The Euro polls have been and gone. What have they taught us about politics? and why do I think things are looking up for Mebyon Kernow? I've given it some thought, read a bit online and spoke to some party members. Here are just a few thoughts to mull over, firstly UK wide, then South West and lastly and most importantly Cornwall.
In general terms, I think UKIP can be happy they did great across the UK and even managed to do well in areas they haven't traditionally done so, Wales and Scotland are the obvious examples but in England they had a great day. The Greens must be ecstatic they knew they had a good chance to make their mark and they did so. The SNP also should be delighted topping the poll in Scotland, an amazing result for a governing party fighting an independence campaign. Plaid Cymru should be happy they didn't get squeezed out by a resurgent Labour and UKIP.
Moving on from the delighted to the unsure. The Conservatives had a good night they thought that they'd do badly and lose votes to UKIP, this no doubt happened, but to be a hairs breadth away from beating Labour over all, was a real shock for everyone. Labour had a mixed night they no doubt bounced back from the low point of 2009 and did make some real gains but still it's easy to see why the results have received a luke warm welcome from the Labour faithful. This is a historic low for a opposition party in a mid term election. With less than a year to the general election, they'd have been happier trouncing UKIP and the Tories, at the expense of votes taken from the Lib Dems.
The worst night was for the BNP losing their MEPs, nothing left to say but well done Britain! The Lib Dem vote collapsed, languishing with only 1 MEP, less than the Greens and the SNP and equal with Plaid Cymru. Ever since the coalition with the Tories and helping get their manifesto passed, the yellows have been like a ship without a rudder. Directionless and of no use to anyone, like a rudderless vessel it will occasionally get swamped by a wave and the storm has yet reached it's full fury....
In terms of the south west, I had a couple of thoughts before the polls. I thought UKIP might grow and gain one more MEP and be on three, but surprisingly they stood still on two. I thought the Tories would lose one or possibly two MEPs but only lost one. I thought Labour would probably gain 2 MEPs and the polls suggested they would, but they only gained 1. I was fairly confident the Greens would gain an MEP but I thought perhaps a third UKIP MEP or a second Labour might squeeze them out. I thought the Lib Dems would lose their MEP but was unsure because there was a slim chance they'd beat the Greens and hold on.
Thankfully we do have a full breakdown of the votes in Cornwall, which is very useful and gives my cause for optimism for Mebyon Kernow next year. UKIP came top with a stonking 36.7%, Conservatives second with 25.6%, Lib Dems third on 12.1%, Greens fourth with 11.1% and Labour fifth on 10.9%. Now for right wingers this is excellent news with well over 50% of the vote the center and left parties did astonishingly badly in comparison with barely a third of the votes.
So as a left winger why should I be optimistic? The answer really is simple the Liberal Democats are sinking to new depths and tens of thousands of their former voters are up for grabs. These voters did not switch in large numbers to either Labour or the Greens, both saw modest gains but nowhere near the numbers needed to challenge for an MP next year and neither (to my suprise) got more votes than the Lib Dems. The UKIP vote at first seems daunting but lots of people vote for them because they feel disenfranchised from the establishment parties. Not because they feel "uneasy" about foreigners or the EU. They want something new in politics, a fresh approach perhaps this could be the Party for Cornwall?
I don't think we're any closer to knowing the result of next years general election. Labour are losing ground to the Tories in the polls, somehow they are making Cameron et al look dynamic with their lackluster and tired approach to opposition. This has partly been reflected in the election results, yes Labour has done well but they haven't taken many votes from either the Tories nor the Lib Dems. In Cornwall the game is on, there is a massive vacuum left by the Liberal Democrats for a left wing radical party that offers something different. If Mebyon Kernow had contested this election perhaps we would have done very well indeed. I'm confident we could easily have done much much better than the 7% in 2009. Like all sensible people I despair at the rise of UKIP in Cornwall but that doesn't mean we need to look to the future with dread far from it, politics has never looked so open and willing to change.