The activists and members of three political parties were yesterday and today and for some time to come are feeling bruised at the (for them) disappointing the results of the election held under the First Past the Post electoral system.
These being the the Lib-Dems, the Greens and UKIP.
These are three very different political parties but all to a great extent either have suffered or could in future suffer in the same way for the same reasons.
All can be described as “protest parties”. This means that each of the three parties have a CORE vote of those who have fully bought into the party’s political philosophy and a FLOATING vote who come to it based upon the politics at the time of an election.
The reason why the Lib-Dems were punished for the “sins of the coalition” and the Tories were not is in fact very very simple: each party had a separate supporter/voter base. Traditional Tory voters and those who were amenable to voting Tory took a less critical view of the coalition’s record that the more left wing traditional Lib-Dem voters. Furthermore, the Lib-Dems became a party of government and ceased being a protest party.
The Greens have a CORE vote of fully paid up eco-geeks but also picked up votes from disaffected Lib-Dems and labour supporters.
UKIP have a CORE vote of “hard core” members of the Euro-Realist awkward squad (of which your Editor is one) but picks up votes from disaffected voters from the two major parties who are unhappy with the EU and immigration.
Many “Kippers” (as Beadle Boris of Uxbridge calls us) voted Tory in this election (your Editor was NOT among them) due to the promulgation of the many warnings from numerous parts of the media and the blogosphere (including this organ) about the danger to the UK’s economy and political system posed by Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond.
So the question many supporters of these three parties will ask is this: “How do our parties make progress under the First Past the Post system?”
Basically there are two strategies:
The first is to transform the particular party from a political party to a political organisation that does not field candidates. This would free it from most of the restrictions and burdens of the law regulation political parties. This however presents two great problems for both the Greens and UKIP for there are already several such organisations. Friends of the Earth are one insofar as the Greens are concerned and the Campaign for an Independent Britain is one of several Euro-Realist pressure groups. This UKIP would merely become another. Having so transformed the party the members would them join one of the two main parties and promote their views internally.
The effect on the Tories would be to catapult the Tories back to the internal strife of the 1990s and the consequent electoral consequences.
There is however a second strategy.
This is to select a limited number of target constituencies of a particular type and to state that the party is only going to run candidates in these seats and no others. For UKIP these would logically be fishing (or should we say former fishing) constituencies. Grimsby in Lincolnshire is one.
The reason for limiting the party to a specific number and type of constituency is to try and contrive what could be called an artificial electoral region. This is because if one can concentrate the support for the party in one area FPP helps. It also means that the argument, “Vote UKIP get Labour/Tory” argument falls.
Concentrating the party’s campaigning efforts on a very limited number of constituencies – whilst having its membership drawn from across the UK – would enable the party to concentrate resources. It would be able to put the same amount of resources per constituency as the major parties.
It would encourage tactical voting by those other than the party’s core voters as they would realise that it would be an effective way to not get a Tory/Labour candidate elected.