Sorry to disappoint all fans of a good adventure but this is not a sequel to ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, or even ‘Temple of Doom’ it is actually a reference to the EDP target of 300+ candidates in the English County elections in May.
Why 300? That is the number required to qualify for a Party Election Broadcast on national TV and Radio. At the risk of over-dosing on metaphors, a PEB seems to be the ‘Holy Grail’ for the Leadership of the EDP.
The party website has a plea for people to come forward to be candidates; there is not even a mention of candidates having to be members of the EDP.
300 is going to be a very hard target for a party with dwindling membership, even allowing for the influx of exBNP members.
The EDP were aiming for a similar figure last year in order to get a PEB, in the end they managed about 90, over 50 of those were in Metropolitan Boroughs which have no County elections this year.
There is not even any evidence that a Party Election Broadcast helps minor parties in elections. Some of you will be old enough to remember that the Referendum Party stood hundreds of candidates, qualified for a PEB and disappeared. Similarly the Natural Law Party stood hundreds of candidates, qualified for a PEB and disappeared.
In fact the EDP has first-hand-evidence that it is not guaranteed to improve political standing.
In the 2005 General Election the EDP stood 24 candidates, without a PEB, and averaged 631 votes per candidate.
In the 2010 General Election the EDP stood 107 candidates, with a PEB, and averaged 605 votes per candidate.
It is a good, if expensive, way of getting the Party Leader’s face on national TV and if that is the aim, then so-be-it!
Back to the 300! One major problem for the EDP is the fact that in some of the 35 ‘counties’ the EDP have never had a presence of any note.
Half of the authorities up for election are in the Yorkshire & Humber, North East, North West, West Midlands and South West Regions (horrid term we know) being generous we could allow, say, 50 candidates.
In the South East the bulk of the candidates will have to come from Kent, Surrey and Sussex are poor areas for the EDP and the Part in Hampshire has all but vanished.
In East of England there may be a few from Essex, though one of their stronger areas, Southend, does not vote for Essex councillors. Norfolk and Suffolk may provide a few as could Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.
In the East Midlands the EDP is going to have to rely on Lincolnshire and Leicestershire to provide anything more than just a handful of candidates.
In 2005 the EDP fielded 9 candidates.
In 2009 the EDP fielded 70 candidates.
In 2013 the EDP will be hard pressed to field the 300 they hope for.