Last night we made Green history in Greenwich & Woolwich by keeping our deposit for the first time ever as well as beating the Lib Dems.
Our candidate Abbey Akinoshun nearly trebled our vote from 2010, taking 6.4 percent of the vote with a swing of 3.8 percent. That was a greater swing than to Labour (3 percent) and the Tories (2.1 percent) and testament to the hard work of Abbey and everyone who campaigned for him.
We also trebled our vote in Eltham and Erith & Thamesmead, where we achieved 3 percent and 2.2 percent of the vote respectively. The Eltham result came despite the fact that our candidate was wrongly quoted during the afternoon of polling day by an unscrupulous national newspaper reporter as urging a vote for the Labour Party.
In the Greenwich West by-election, we came an honourable third, with 17 percent of the vote, having also dictated the agenda of the campaign, with the winning Labour candidate adopting our policy on fossil fuels divestment midway through the campaign.
Last night Labour canvassers said they had been stunned by how much work we did in the ward. They would have been even more stunned if they knew we are one of the smallest Green Party branches in London.
It’s unlikely anyone is in much of a mood to celebrate today. For most of last night, it looked as if we would double our representation in Parliament. Even though we did spectacularly well to come second in four constituencies and third in many more, we ended the night with only Caroline Lucas representing us in the House of Commons once more.
We now need to turn that disappointment into action. Last night we got 1.1 million votes and ended up with one seat. The SNP got 1.5 million votes and got 56 seats, while in Northern Ireland the DUP got eight seats with 200,000 votes. It’s clear that British democracy is broken.
Many people understand that – including Ukip voters, who got 1 seat for 3.8 million votes. Some people are saying that last fact is a good reason to keep First Past The Post – but that’s a profoundly anti-democratic argument: you don’t combat bad ideas by repressing them. It’s why the party nationally is calling for #FairVotesNow.