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Ealing elections 2010

One in sixteen votes lost

I have seen a lot of ballot papers over the last two days. When the Ealing ballot boxes were opened on Thursday night they were sorted and counted to confirm the number in each box. At this stage it was possible to see the papers and take a straw poll of the result. It was clear before midnight on Thursday that the Tories were in trouble locally. The local papers were then put on one side until 1pm on Friday and they proceeded with the general election count.

Again on Friday afternoon the election agents and candidates oversaw the counting and we got to see thousands of ballots again. Something like 4,800 out of 6,800 votes in Northfield ward were “block” votes where people had voted for a full set of their chosen party’s candidates, about 2,400 for the Conservatives, 1,300 for Labour and 800 for the LibDems leaving as many as 2,000 “split” votes. At this point the Northfield councillors knew we were pretty safe. The blocks are easy to count but then you have to untangle the split votes where people have voted for more than one party. The split votes were multiplied in Northfield because the Greens put up a single candidate so many people split their votes across the one Green and two other candidates from another party.

There were only a handful of spoilt ballot papers but still 6% or one in sixteen of Northfield’s votes were wasted. 6,786 people voted in Northfield but only 19,136 votes were recorded. 1,222 votes went missing. Where?

Too many people only voted once. Clearly they had not read the voting instructions. I can’t imagine this was intentional. You might understand why a diehard Green might only vote once but this was very rare. Many people voted for only one mainstream candidate, a mistake surely? This seemed to affect the LibDems in particular. New, young voters?

I saw at least two papers where someone had put three small crosses against their favourite candidate thinking this would give them three votes – only one was counted. I saw one paper where someone put 1, 2, 3 against three names. This would have counted. I saw about ten ballots where people had crossed over the numbers in the left-hand column. These would have counted.

I saw lots (probably hundreds in total) of bingo ballots where three people from three different parties were chosen. It is hard to divine what someone is doing with that. Showing frustration? Showing their lack of decisiveness?

We should think carefully about these wasted votes. 6% is a lot. The number was perhaps larger than it would have been if the local vote had been on a separate day. But the fact remains that with a relatively simple voting system 6% of votes are lost.

I noted back in May 2008 that the transferable vote system used in the London Mayoral vote had similar problems with 1.7% of first preference votes (equivalent of 41,000 London voters) for Mayor being wasted. It seems the locals are even more wasteful.

It is likely that over the next few years that many hours are going to be spent debating and implementing more complex proportional voting systems for our country. In the process many, many people will be disenfranchised as the voting system gets more complicated.

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Ealing elections 2010

The people have spoken

As I commiserated with ex-councillor Vlod Barczuk tonight he quoted American political fixer Dick Tuck who said:

The people have spoken, the bastards.

Vold has been a great councillor and Ealing has lost a good servant. Vlod is not the first person to use this quote. Ealing North MP, Stephen Pound used it himself on Radio 4 here.

Tonight, after a stupidly long count (it took until after 9.30pm to get the last result out for Walpole ward) it emerged that control of the council had passed from the Tories to Labour, see results here. Labour won 40 seats, with the Tories on 24 and the LibDems on 5.

All three Northfield councillors were re-elected with very comfortable majorities, see here. Thanks to all Northfielders who voted for us.

Congratulations to the Labour group on their achievement in Ealing and to our three new MPs; Virendra Sharma re-elected in Ealing Southall for Labour, Stephen Pound and the new Tory MP for Central Ealing and Acton, Angie Bray.

I am very disapointed that the Tories have lost control of the council. We consistently got good feedback from our residents in Northfield so we do find it a bit perplexing to be chucked out. No doubt we need to listen harder in future.

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Ealing elections 2010 National politics

Four votes today

There are two elections in Ealing today.

Please vote for David Cameron and the Conservatives. We need a strong, capable leader to take us through the next few years. Gordon Brown and Labour have systematically wrecked our finances. Don’t let them blame it on the banks or the credit crunch or international conditions. It is all nonsense. Quite simply government spending has been allowed to rip way in excess of the government’s ability to collect taxes from you and me. Nick Clegg and the LibDems are not the answer.

Please vote for your local Conservatives. You have three votes for three councillors in your ward. Please choose your three Conservative candidates. In four years we have demonstrated that we can deliver decent services to everyone whilst keeping the council tax down. Campaigning four years ago Ealing was visibly down-at-heel. Today it is very different. If you like it vote for it, otherwise it will slip away again.

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Ealing elections 2010

Don’t forget there are two elections

This piece from the BBC serves as a reminder that there are two elections on Thursday. As well as the general election there will be local elections in 164 councils involving something over 4,000 council seats. It is news to many on the doorstep that there will be two elections and two voting slips to deal with on Thursday.

All London’s 32 boroughs elect their councillors in the first week of May every four years and the general election date was selected to coincide with this date – politicians (rightly!) feel that people don’t like being asked to go out and vote twice in short succession so the Prime Minister went with this date rather than hold on for another couple of weeks.

Most long term Ealing residents would agree that the new Conservative council has done a hugely better job at running the borough than the previous Labour administration which lasted 12 years and managed to raise council tax by 48% in its last term of office and deliver dirty streets and poorly rated social services. On Thursday don’t forget to vote for three Conservative councillors whatever you decide to do with the general election if you want to keep Ealing moving in the right direction. If you want to get the country moving again vote for the Conservatives and David Cameron.

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Ealing elections 2010

Three jobs Nigel

I don’t think that “Three jobs Nigel” is a phrase that will catch on not having any rhyme or alliteration. It is still worth asking though what is LibDem candidate for Ealing Southall, Nigel Bakhai, playing at?

It is not unusual for councillors who are standing as parliamentary candidates to stand for both their own wards where they currently sit and Parliament. For instance in Ealing Jon Ball (Central Ealing and Acton, LibDem), Bassam Mahfouz (Central Ealing and Acton, Labour) and Gurcharan Singh (Ealing Southall, Conservative) are all doubling up. The Tory candidate for Ealing North, Ian Gibb, is not standing again as a councillor – it’s double or quits for him.

It also seems understandable if you don’t have a seat and want to be a councillor and at the same time represent your party for a hopeless constituency – for instance the Greens’ Christopher Warleigh-Lack is standing in Elthorne as a councillor and standing for Ealing North. Similarly Sarah Edwards for the Greens is standing in Walpole ward and Ealing Central and Acton.

But, Nigel Bakhai is standing three times over. He is the LibDem candidate for Ealing Southall and was bigging up the LibDems’ poll results only yesterday in the Gazette. He is not making quite so much fuss about the fact that he is standing as a councillor in Elthorne ward where he lives but also in the Hillingdon ward of Botwell. How much work can he be doing in Hillingdon? None I suspect. He is either taking the Mickey out of people in Botwell or Ealing, or both.

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Ealing elections 2010

BBC man stands in Ealing

It may not be such a big shock that a BBC employee who lives in Ealing is standing as a Labour candidate but Chris Summers is a real twerp.

He is standing as a Labour candidate in the Northolt Mandeville ward, see here.

The Guido Fawkes blog has unmasked Summers as a BBC employee who has to deal with election complaints.

When you see his comments on Facebook you have got to figure that he may have problems at work.