The question has changed from WHY to WHO since the last election.
The 2015 election gave sceptical, mostly left leaning voters the impetus they needed for this time round.
“Don’t vote and you’ll get the Conservatives.”
Brexit had a similar, probably even stronger effect.
“Don’t vote and you might unhinge yourself from the open door of free movement.”
The consequences of not being involved are real and recent.
These electoral disappointments are close enough to be felt with a bit of heat still, and that incandescence is political in nature for many. But if you aren’t going to vote Conservative in Somerton and Frome, who should you go for?
The Conservatives will win Somerton and Frome?
During the last election David Warburton got more than half of the vote, collecting more than every other candidate combined.
He will win again, despite the Guardian reporting how farmers have lost faith with the Tories. That faith, although dwindled on the arable, is still strong in other politically pious corners of the constituency. Notably UKIP voters and Brexiteers.
Arguments to the contrary are probably based on facebook memes or the insanely hypocritical ream of fakery the left seems to throw out on social media. (Both sides do it, yes, but the left moans while the right just sits there smiling like Mr Burns, taking a finger from Smithers. Excceelllaannt).
Why will they win?
UKIP aren’t running this year, which means their shiny 2015 ten percent of the vote is up for grabs. Almost all of it will go to Warburton, minus a few spoiled ballot papers.
In the last election Alan Dimmick was the UKIP candidate. When I interviewed the retired refrigerator mechanic in the top room of pretentiousness’ La Strada Cafe, I couldn’t help noticing how difficult he found it to speak clearly. And yet he managed to garner more votes than the Green candidate Theo Simon, a well spoken and passionate activist.
The point being that National Elections are about National Sentiment, and rarely local personality. On a national level, without UKIP to vote for, that 10 percent will look to the Conservative leader, as she gurns her way across the country on a rave to Brexit.
It’s likely those 6,000 or so votes will be more than enough to eat up any newfound Labour support, a second campaign surge from the Green Theo Simon or anything the Lib Dems can muster post-post Heath. If the voter turnout is higher and left leaning, the three parties will share them and essentially make them useless in terms of beating the Conservatives.
Divided and Conquered
In Somerton and Frome we have one right wing party verses three left wing parties.
Considering all of the badly photoshopped, government conspiracy theories running around on left wing social media spheres, it seems ironic that they decided to divide themselves up and be conquered? Perhaps this is the work of an anti-corbyn Billionaire out to poison your Quinoa and force your children to eat actual cow’s milk.
Whatever the reason for the lefty’s not cooperating, it’s difficult to see why there are so many left leaning parties running in this constituency if they actually want a left wing government at number 10, especially when you consider the First Past the Post system we have in the UK.
To get Warburton out they would need to club together and get behind the Lib Dems or, in a parallel universe where ego means less than winning, under some liberal banner. A movement of some sorts.
It would need a solid candidate, with the power of Labour’s new found socialism plus the area’s always growing Green movement, as well as the Lid Dem base deciding to come out of hiding. Like when Jon Snow in Game of Thrones took the wildlings and some small northern houses and killed Lord Bolton in the Battle of the Bastards. It would be just like that. Appropriate as well, in a region of England where everyone is fucking their cousins.
Saying all that, in 2015, every left leaning vote put together was still 10,000 odd less than Warburton, who at the time was riding on a ‘ he’s liberal for a Tory mantra,’ while on a national level the calls for a Brexit referendum and kicking anyone not called Smith or Brown out of the country were loud.
For Somerton and Frome to swing left the parties need to cooperate and the atmosphere needs to be right on a national level.
When the Conservatives won Somerton and Frome in 1992 as the only party on the right. The other four contesting parties were left leaning, not hugely different to today. Any bookie would take those odds.
It was the same when the Liberal Democrats won the seat for the first time in 1997. It was essentially only David Heath representing the left, with Labour firmly in the centre right with Mr Blair at the time.
Again, in 2001, David Heath won for the Lib Dems against one Tory, a Blair vote and a woman called Jean Pollock who got 354 votes for the Liberals. Low and behold in 2005 and 2010 the same scenario played out. The Lid Dems took the Somerton and Frome medal both years. On both occasions the left and right parties were evenly matched at two each. By 2010 Mr Heath had built up such a strong reputation after three terms in power that that rare local personality factor pulled him through. Nick Clegg was smashing it on a national level also, so the sentiment was there.
National Sentiment Today.
Jeremy Corbyn has done an awful lot to counter the claims that immigration is the root of all evil. Unlike Wallace and Gromit’s love child from the last botched Labour election, Jezza has actually been able to communicate his ideas without using a huge gravestone.
He says that Britain can raise corporation tax to pay for social infrastructure. That the richer can probably pay a little more to keep our national health service, police forces and schools running. That maybe not every student should be fucked by debt by the time they move back in with their parents. All solid points, but it won’t be enough to win Somerton and Frome.
Labour Are a Joke Here
Labour almost got to 10,000 votes once, in 2001 when Blairmania was pulling the nation’s pants down. Since then they’ve struggled to hit 5,000, and it takes an absolute minimum of 22,000 to win this seat. Actually a little more.
Last time out they polled below the Greens. The time before that, in 2010, their candidate David Oakensen didn’t even hit the 3,000 mark. To put that into perspective, David Warburton received 31,960 votes in 2015. For both elections the turnout was around 60,000.
Vote with Your Heart
The tactical vote is pointless in Somerton and Frome, so vote with your heart and not your head. And if those same ideas you’re voting for actually mean something to you the day after the election then go out and do something about it.
Back in 2015, 3.8 million people voted for UKIP but because of our electoral system they only got one seat. However, the government was unable to ignore 12.7 percent of British voters. The Brexit referendum was fueled hugely by UKIP Voters, no question. Big numbers count.
This all goes back to what David Heath, unquestionably this constituency’s most popular and important politician in recent years, said when I asked him about voting.
“If you believe in something strongly, and it is the right idea, then the chances are many others will also believe it. So in that respect voting and campaigning is extremely important,” he said.
The man who just became president in France, after all, ran without a political party, backed instead by a movement. So did one of his main competitors from the left. Change takes time, and changing your ideas, at least here, won’t do much to help.