The UK goes to the polls on May 7th to elect a new House of Commons, and staying up to watch the results come on on Friday morning is part of the fun.
The last parliament’s three vegan MPs (listen to me interviewing them in 2011) are all standing again, and they’ve let me know about some potential colleagues. (As a result, this post is dominated by The Labour Party. I’m keen to know about candidates from other parties with a chance of winning, but haven’t found any yet.)
Also, the minor Animal Welfare Party (who have no real expectation of winning a seat but are hoping to build long-term momentum) are standing in four constituencies – more than ever before. They got an unexpected boost when divisive celeb journalist Piers Morgan used his Daily Mail column to declare his support.
Whether you’re at a results party and want to impress your friends by saying “another vegan MP just got elected!” or staying up late at home, here are the results to watch out for. (The times are estimates by the Associated Press, and very variable. A recount can delay the announcement of a close result by several hours. For non-UK readers confused by the whole process, here is The Guardian’s explainer. Times are in BST)
02:00 Putney – the first AWP result
This first Animal Welfare Party result (look at the BBC.co.uk results page for Putney) will give a hint of whether their tactic of standing in safe seats (here Conservative) works. Because “safe seats” don’t change hands, voters have no reason to vote tactically and can afford to use their vote to make a statement. If candidate Guy Dessoy gets more than 1% of the vote, he will be the first AWP candidate to do so in any election.
02:30 Kilmarnock and Loudon – can Cathy Jamieson survive the SNP onslaught?
In a normal year, Scotland’s only ever vegan MP would be safe. It’s not a normal year. The national polls suggest that the pro-independence SNP will sweep almost all the country’s seats. But every constituency is different, and there have been no constituency polls in Kilmarnock and Loudon (results page). Cathy might withstand the trend.
03:00 – Derby North (vegan Lab); Bristol NW (new vegan Lab challenging Con); Holborn & St. Pancras (AWP standing)
Derby North is marginal but, with a national swing favouring the Labour party, is unlikely to change hands. Constituency polling even suggests it’s now a safe Labour seat. So Chris Williamson should return to parliament.
UPDATE 04:24 Results in other seats suggest the constituency polling is wrong; the national swing is against Labour, so I should have classed Chris’ seat as marginal.
Bristol North West (results page) is a bellweather seat – it has returned an MP of the same party as the PM since October 1974. Labour candidate Darren Jones has been giving veganism a try at the same time as trying to win this seat from the Conservatives:
— Darren Jones (@darrenpjones) May 6, 2015
Animal Welfare Party leader Vanessa Hudson is standing in Holborn & St. Pancras (results page). She was the top name for the party’s list for the European elections in London, so anything more than 0.96% will be a victory. This result should also answer the question of whether they tend to do better in safe Labour seats or Conservative ones.
04:00 – Bristol E (safe vegan Lab); Dudley S (vegan-curious Lab challenging Con); Hackney N & Stoke Newington (AWP Standing)
Kerry McCarthy’s tip for the next vegan MP is Natasha Millward, Labour’s candidate in Dudley South:
— Kerry McCarthy (@KerryMP) April 10, 2015
Since its creation in 1997, Dudley South has been another bellweather seat.
For the Animal Welfare Party, Jon Homan in standing in Diane Abbott’s safe Labour seat, Hackney North & Stoke Newington.
04:30 – Kensington – Will the Piers Morgan effect save an AWP deposit?
Prof Andrew Knight featured in the two episodes of The Vegan Option about what vegans should feed cats, but you’re unlikely to hear his voice in the news coverage. His picture might be a bit more familiar with readers of the mid-market pro-conservative tabloid Daily Mail after Piers Morgan promised his vote. How much impact will that have in the wealthy mews of Kensington?
(UK General election candidates have to put down a deposit of £500 – around $750 – which they retain if they poll 5% of the votes.)
If the TV cameras turn to the ultra-safe Conservative seat of Bexhill and Battle, you might wish to salute the vegan on the stage in the red rosette, Michelle Thew. But it’s a seat where the Conservatives usually win over half the vote and her party comes third behind the Liberal Democrats. (For non-UK readers: socially liberal, fiscally middling, the junior partner in the current coalition, and facing a collapse in their vote.)
Then grab a nap, but set your alarm, because the night ends on a nail-biting finish.
07:00 – Milton Keynes South – Will Andrew Pakes be tonight’s last vegan MP?
Milton Keynes South is a marginal constituency that Labour candidate Andrew Pakes is fighting to take from the Conservatives. Chris Williamson mentioned Andrew is vegan. (WW2 code-breaker campus Bletchley Park is in this seat.) Last time round in 2010, constituency boundaries were redrawn and the Conservatives won the seat from Labour with a majority of 9.4%. Pundit Martin Baxter’s website Electoral Calculus gives him a 41% chance of becoming an MP.