UK Parliament re-elects 4 vegans, loses 2 campaigners

Polling Station

Update Feb 15: One of the new MPs, Nadia Whittome, is also vegan.

Update Dec 14: The UK parliament is back down to four [known] vegan MPs – Chris Williamson was sacked by Labour, stood as an independent socialist, and lost his deposit. Two other animal advocate MPs were also lost.

These are in likely order of declaration, so you could follow along on election night.

Their chances of winning were based on the YouGov regression model, with declaration times based on AP & HuffPost expectations in 2017.

Not standing again

Amber Rudd (pro-hunt)

Amber Rudd was one of Animal Aids ten marginal MPs to ditch for pro-hunt views in 2015; she’s been thrown out of the Conservative party after trying to stop a car-crash Brexit, and decided not to stand as an independent.

Kate Hoey (pro-hunt)

She chose not to stand again (she was 73). Rather than vote for the party she’s served as an MP, she moved to her native Northern Ireland to vote for a pro-UK unionist (see Naomi Long, below).

Jim Fitzpatrick (vegetarian former farming minister)

He chose not to stand again (at 67). Like Kate Hoey, he had friction with his local Labour party over his support for Brexit.

2am: Can Naomi Long return this time?

Belfast East – Almost but not quite

Naomi Long is a candidate for the cross-community Alliance Party, and was the MP from 2010 to 2015. Animal Aid praised her as an MP to keep – and she’s trying to gain the seat from the “Democratic Unionist Party” (for whom the defining issue is Northern Ireland’s membership of the United Kingdom – they supported May’s government, but were betrayed by Johnson when he agreed an EU/GB trade border in the Irish sea).

Both nationalist (pro-United Ireland) parties have stepped down in her favour, because they agree with her anti-Brexit stance (even though she doesn’t agree with them about a united Ireland). But those votes are nowhere near enough to swing the seat.

The only question is whether pro-EU pro-UK unionist voters will break with the pro-UK pro-Brexit DUP and lend her (pro-EU UK-neutral) their votes.

Naomi Long came close, reducing the DUP majority to 1,819, with a 15.5% swing.

3am: Can vegan MP Darren Jones stay?

Bristol North West – Yes

Darren Jones won this seat in a surprise victory in 2017, becoming the UK’s fifth ever vegan MP. YouGov rate him as “likely” to keep it.

Very little change here; Lab lost a couple of percent, but Con lost more, increasing Darren’s majority.

Neath

The incumbent is vegan Christina Rees (Lab), and she’s likely to keep it – but if the Labour “red wall” collapses, then she could be in trouble.

The “red wall” of working class Wales/midland/Northern Labour seats collapsed, and Christina suffered a 17.7% swing to the Conservatives. But that’s not half enough to lose her the seat.

Crawley & Southend West

These are a couple of Tories whose work for animals gained Animal Aid’s respect in 2015.

Crawley will likely again return Henry Smith, a vegetarian who turns up to VegFestUK to represent the Conservatives and is involved in animal causes in parliament, especially as the seat is more Brexity than average.

And Southend West is definitely going to return anti-hunt anti-cull David Amess. 

No surprises here.

3:30am: Longshot Vegan Conservative

Westminster North

Jamie McCarlane is a 31-year old vegan Tory. Westminster North used to be a marginal, but with politics re-aligning along the Brexit atlas YouGov now rates it “Safe Labour”.

The way the Conservative party works, it wouldn’t be a surprise if we see him in a future election in a different seat.

The Conservative surge was not to be seen in London. He lost by a country mile.

4am: Advocates under threat

Stroud – lost

David Drew (Lab) proposed many pro-animal “Early Day Motions” (parliamentary petitions) as an MP, including one on vegetarian and vegan labelling. He lost his marginal west country seat in 2015 and won it back in 2017, but this time YouGov rates it as “leans Conservative”.

The well-regarded Green MEP Molly Scott Cato is standing here, and may complicate matters by splitting the vote. She was the member of the European Parliament’s agricultural committee to loudly back letting vegetarian products from being labelled “burgers”.

The strongest swing in the seat was 10.4% – from Labour to Green. The Conservative took the seat with only a small increase in votes, with a majority (3,840) that was comfortably smaller than the Green vote (4,954).

Wirral South – stays

Alison McGovern (Lab) was another animal advocate that Animal Aid cheered on in 2015. She’s under threat from the Conservatives – YouGov now only say her seat “leans” Labour.

Alison was down 6.1%, but still has a reasonable majority (6,105)

Gloucester

Fran Boait (Lab) has an uphill struggle to take this marginal seat from the Conservatives. She’s vegetarian going on vegan.

With an 8.9% swing to the Conservatives, it’s obviously not marginal any more.

4am-7am: How will the Animal Welfare Party do?

The vegan-led Animal Welfare Party is standing in six seats it believes to be safe to publicise their pro-animal agenda without splitting the votes for parties that might win. But they’ve been caught out by changing voting intentions in one constituency, which is no longer a foregone conclusion.

Historically, if they get above 1%, they’re doing well; and if they’re getting the 5% needed to save their deposits, they are exceeding their wildest expectations.

The usually stand a better chance under proportionate elections, such as to the European Parliament and the London Assembly. They stood in the London constituency in the 2019 European elections, and got 1.19% – several times too few for an MEP, but beating the much better-known Women’s Equality Party (1.06%). But if Brexit happens, they won’t get to repeat that for the foreseeable future.

They are standing in:

  • Bethnal Green and Bow (expected 04:00, candidate Vanessa Hudson*, the party leader) (439, 0.7%)
  • Chelsea and Fulham (expected 04:00, candidate Sam Morland – but the LibDems now have a chance here, so expect Morland to be squeezed) (500, 1.1%, and the Conservative got almost twice as many votes as the LibDem, so no squeezing at all)
  • Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner (expected 04:00, candidate Fahima Amin*) (325, 0.6%)
  • Kingswood (expected 05:00, candidate Angelika Cowell*)
  • New Forest East (expected 05:00, candidate Prof Andrew Knight*, as featured in our vegan cats shows(489, 1.0%)
  • Congleton (expected 07:00, candidate Jane Smith*) (658, 1.1%)

(* vegan candidate)

These are unusually good results for the Animal Welfare Party.

4:30am: Can Stephen Lloyd survive Brexit?

Eastbourne – loss

Stephen Lloyd was one of three animal advocate LibDem MPs who were wiped out in 2015, but the only one to try, and succeed in, regaining his seat in 2017.

He’d promised his mostly pro-Brexit constituents he’d support Brexit in parliament. This resulted in an amicable separation from the LibDems when they hardened their anti-Brexit stance, but he’s now back as a LibDem candidate, promising to vote against Brexit, and facing an uphill struggle to keep his seat. YouGov rate him as “likely” to lose.

Stephen Lloyd lost his seat by over 4,000 votes, with a 10.7% swing to the Conservatives

5:00am: Vegan versus Vegan

Bristol West – no change

In 2017, I joked about settling this seat with a vegan bake-off. That’s beginning to look like an option.

Thangam Debbonaire (Lab, incumbent) is now vegan, but she’s facing a challenge – from someone who has been vegan for ten years. Green challenger Carla Denyer is standing as part of the “Remain Alliance”, meaning that the LibDems have stood down in her favour. (Even though Thangam Debbonaire is also very pro-EU; obviously, the Greens wanted a clear run at one of their targets.)

It doesn’t look like the Greens have much of a chance, but this is a very unpredictable election.

The 2017 Green candidate was Molly Scott Cato (see Stroud).

Carla came second with almost a quarter of the vote, the second highest Green share in the country. But it’s still half of Thangam’s votes. 

Bristol East – no change

Kerry McCarthy is the longest standing vegan MP, first elected in 2005. She is safe.

She lost votes in line with the national swing, but is still very safe.

Faversham & Mid Kent

Hannah Perkins is a vegan caterer standing for the LibDems. This is an ultra-safe conservative seat, which means it’ll attract zero media attention, so you won’t even be able to wave to her in the background of a regional TV shot.

She comfortably kept her deposit.

6:00am: The Fall of Chris Williamson

Derby North

Chris Williamson was one of the vegan MPs I interviewed back in 2011. He lost his seat in 2015, but won it back in 2017, becoming a more-Corbynista-than-Corbyn supporter of the left-wing party leadership.

And this is where it went wrong. As the scandal of anti-semitism within the Labour party rolled forward, he mounted a partisan defence of those accused, viewing it all through the prism of his opposition to Israel. Making him a canonical example of the racism problem he was refusing to see.

Suspended from Labour as an MP and barred from standing as their candidate, he is standing as an “independent pro-Corbyn socialist”. It’s impossibly to see how he’ll win; indeed, this probably makes a Conservative victory in the seat certain.

Watch his concession speech for the final act of his tragedy.

Labour was down 8.7%, mostly down to the regional swing, enabling the Conservatives to take the seat. Chris Williamson won 635 votes, fewer than the Animal Welfare Party got in their best seat.

Brighton Pavilion

Caroline Lucas (Green) remains the UK’s first and only Green MP, still not vegetarian, and her seat is now very safe.

She increased her overwhelming vote share.

7:00am: Parliament’s only ex-vegan?

Morley and Outwood

Conservative, animal advocate, and hardline Brexiter Andrea Jenkins tells me she was vegan for five years, and is now vegetarian. She’s anti-hunt, as you’d expect. She’s probably going to be re-elected.

She did, with a 17.7% swing, typical for the “red wall” regions.

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About Ian McD

I'm a British new media person with a passion for radio, and interested in the kind of stories best told when we see humans as part of the world of animal minds. I blogged about why I'm producing The Vegan Option.

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