Hereford & Shropshire
Simon Murphy Labour Midlands West
Michael Tappin Labour Staffordshire West & Congleton
Phillip Whitehead Labour Staffordshire East & Derby

Note that this region produced quite a few peerages - on the Labour side, life peerages were awarded in July 1998 to Tomlinson, followed by Crawley. On the Conservative side, Prout was ennobled in October 1994 and became Shadow Lord Chancellor in June 1997. At the time of the election he had been leader of the Conservative MEPs since April 1987.

As noted above, as the law stood at the time, it was possible for someone to serve as a peer and an MEP simultaneously.

With the large number of sitting MEPs retiring in this region, both the Conservatives and Labour would have been able to put their MEPs seeking re-election high enough on the list to ensure re-election, with 1 space spare on the Conservative list and 2 on the Labour list.

Yorkshire & Humberside (7 seats)

  • Contains whole of - Humberside; Leeds; North Yorkshire; Sheffield; Yorkshire South; Yorkshire South West; Yorkshire West
  • Contains minority part of - Cleveland & Richmond (17%); Lincolnshire & South Humberside (18%)

  • Labour - 641,170 (53.78%)
  • Conservative - 298,731 (25.05%)
  • Liberal Democrat - 180,780 (15.16%)
  • Green - 43,058 (3.61%)
  • New Britain - 8,027 (0.67%)
  • Liberal - 7,589 (0.64%)
  • Natural Law Party - 7,332 (0.61%)
  • UK Independence Party - 3,948 (0.33%)
  • Network Against The Child Support Agency - 841 (0.07%)
  • International Communist Party - 834 (0.07%)

Party 1994 1999
Labour 6 4 3
Conservative 1 2 3
Liberal Democrat 0 1 1

As before, we can look at the sitting MEPs who were standing for re-election in the region:

Candidate Party MEP for (1989 - 1994) Contested (1994) Successful?
Roger Barton Labour Sheffield Sheffield Yes
Peter Crampton Labour Humberside Humberside Yes
Michael McGowan Labour Leeds Leeds Yes
Edward McMillan-Scott Conservative York North Yorkshire Yes
Tom Megahy Labour Yorkshire South West Yorkshire South West Yes
Barry Seal Labour Yorkshire West Yorkshire West Yes
Norman West Labour Yorkshire South Yorkshire South Yes

Uniquely, all sitting MEPs in this region were re-elected.

It would be likely that McMillan-Scott would top the Conservative list. Among the Liberal Democrats, Diana Wallis - who would be elected in this region at the top of her party list in 1999 and retired in January 2012, not being replaced by her husband - contested Humberside.

Labour would have had a bit of a problem - only 4 MEPs out of its 6 would be re-elected. However, in 1989 Barton and Crampton were elected for cross-region seats. At the 1994 election Humberside lost its East Midlands part (the constituencies of Brigg & Cleethorpes and Great Grimsby) to Lincolnshire & South Humberside), while Sheffield lost its East Midlands part (the constituencies of Chesterfield and Derbyshire North East) to Nottinghamshire North & Chesterfield. Hence, if the 1994 election had been on list proportional representation, then it would have been sensible for either Barton or Crampton to join Coates and Read on Labour's East Midlands list of candidates.

The overall result would have been:

  • Labour - 43 (down 5)
  • Conservative - 25 (down 10)
  • Liberal Democrat - 12 (up 12)
  • Scottish National Party - 3 (up 2)
  • Plaid Cymru - 1 (up 1)
  • Democratic Unionist Party - 1 (unchanged)
  • Social Democratic & Labour Party - 1 (unchanged)
  • Ulster Unionist Party - 1 (unchanged)

A bad result for the Conservatives, of course, but not as bad as it was under SMP. At the 1989 election, Labour had gained 13 seats and the Conservatives lost 13. The Conservative spin operation would note that the Conservatives suffered a worse loss in 1989 but went on to win the subsequent general election, and draw attention to Labour's modest advance.

Of course, the election of the United Kingdom's MEPs was just a small part of the European election, and the overall result was, in reality:

  • Party of European Socialists (PES) - 198 (including 62 Labour and 1 Social Democratic & Labour Party)
  • European People's Party (EPP) - 158 (including 18 Conservative and 1 Ulster Unionist Party)
  • European Liberal Democrat & Reform Party (ELDR) - 42 (including 2 Liberal Democrat)
  • European United Left (EUL) - 28
  • Non-attached (NA) - 28 (including 1 Democratic Unionist Party)
  • Forza Europa (FE) - 26
  • European Democratic Alliance (EDA) - 26
  • Greens (Grn) - 23
  • European Radical Alliance (ERA) - 19 (including 2 Scottish National Party)
  • Europe of Nations (EN) - 19

We can consider the impact at an EU-level if Great Britain had used Proportional Representation, and it gives a different result:

  • Party of European Socialists - 179 (including 43 Labour and 1 Social Democratic & Labour Party)
  • European People's Party - 165 (including 25 Conservative and 1 Ulster Unionist Party)
  • European Liberal Democrat & Reform Party - 52 (including 12 Liberal Democrat)
  • European United Left - 28
  • Non-attached (NA) - 28 (including 1 Democratic Unionist Party)
  • Forza Europa - 26
  • European Democratic Alliance - 26
  • Greens - 23
  • European Radical Alliance - 21 (including 3 Scottish National Party and 1 Plaid Cymru)
  • Europe of Nations - 19

While the Party of European Socialists would have remained the largest grouping, its initial lead over the European People's Party would be reduced from 40 MEPs to 14. And the Liberal Democrats would be the largest delegation in the European Liberal Democrat & Reform Party group.

The merger of Forza Europa and the European Democratic Alliance in July 1995 would not - as it did in reality - have put the new Union for Europe in third place; instead it would be in fourth place, 6 seats behind the ELDR. The decision in November 1996 by 8 of Portugal's Social Democrats to leave the ELDR and join their party colleague, Francisco Lucas Pires, in the EPP is the event that would have pushed the ELDR into fourth place.

June and July 1998 saw a stream of Forza Italia MEPs leaving the UFE and joining the EPP. Antonio Tajani's defection in the June of that year would have seen the ELDR end up joint third in size, and would also have put the PES just 2 seats ahead of the EPP.

If Great Britain had used proportional representation, then the defection of a group of 14 Forza Italia MEPs from the UFE to the EPP in July 1998 would have seen the EPP end up the largest group (something it never managed in the 1994-1999 Parliament).

We can look at the results of the 1999 one, and we get:

  • Conservative - 36 (up 18)
  • Labour - 29 (down 33)
  • Liberal Democrat - 10 (up 8)
  • UK Independence Party - 3 (up 3)
  • Green - 2 (up 2)
  • Scottish National Party - 2 (unchanged)
  • Plaid Cymru - 2 (up 2)
  • Democratic Unionist Party - 1 (unchanged)
  • Social Democratic & Labour Party - 1 (unchanged)
  • Ulster Unionist Party - 1 (unchanged)

This looks quite dramatic - Labour losing over half their seats and the Conservative number of seats doubling. It is easy to see why this was such a fillip for the Conservatives.

If, however, the 1994 election had been on the same system as subsequent elections, the 1999 result would be:

  • Conservative - 36 (up 11)
  • Labour - 29 (down 14)
  • Liberal Democrat - 10 (down 2)
  • UK Independence Party - 3 (up 3)
  • Green - 2 (up 2)
  • Scottish National Party - 2 (down 1)
  • Plaid Cymru - 2 (up 1)
  • Democratic Unionist Party - 1 (unchanged)
  • Social Democratic & Labour Party - 1 (unchanged)
  • Ulster Unionist Party - 1 (unchanged)

While a Conservative success, the changes in seats would have been less. and cooler heads would reflect that the change in seats is similar to 1989 and note that Labour's advance that year didn't see it win the general election three years later. It would be more normal-mid-term-election-result stuff rather than Labour-is-going-to-lose-the-next-election.

And, a look region-by-region would show the changes as being:

Region or Nation Party
East Midlands Up 1 Down 1 Unchanged n/a n/a n/a n/a
Eastern England Up 1 Down 2 Unchanged Up 1 n/a n/a n/a
London Up 1 Down 2 Unchanged n/a Up 1 n/a n/a
North East England Unchanged Unchanged n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
North West England Up 2 Down 2 Unchanged n/a n/a n/a n/a
Scotland Up 1 Down 1 Up 1 n/a n/a Down 1 n/a
South East England Unchanged Down 1 Down 1 Up 1 Up 1 n/a n/a
South West England Up 2 Down 1 Down 2 Up 1 n/a n/a n/a
Wales Unchanged Down 1 n/a n/a n/a n/a Up 1
West Midlands Up 2 Down 2 Unchanged n/a n/a n/a n/a
Yorkshire & Humberside Up 1 Down 1 Unchanged n/a n/a n/a n/a

To clarify what this is - this table shows, region-by-region, the changes in MEPs for each party at the 1999 election compared to a 1994 election on list Proportional Representation.

So, it's pretty much an increase for the Conservatives and decrease for Labour across the board - just what you'd expect for a mid-term election. But for the Liberal Democrats it's different. Yes, there is that breakthrough in Scotland (hot on the heels of them becoming part of the Scottish Executive), while in the south there is a decline.

If we assume that Sanders, Teverson and Watson were the Liberal Democrat MEPs elected in South West England in 1994, then it is reasonable to assume that Sanders - as an MP - would have chosen not to contest the 1999 election, meaning that either Teverson or Watson lost their seat. And, in South East England, if we assume that Bellotti, Bowles and Hancock were the Liberal Democrat MEPs elected in 1994, then - for similar reasons - it is likely that Hancock would not have stood in 1999, meaning that Bellotti and Bowles are re-elected (and Huhne never becomes an MEP, so the whole points issue never happens).

For the Liberal Democrats, it also means that Paddy Ashdown's leadership ends on a bit of a downer.

So, these are the British consequences of the 1994 European election being held on list Proportional Representation. But what about the European ones? I have already mentioned that in the European Parliament, the Party of European Socialists' initial lead over the European People's Party would have been narrower - and would eventually disappear. Ironically, just a few months after William Hague - at the time the Conservative party leader - had ruled out joining the single European currency until 2007 at the earliest - then the federalist group which Conservative MEPs belonged to would have become the largest group.

European Union negotiations are a bit of give-and-take, and we have to ask whether there was anything that the other members of the European Council could have offered the then-Prime Minister, John Major, in return for Great Britain electing our MEPs using the same method as the rest of the EU (apart from Ireland and Northern Ireland)?

Well, there was a battle that Major fought and lost, which has had repercussions, and it goes back to his predecessor, Margaret Thatcher, signing away the national veto with the introduction of Qualified Majority Voting in the Council.

At the time of the 1994 election, the voting weights in the Council were:

  • France - 10
  • Germany - 10
  • Italy - 10
  • United Kingdom - 10
  • Spain - 8
  • Belgium - 5
  • Greece - 5
  • Netherlands - 5
  • Portugal - 5
  • Denmark - 3
  • Ireland - 3
  • Luxembourg - 2

That was a total of 76 votes. In order for legislation to pass the Council, 54 votes were needed.

However, it was normal to express this the other way round, i.e. how many votes does it take to block? This would be 23, or 30.3% of the total.

Hence, if the British Government wanted to block something, it just needed 13 more votes - which isn't too difficult to manage.

As noted above, Austria, Finland and Sweden were about to join, and the voting weights allocated to them were to be:

  • Austria - 4
  • Sweden - 4
  • Finland - 3

So, the total number of votes was to increase to 87. And the number of votes needed to pass legislation in the Council was increased to 62. Hence, the number of votes to block rose to 26 - or 29.9% of the total.

This was the big area of disagreement. Major wanted the blocking minority to remain at 23 (which was 26.4% of the total), whilst the rest of the European Council wanted the blocking minority to remain around 30%.

To be honest, it wouldn't have made much difference, but we were already in the era where "Europe" was seen as a zero-sum game.

Interestingly, Major did eventually win on this issue - or to be more precise, Blair achieved the victory that Major had wanted. In preparation for the major expansion of the EU in May 2004, the Treaty of Nice re-weighted the votes from February 2003:

  • France - 29
  • Germany - 29
  • Italy - 29
  • United Kingdom - 29
  • Spain - 27
  • Netherlands - 13
  • Belgium - 12
  • Greece - 12
  • Portugal - 12
  • Austria - 10
  • Sweden - 10
  • Finland - 7
  • Denmark - 7
  • Ireland - 7
  • Luxembourg - 4

In the period between the Treaty of Nice coming into force and the 2004 enlargement, there was a total of 237 available votes in the Council. 176 votes were needed to pass anything - hence the blocking minority was 62, which was 26.2% of the total, so just slightly less than what Major had aimed for.

We can sum up what the probably consequences would have been of Great Britain using list Proportional Representation for the 1994 European election:

  • The Conservative defeat in 1994 wouldn't have been so dramatic - and neither would the Conservative revival in 1999
  • By the summer of 1998, Conservative MEPs would be in the largest grouping in the European Parliament
  • The Liberal Democrats would have debuted in the 1994-1999 European Parliament as the largest party in the third largest grouping
  • The Conservatives would have had MEPs in Scotland, North West England and North East England - rather than their northernmost MEP being in Yorkshire & Humberside

Friday, 15 April 2016

The Euro In Your Pocket

I notice that it's been several years since I have been outside the United Kingdom - the last year I was abroad was in 2012, when I visited Brussels for a long weekend in the April (including trips to Germany), and then visited the USA in the May and June.

With a short holiday in the Netherlands coming up, there is one of those tasks that has to be done - getting the foreign currency.

And it is this which reinforces the idea that I am going abroad. If I visit Scotland or Northern Ireland, I have no need to change currency, although I will, of course, end up with non-Bank of England sterling banknotes.

It could have been different. We could have gone down the road of using the euro as our currency.

I was never persuaded by the pseudo-romantic "Queen's head" argument - the appearance of the Queen's head on Bank of England banknotes dates back to the 1960s, and moreover, at the time of the debate of whether we should adopt the euro I was living in Scotland, so used to carrying around Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank banknotes without the Queen's head on. And, if we had adopted the euro, then the Queen's head would still appear on the coins that would have been produced by the Royal Mint for the European Central Bank.

As I gather together my euro notes, and try and find where I put the coins from my trip to Brussels, I can't help feeling that "Europe" is something "other". That using sterling rather than the euro reminds us that we are different, and that - at least while we remain - the European Union will lack one of the things that makes a nation a nation, namely a single currency.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

The Nuclear Option - Why Moderate Labour MPs Should Vote For An Early Election

Toby Perkins, the Labour MP for Chesterfield, has raised the prospect of an early general election, noting:

In June, decades of Tory infighting are set to reach a crescendo with the referendum on membership of the European Union. The prospect of the Prime Minister standing down in the event of a vote to leave has been often mooted. However, I believe that the forces unleashed within the Conservative party are so great that, whether Cameron wins or loses, many of their MPs and activists will feel it is time for a change at the top. Cameron fired the starting gun on the race to succeed him when he announced that he will not fight another general election and, as Tony Blair can testify, once the lid is off the bottle it can be very difficult to re-seal it.

In the event that Cameron goes, I expect his successor to look very keenly at whether the Labour party is capable of fighting a snap general election. The new Conservative leader would, of course, insist this was nothing to do with naked political calculation. You can already imagine the argument, a new Tory leader arguing that “unlike Gordon Brown, I am not going to be an unelected Prime Minister”.

Many people assume that the Fixed Term Parliament Act would prevent the Tories from cutting and running but they are wrong. The Act, designed to hold the coalition together, does allow an early general election to be called if agreed by two thirds of the House of Commons. If a new Conservative leader demanded a general election it is impossible to imagine how Labour could refuse to go to the country.

Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011, the dates of the next general election is 7 May 2020, followed by 1 May 2025 - as long as there is nothing that triggers an early election. As Perkins notes, one method is the two-thirds vote:

2 Early parliamentary general elections

(1) An early parliamentary general election is to take place if—

(a) the House of Commons passes a motion in the form set out in subsection (2), and

(b) if the motion is passed on a division, the number of members who vote in favour of the motion is a number equal to or greater than two thirds of the number of seats in the House (including vacant seats).

(2) The form of motion for the purposes of subsection (1)(a) is—

“That there shall be an early parliamentary general election.”

With there being 650 MPs (including the Speaker and 3 Deputy Speakers who only cast a vote in a tie, and 4 Sinn Féin ones who don't take their seats), 434 MPs need to vote for such a motion. Even in the Labour landslide of May 1997, it was 22 seats short of two-thirds. Apart from wartime coalitions, we have to go back to November 1935 to find an elected Government with over two-thirds the seats in the Commons (and, ironically, that was a Parliament that postponed the subsequent election).

Note that such a motion doesn't actually set the date for the early election:

(7) If a parliamentary general election is to take place as provided for by subsection (1) or (3), the polling day for the election is to be the day appointed by Her Majesty by proclamation on the recommendation of the Prime Minister (and, accordingly, the appointed day replaces the day which would otherwise have been the polling day for the next election determined under section 1).

Hence, it simply returns to the Prime Minister the power to set the election day - and interestingly, there is no time limit specified. Theoretically, there is nothing to stop the House of Commons voting today for an early election, and 312 years down the line using that vote to hold an election a few months early.

The Conservatives currently have 329 MPs - hence need the support of a further 105 MPs to trigger an early election. Where could this support come from?

The third largest group in the Commons is the Scottish National Party, with 54 MPs (2 of the SNP MPs elected in May 2015 sit as Independents). They have only 3 target seats:

Seat Swing needed Held by
Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale 0.77% Conservative
Orkney & Shetland 1.80% Liberal Democrat
Edinburgh South 2.68% Labour

While it would be tempting for the SNP to go for an early election to try and get a clean sweep of Scottish constituencies - especially if the May election to the Scottish Parliament shows them still having momentum - there are risks of losing seats if the Conservatives and/or Liberal Democrats pick up support. Labour isn't really much of a threat to the SNP - the only seats where the SNP majority over Labour is less than 10% are Renfrewshire East (6.55%) and Edinburgh North & Leith (9.65%).

The next group to look at is the Unionist contingent from Northern Ireland (8 Democratic Unionist Party, 2 Ulster Unionist Party and 1 Independent Unionist). May 2015 was a good election for Unionism, with 2 seats being picked up from non-Unionists - the DUP gained Belfast East from the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland and the UUP gained Fermanagh & South Tyrone from Sinn Féin. However, these were both due to Unionist pacts, which may or may not be present at the next election, and in Fermanagh & South Tyrone there is the possibility of some of the remaining Social Democratic & Labour Party vote going to Sinn Féin to give them back a seat with a Nationalist/Republican majority.

The only targetable Nationalist/Republican seat is the interesting 4-way marginal of Belfast South, which a Unionist pact could win from the SDLP (which could backfire if - as at the May 2010 general election - Sinn Féin chooses to step down to help the SDLP, or UUP supporters prefer to vote for the APNI rather than the DUP).

And in the DUP seat of Upper Bann, the Unionist vote could split in such a way that - along with tactical voting by SDLP supporters - this seat falls to Sinn Féin.

At the moment, you can go from Northern Ireland's westernmost point to its northernmost or its easternmost with the entire journey in Unionist seats. For Unionism, the current position is as good as it gets.

Next are the Liberal Democrats, who are down to 8 seats:

Seat Majority Over
Westmorland & Lonsdale 18.29% Conservative
Ceredigion 8.20% Plaid Cymru
Norfolk North 8.18% Conservative
Leeds North West 6.70% Labour
Sheffield Hallam 4.24% Labour
Orkney & Shetland 3.59% Scottish National Party
Carshalton & Wallington 3.17% Conservative
Southport 3.00% Conservative

The Liberal Democrats stand on a precipice. Only their leader, Tim Farron, in Westmorland & Lonsdale, is safe. In 2015, there was clearly tactical voting in Sheffield Hallam, with Conservatives protecting Nick Clegg - at the time the Liberal Democrat leader and Lord President of the Council - from a Labour onslaught, but any reason to protect him has now gone. To be blunt, if an early election were held in the near future, then Clegg is out, with Labour winning all of Sheffield.

But, for the Liberal Democrats, there is a prize that could be won if they gamble on an early election. Just look at the seats they would win on a 5% swing:

Seat Swing needed Held by
Cambridge 0.58% Labour
Eastbourne 0.69% Conservative
Lewes 1.07% Conservative
Thornbury & Yate 1.54% Conservative
Twickenham 1.63% Conservative
Dunbartonshire East 1.97% Scottish National Party
Kingston & Surbiton 2.39% Conservative
St Ives 2.56% Conservative
Edinburgh West 2.93% Scottish National Party*
Torbay 3.42% Conservative
Sutton & Cheam 3.93% Conservative
Bath 4.06% Conservative
Burnley 4.08% Labour
Bermondsey & Old Southwark 4.36% Labour
Yeovil 4.67% Conservative
Fife North East 4.80% Scottish National Party

[* Michelle Thomson, the MP for Edinburgh West, no longer sits for the SNP]

These are all seats which the Liberal Democrats lost in 2015. Although they will be fighting against first term incumbents in most of these, the party would be able to argue that it has moved on from the days of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition, and is under new management, and one that Labour supporters can vote tactically for. While it would not stand a chance of overtaking the SNP to become the third largest party, a credible fourth place is possible.

It will be the circumstances in other parties will determine what the Liberal Democrats will be in the next Parliament - in my lifetime they have gone from being a home for those on the left who felt Labour was too left-wing (the Liberal/Social Democrat Alliance era), to being a home for those on the right who felt the Conservatives were too right-wing (the Ashdown era), to being a home for those on the left who felt Labour was too right-wing (the Kennedy era) and then being part of a centre-right Government (the Clegg era).

Next is Plaid Cymru, with only 3 seats:

Seat Majority Over
Dwyfor Meirionnydd 18.20% Conservative
Carmarthen East & Dinefwr 14.21% Labour
Arfon 13.67% Labour

These are all quite safe seats, and there's only 2 seats which would fall to Plaid Cymru on a swing of less than 5%:

Seat Swing needed Held by
Ynys Môn 0.33% Labour
Ceredigion 4.10% Liberal Democrat

Even if a motion for an early general election received the support of all the non-Labour voting MPs, this still would not be enough for the two-thirds needed. Hence, there would need to be some Labour MPs willing to press the button and send their party into an election which not only would it not win, but would see it do worse than in 2015.

Turkeys need a very strong motivation to vote for Christmas. So, why would a Labour MP do this?

Firstly, it could stop Momentum's momentum. As the Daily Mail notes:

Labour is done for a generation. If the Corbynites are successful in their efforts to seize control of every aspect of the internal machinery, to deselect non-hard-Left MPs, and to turn a potential party of government into a puritanical protest movement, Labour is done for good.

A snap election would be before this scenario has played to completion. Constituency Labour Parties would have to find candidates as short notice. Any Corbynite group wanting to deselect their MP would suddenly find they had a much shorter timescale in which to get their plans together, and would be wrong-footed. A generation ago, Labour MPs knowing the hard Left would deselect them had nothing to lose by defecting to the Social Democrats. In this generation, Labour MPs knowing that Momentum will get them deselected in time for 2020 have nothing to lose by forcing an election in 2016.

Secondly, and associated with this, Corbynism will have faced its test at the ballot box - and have been rejected. Just as the June 1983 election result made Labour realise it had to move back towards the centre to win, losing the next election would tell Labour the same.

And, connected with that is the third reason - it brings the next Labour-led Government forward. At the moment, Labour clearly will not win in 2020, and will be back in office at the 2025 election at the earliest. But the 2011 Act has timetabling rules:

Date of next election Scheduled date of following election
Up to 28 April 2016 7 May 2020
5 May 2016 to 27 April 2017 6 May 2021
4 May 2017 to 26 April 2018 5 May 2022
3 May 2018 to 25 April 2019 4 May 2023
2 May 2019 to 30 April 2020 2 May 2024

Naturally, there is not going to be an early election before May this year, but if a snap one were held post-referendum, this would bring the subsequent one forward to May 2021. Labour has to experience defeat before it comes to its senses.

But I have to say that - despite seeing Labour's opinion poll rating going south since he became Leader of the Opposition - Jeremy Corbyn is an asset to Labour. He has played a significant role in uniting the Left, and bringing politically passionate people into Labour who were disillusioned during the Blair/Brown Government. The challenge for his successor will be to win back the types of voters who gave Labour its landslides around the turn of the century without alienating those Corbyn has brought back. If he or she does that, Labour's biggest electoral successes lie in the future. One of the first acts of the next Labour leader should be to make Corbyn the Labour Party Chairman.

The fourth reason is that due to a clause in the Electoral Registration & Administration Act 2013, the Boundary Commissions will present their reports to Parliament in September 2018, and these will be the new constituencies used at the 2020 election - or at any early election after late 2018.

And these are likely to be bad new for Labour. There should be provisional boundaries produced soon, giving parties a more specific idea of how the changes will impact them. It would be in Labour's interests to get the next general conducted on the current boundaries - and hence, out of the way before the new constituencies are formally approved.

The fifth one might sound - at first - to be an odd reason. Namely, it will reinforce the Anglicisation of the Labour party.

During the Blair era - and especially the Brown era - there were the predictable Daily Mail stories that we had a Government dominated by Scots. For example, take the sextet of senior members of the Government that took office in 1997:

  • Prime Minister - Tony Blair (born in Scotland)
  • Environment, Transport & Regional Affairs Secretary - John Prescott (born in Wales)
  • Lord Chancellor - Derry Irvine (Scottish)
  • Chancellor of the Exchequer - Gordon Brown (Scottish)
  • Foreign & Commonwealth Secretary - Robin Cook (Scottish)
  • Home Secretary - Jack Straw

Out of the six, only Straw would be English enough for the Daily Mail.

Although it has to be said that it was North East England - rather than Scotland - dominating that Government. In addition to Blair (representing Sedgefield), there was South Shields's David Clark as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Redcar's Mo Mowlam as Northern Ireland Secretary.

Although Clark was dismissed in the July 1998 reshuffle, out of the four new members of the Cabinet, only Margaret Jay - as Lord Privy Seal, Leader of the House of Lords and Minister for Women - was not an MP for North East England (actually, she wasn't an MP for anywhere), with Newcastle-upon-Tyne East & Wallsend's Nick Brown becoming Agriculture Minister, Tyneside North's Stephen Byers as Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Hartlepool's Peter Mandelson as Trade & Industry Secretary.

Even Mandelson's resignation in December 1998 didn't reduce the North East contingent, as Byers replaced him and was, in turn, replaced by Darlington's Alan Milburn.

Mowlam being moved to Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in October 1999 and replaced by a returning Mandelson brought the number of Cabinet members sitting for North East constituencies up to 6 - which was over one-quarter of the Cabinet from Great Britain's smallest region.

However, the perception remained of the Government being dominated by Scots - and, when we look at elections, we can see why Scotland would punch above its weight in Labour Governments:

Election Labour MPs % from Scotland
UK Scotland Labour MPs All MPs
July 1945 393 37 9.41% 11.09%
February 1950 315 37 11.75% 11.36%
October 1951 295 35 11.86% 11.36%
May 1955 277 34 12.27% 11.36%
October 1959 258 38 14.73% 11.27%
October 1964 317 43 13.56% 11.27%
March 1966 363 46 12.67% 11.27%
June 1970 287 44 15.33% 11.18%
February 1974 301 40 13.29% 11.18%
October 1974 319 41 12.85% 11.18%
May 1979 268 44 16.42% 11.18%
June 1983 209 41 19.62% 11.08%
June 1987 229 50 21.83% 11.08%
April 1992 271 49 18.08% 11.06%
May 1997 418 56 13.40% 10.93%
June 2001 412 55 13.35% 10.93%
May 2005 355 40 11.27% 9.13%
May 2010 258 41 15.89% 9.08%
May 2015 232 1 0.43% 9.08%

I should clarify what the percentages are. The first one is the percentage of Labour MPs that were elected for Scottish constituencies, and the second the percentage of all MPs that were elected for Scottish constituencies.

If the first percentage is in bold, then it is an increase from the previous election's. And what we see is that, as Labour support falls, normally this leads to the Scottish section of the Parliamentary Labour Party increasing its numerical influence in the PLP - with a peak at the 1987 election when the Conservatives losing around half their Scottish seats to Labour meant that 21.83% of Labour MPs were representing Scottish constituencies.

For most of the post-war period Scotland (and, indeed, Wales and North East England) have been areas where Labour is entrenched. However tough it gets elsewhere, these are places where Labour keeps on winning. Hence, during the low points for Labour, these areas carry the load and hit above their weight.

But now Labour has lost Scotland. In the polling for the Scottish Parliament election it is tying with the Conservatives, which would lead to a close battle for second place, when you run the results through the Scotland Votes website:

When we looked at the Liberal Democrat target seats, we saw that Dunbartonshire East and Edinburgh West would fall back on less than a 3% swing. Third on the Conservative target list is Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk, which needs just a 0.30% swing. However, as I noted earlier, Labour needs a swing of 3.28% to have a second Scottish seat - and is at risk of losing the one it has.

Picture then, a general election which sees Labour - if it has any Scottish MPs - reduced to being Scotland's fourth party in terms of Westminster seats. Gone would be the days of the Blair/Brown Government, where there was the perception that Labour was favouring Scotland above England. Instead, it would enable voters in England to see Labour as a quintessentially English party.

In addition, Labour support in Wales is falling, and the boundary changes will hit Wales more than anywhere else in the United Kingdom, as it would lose around one-quarter of its seats.

For Labour, things will just get worse as this Parliament continues. The best thing for their long-term future is an early election - however damaging that will be in the short-term.