Published On: Sun, Apr 14th, 2019

Newport West and the EU elections; Part Three: another charlatan claims to represent the people

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Since the start of the 2015-17 Westminster parliament, there have been thirteen by-elections in the UK. Five of these have had turnouts of less than 40%. Please note, then, that just because a parliamentary constituency election does not happen on a General Election day, it doesn’t automatically produce a poor turnout. Moreover, one of these poor showings was actually the freak occurrence that was the Batley by-election, when a Labour candidate was selected just because the British Government asserted that Jo Cox had been killed in a terrorist attack. The author’s views upon that travesty were aired in an FBEL article about another one of these low turnout by-elections: Reflections on a by-election: another charlatan claims to represent the people, this time of Lewisham East (link). The reader of that article will see that the MP elected at Lewisham East in a 2018 by-election is branded a charlatan because of how a tiny proportion of the constituency electorate voted for her. The recent by-election at Newport West was another one of these mere five occasions out of thirteen when turnout was less than 40%, and like Lewisham East, produced a farce in terms of any claim that could be made about the election of a legitimate representative. Indeed, given that only 9308 people voted for Labour’s Ruth Jones, out of a possible 63,623 registered electors, the term “farce” starts to become an understatement. Another, of the sub-40% elections was Stoke on Trent Central, which occurred a few months prior to the General Election of 2017, and while it may well have been representative of a consistent general disinterest (the by-election, of 2017 saw turnout fall from 49.9% in 2015 to 38.2% – recovering only to 57% in the General Election), alternatively the result could have been what we might only now be able to recognise as a precursor to a more sustained Brexit protest. Earlier even than Stoke was the Sleaford and North Hykeham 2016 by-election, which saw turnout fall to 37.1% from a very high figure (70.2%) in 2015. What is interesting about Sleaford, in terms of now understanding it as a Brexit protest election, is that it occurred at a time when Government had been prevaricating regarding the activation of Article 50 (which the public has falsely been led to believe is necessary process for Britain to leave the EU).

At 37.1%, the 2019 turnout at Newport West was “unquestionably poor” said Cardiff University’s Prof Roger Awan-Scully – and the reader is referred to the previous article in this series to find a fuller quote. The sub-40% figure means that turnout crashed by 30.4% on the figure for the 2017 General Election, or the Day of the Dumb, as it has been coined at FBEL. Of course, while 2017 saw turnout in Newport West at a 20 year high – as one half of the Dumb (and this didn’t just apply to the constituency of our focus) were terrified by threats of what Labour would do to scupper Brexit, and the other half had an involuntary reaction to the prospect of a Tory government – a turnout percentage in the 60s at Newport had not been unusual at other recent, previous elections (2015 and 2010). This is why the figure that emerged out of Newport on 4th April, 2019 was so significant. Not only is it completely without precedent, but there has been no falling off in interest in elections leading to it.

While UKIP did marginally better in 2019 than might have been extrapolated from previous form (and we know this to be the case by taking the party’s percentage share of the vote in the 2017 election and applying it to the turnout figure for the 2019 by-election), it was a drop in the ocean. The numbers switching between the parties from one election to another (Labour and Tory lost support, the Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru, as well as UKIP, were the parties where it was mostly gained) were absolute peanuts compared to the figure for the drop in turnout. Almost 20,000 people who voted in 2017 didn’t vote in 2019. Only 23,615 people voted in the Newport West by-election. This is the same kind of figure that, in the past, would vote for Labour on its own. This is why Newport West cannot be said to be a Brexit protest election in terms of how people voted. It was a Brexit protest election because of how many people didn’t vote. And to get things in perfect perspective, and to understand how bad the turnout at Newport West really was, we will have a look at that history of the seat.

The first election after the constituency was created (Newport was split up, it appears) was in 1983, and it returned a Conservative candidate by a tiny margin – less than 600 votes. The turnout on that day was 77.5%. The electorate of 54,125 people was about 10,000 less than it is these days – and perhaps needless to say, because Lewisham East already taught us the way of things, this voter number growth has coincided with the Tories never winning the seat again.

Results in the 1987 (turnout 81.8%), 1992 (82.8%), and 1997 (74.6%) show the seat moving from a close-run thing to being Labour dominated. Of course, 1997 was a year of ignominy for the British public almost as great as 2017, when it fell for one of the greatest confidence tricks ever played upon it [again, P W Laurie has great pleasure in pointing out that he wasn’t taken in]. The concerted effort by British Government to replace the fractious Tories (from whence resistance to the European project might still arise) with a newly fabricated version of Labour that mimicked what Britons had previously been voting for, and for such a long time, has been discussed before at FBEL – in the Lewisham East article to be precise. In Newport West, on that night in 1997, when 100-plus years of Victorian aristocratic/Masonic effort to kill off the middle class manifested in the form of Blair being elected to national office, an astonishing 12,000 more people voted Labour than they did Tory.

The two elections that returned further Labour Executive branches saw lower turnout figures in Newport West, each time, at 59% – and at FBEL this slightly stifled number is thought to be representative of the hopelessness that a good deal of the country felt regarding the overt Marxist cultural revolution implemented by Labour (previous to which it had been covert), and a good deal of resignation that it would remain unopposed. In 2010, the Newport West turnout figure recovered to 64.8%, and the Tories were only three and a half thousand votes behind Labour – but then there was new motivation. Tory voters everywhere were reacting to the new UKIP threat, and of course, Labour voters would undoubtedly be reacting to the Tory renovation – it is perhaps true to say that this is the dynamic that has been driving general voter behaviour until very recently. 2015 at Newport West saw turnout, as well as the votes for and the margin between the Tories and Labour, remain virtually unchanged. The big difference was that UKIP had moved into third place overtaking the Lib Dems. Curiously, in 2017, with the turnout increasing to its 20-year high figure of 67.5%, there was a sudden jump in the margin that kept the Tories at a distance from Labour, and there was also a sudden jump of a similar size in the electorate.

A seasoned event-sceptic cannot look at the 2017 result and wonder if there had been some cheating to ensure the Labour hold. This was the Day of the Dumb, the election that was designed to reconstitute the LibLabCon, and a certain demographic were being driven into voting Tory in order to “protect Brexit”. In Newport West, more people voted Tory than they had since 1987 (granted, the percentage points were very different). However, if you are planning a parliament to perform a particular job – which, as we can see now, meant giving the Executive branch enough power to fudge Brexit – then it would be harmful to let anything whatsoever go. All it would have needed, in 2017, to make circumstances favourable for a British Government plotting to bring about Fake Brexit was one or two critical seats changing from Tory to Labour. Newport West, then, perhaps was shored-up against the risk of going the other way.

After Thanet South (and now that Farage has outed himself as controlled opposition by leading encouragement of engagement in the upcoming EU elections, we can understand why he never complained about the way he was obviously cheated out of the seat), there is every good reason to suspect Government of behaving in the way described above. Of course, the lesson that one must take away from such an observation is that when one submits to the Government’s system, and engages in voting, then it facilitates the abuse – or allows for the potential. The author used to say that the one way to ensure that ballots cannot be rigged was to vote in large numbers. That was wrong. There must be no participation whatsoever. Only in this way is there a guarantee that Government cannot cheat.

And also, when there is widespread refusal to participate, there will be even more deplorable situations than we saw at Newport West, where a candidate was elected in an exercise which saw a minority of the electorate take part, and then by only 9000 people. Already, Ruth Jones is clearly illegitimate. Imagine a parliament full of MPs each elected by perhaps as few as two or three thousand people. Imagine an entire parliament elected by less than 2 million people. What authority will it have then when sovereignty so very clearly has not been leant to it by the people? Recognition of zero authority would be the start, with individuals at a local level acting and organising together to defend their communities from the college of illegitimate pretenders at Westminster.

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