Could NO2EU reach the pinnacle of pathetic political performance?

UK duo Jemini received no votes in the 2003 Eurovisiion song contestTwo weeks ago NO2EU candidates managed to win the support, as we reported, of 0.2% of voters in the European elections, or 0.3% of those constituencies in which it stood. Sadly, this was not good, even by the scant standards of the British far left, which Dr Burton-Cartledge informed us are expected to be in the range of 1 to 2%.

NO2EU is clearly now in a lower league from such very minor parties as the English Democrats (0.8%), An Independence from Europe (1.4%), the Animal Welfare Party (1.0% in London), or Yorkshire First (1.5% in Yorkshire & the Humber).

To find closer comparitors for NO2EU, you need to look at independents like Lieutenant Commander William George Boaks (known as Bill), veteran of over 40 parliamentary elections, normally described in the maximum of six words permitted at the time, as Public Safety Democratic Monarchist White Resident“. In spite of the last  two words, there’s not much evidence of racism though he would have fitted pretty well into the modern UKIP. He didn’t see the need to fight the Croydon North West by-election in 1981 because the “Communist menace” was never a threat in Croydon, apparently (he’d obviously not met Steve Reed). But he did get what NO2EU might regard as a  240 votes (0.44%) in Wimbledon at the February 1974 general election.

He did take road safety very seriously. In the 1950s he launched several private prosecutions against public figures involved in road accidents, frequently including Violet Atlee (née Millar), wife of Clement. She was a notoriously bad driver, but the British state didn’t provide a limo for ex-PMs in the 1950s and Boaks would try to get her prosecuted whenever she crashed. Sadly, Boaks himself died of head injuries sustained in a minor road accident while getting off a bus. 

Boaks had intended to stand against Clem Atlee in 1951, but sadly got the wrong Walthamstow by mistake (Boaks got 174 votes – 0.43% in East, Atlee stood in West). He very frequently got more than NO2EU’s recent performance, but it should be a lesson to NO2EU that he did manage only 5 votes (0.0248%) in the Glasgow Hillhead by-election, when Glaswegians were somehow temporarily attracted by the charms of Roy Jenkins (until he was out-charmed by George Galloway, who is of course a league or two above NO2EU).

Still, people have done worse than Bill Boaks’s worst. A self-described political party managed to get a lower proportion of the vote albeit with the same 5 votes in the Kensington by-election in 1988. Kailash Trivedi standing for the Independent Janata Party won 5 hard-fought votes (0.021%). An even lower vote was secured by Catherine Taylor-Dawson standing for parliament in Cardiff North in 2005 on the somewhat nightmarish Rainbow Dream Ticket.

But NO2EU may of course be heading for the ultimate benchmark, which Andrew Coates suggests is held by the CCA (Comités communistes pour l’autogestion) who got zero votes in the 1981 legislative elections in the 18th arrondissement of Paris. There are, however, similar instances closer to home.

A certain, Frederic Richard Lees, temperance advocate and Chartist, appears to have received no votes at all in the Ripon by-election of 1860. However, I’m not sure this is a fair precedent to offer NO2EU. This was before the Ballot Act of 1872 which introduced ballot papers and the secreta ballot and people put it about that he had withdrawn from the vote.


Left Futures research, however, indicates that the lowest vote recorded in recent election British politics was, in fact, a tribute to the efforts of one of our best known political parties. The Conservative Party. In a district council election in 2007 in the New Trimdon and Trimdon Grange ward of Sedgefield District Council in which Tony Blair lived (well, owned a house would be more accurate).

Shirley Bowes, who didn’t live in the ward and so couldn’t vote for herself, received none of the 516 votes cast. She admitted she didn’t do any campaigning – but then I don’t suppose Tony Blair did any either. As reported by the BBC, she said: “I’m not surprised I didn’t get any votes because it’s red-hot Labour round here.” When told about the lack of votes for his candidate, Tory leader, David Cameron, said: “Politics is a tough game.”

On just this matter, NO2EU would do well to heed Mr Cameron’s advice, and get off the pitch.

Image credit: UK duo Jemini who won ‘nul points’ at Eurovision 2003, picture from a still by the BBC

  1. The Christian Peoples Alliance actually had several councillors in Newham in East London about ten years ago.

    • The Christian Peoples Alliance actually had councillors in Newham until 2010, and on Aston-cum-Aughton parish council (in Rotherham) until 2009.

  2. I think what the constantly low level of votes ‘left alternatives’ to Labour get at elections is something that those who are part of the attempts rarely try to properly analyse. Yes, first past the post is a problem for small parties, although this should not necessarily be a critical factor at local council election level. The lack of name recognition is a factor (both NO2EU and Tusc I suspect register as joke names to most people), while the lack of wider industrial and social struggle (like that in Greece) is again a key factor.

    But ultimately for all the rottenness of the right-wing policies Labour constantly adopts there remain reserves of natural affiliation to the Party from large swaths of working class voters. So what you are then left with are ‘socialist alternative’ candidates that are little more in practice than very ineffective propagandists in the tradition of the purist SPGB sect whose strategy ultimately amounts to the continual failure of thinking that if you tell people about socialism (and wave a few ‘little red flags’ as Lenin put it) the masses will flock to your banner.

    And the exceptions to continual electoral destruction always appear to be those with a previous Labour Party connection and therefore a previous base that they have been able to continue to use for a time. For example, someone like Michael Lavalette was elected a number of times in Preston first as a Socialist Alliance candidate, then Respect and then Tusc (and in recent years has been a member of the SWP). But he began as a Labour councillor and his continued success was built from that (and the fact he was experienced at representing constituents) more than the politics of the organisations he represented as other candidates from those organisations did very badly locally, and it is notable that as he ‘retired’ and did not stand last month he was replaced once again by a Labour councillor.

    But often a previous Labour Party base can be quickly wasted. Look at the continual failure of ex-Militant candidates, including many former councillors in Liverpool since their expulsions, and where the number of activists working under the Tusc banner was far less than the ’empty’ and ‘dead’ Labour Party they left behind.

    There’s a lesson there – but I doubt many will learn it.