Numbers game

June 18, 2005
Class in the election
The 2005 election points to a return to the class/regional basis of British politics, obscured by New Labour's 1997 and 2001 triumphs. London and the southeast are by far the richest of Britain's regions. In London, Labour's 2001 vote share of 47.3 per cent fell to 38.9 (exacerbated by Muslim and leftist Lib Dem defectors)—a drop of 17.8 per cent. A similar proportionate drop was seen in the southeast. The next richest group of regions comprises the eastern region, the east Midlands and Scotland. Here the proportionate drop in Labour's share was 14.1 per cent. The northwest, the southwest and the west Midlands have income per head just over 10 per cent less than average, and the fall was 12.4 per cent. Finally, in the poorest group—Yorkshire, Wales and the northeast—Labour lost only 11 per cent of its 2001 share of the vote.

Race in the east end
Race is also back, at least in east London. Not only did Respect take Bethnal Green, it also won about 20 per cent of the vote in three other east end seats: East Ham, West Ham, and Poplar and Canning Town. And although nationally the BNP only did slightly better than in the 2001 election—a 0.5 per cent increase—in Barking it polled 16.9 per cent of the vote, and in Dagenham close to 10 per cent.

The Liberal Democrats
Labour lost 47 seats on 5th May—about half due to the Lib Dems. A third were lost to parties other than the Tories (12 going direct to the Lib Dems). Of the two thirds lost to the Tories, about half fell thanks to the Lib Dem vote. The prospect of a hung parliament after the next election is now higher than at any time since the 1920s.