Now we have had time to analyse the 4 May election results, we can see that there is support for Greens across Oxfordshire.
The Green Party got 12.6% of the vote, higher than Labour and turned that in to 15 wins out of 50 candidates (30%). By concentrating the efforts of our small party on a few places, 68% of Green Party votes went on electing Green Party councillors this year.
Read on to compare that with other parties.
There were elections in 2023 in 4 district councils within Oxfordshire. 324 candidates stood for 107 seats in 78 wards. Cherwell (North Oxfordshire) and West Oxfordshire district councils elected 1/3rd of their councillors. South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse elected all their councillors at once. They have elections every 4 years.
As you see from the graph on the left, the Conservatives lost heavily to the Liberal Democrats, Greens and Labour. The Green Party came second in the number of councillors elected in 2023, with more than Labour. We are a significant force in Oxfordshire, not "a minor party".
Although we managed to find and nominate 50 candidates (15% of all candidates) they stood in 60% of the wards and received 12.6% of the votes cast. Despite the Conservatives having most candidates their vote share was less, unlike the Liberal Democrats.
But in the majority voting system in English local elections, having more votes doesn't always get more candidates elected. It depends on the rank of each candidate in each ward.
Take a look at the fractions of candidates elected. The Conservatives did badly, only 9% were elected. The Green Party got 30% of its candidates elected.
How did we manage that? There is a clue in the fraction of Green votes that were used to elect Green councillors: 68%. We are a small party, with far fewer members than Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. So we concentrated our campaigning on 15 wards. Voters responded by electing 15 Green councillors in 13 wards. We came just below the winners in the other two wards we had hoped to win.
Lets take a look at each district.
Since 2019 the Green Party has been administering South Oxfordshire with the Liberal Democrats. We had 5 councillors going in to this election. They were all re-elected together with 3 more new councillors, making 8 in total. There is only one Conservative councillor left of a party that had a majority before 2019. The Liberal Democrats now have enough councillors to rule on their own. But they have proposed continuing the joint administration with the Greens.
In South Oxfordshire we stood 12 candidates in half the wards (13% of the candidates) but got 16% of the total vote. Contrast the Conservatives who stood everywhere but lost votes. Residents now have Green councillors in 7 wards, adding Chinnor to the list and both Woodcote and Rotherfield councillors are Green. We did not succeed in winning Didcot West, where we came third behind 2 elected councillors, 53 votes behind the 2nd.
Like the Liberal Democrats, most of our candidates were elected (2/3rds). By concentrating our campaigning in 11 wards stretching across rural South Oxfordshire, 83% of Green votes went on elected Green councillors. Volunteers came out to campaign from Chinnor to Wallingford, Sandford to Woodcote and Berinsfield to Kidmore End.
Vale of White Horse
In the Vale, the result was a knock out. All the Conservatives lost, leaving just Liberal Democrat and Green Councillors. 3 new Green councillors joined Cheryl Briggs on the Vale district council, from the southern and western extremes of the district, Hendreds and Watchfield & Shrivenham. The Green Party is now the official (and only) opposition.
More Green candidates stood than in 2019, 15 in 13 wards. We didn't find enough members willing to stand as "paper" candidates in the remaining wards. Our vote share was only 11% but it was enough to elect 4 councillors.
In the wipe out, every Liberal Democrat candidate was elected and 27% of Green candidates. Not a single Conservative, Labour, Independent or other party candidate was elected. 62% of Green votes went on our winning councillors, in the places where we have been campaigning for more than a year.
We went in to the 2023 election with 2 Green councillors as part of the opposition to a Conservative controlled council. We re-elected one Green councillor and elected a second, so we now have 3 Green councillors in North Oxfordshire. But the Conservatives lost heavily, to Labour, Liberal Democrats and Greens. As Cherwell elects 1/3rd of its councillors in each election, there are still many Conservative councillors. The council is now made up of 20 Conservatives, 12 Labour, 10 Liberal Democrat, 3 Greens and 3 independents. A majority administration needs 24 or 25 councillors, so a Labour/Lib. Dem./Green administration would have enough votes. But at the time of writing, the Labour leader does not want a Green councillor in the council cabinet, so we may end up with a minority Conservative administration.
11 Green Party candidates stood in 11 out of 16 wards, covering the district. Our vote share was lower (11%), reflecting our lower profile in Cherwell (apart from Kidlington). Unlike in South Oxfordshire and the Vale, Labour has a respectable vote share in Cherwell, almost the same as its share of candidates.
In Cherwell, no party got more than 40% of their candidates elected. There were no overwhelming wins like in the Vale. The Liberal Democrats and Greens concentrated efforts to some extent in winnable wards. 56% of Green votes elected our councillors in Kidlington and Bicester.
Since last year, West Oxfordshire has been administered by an alliance of Liberal Democrats, Labour and Greens with a small majority over the Conservatives. This year more councillors were elected to the alliance than Conservatives, so it will stay in joint control. The Green Party stood in 12 out of 17 wards, but only won one councillor, a second councillor in Witney North.
The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats increased their vote share. The Green vote share was only 9%. Our candidate did campaign over the last 4 months in Kingham, Rollright and Enstone, but came second to the Conservative candidate.
No party got more than half their candidates elected in West Oxfordshire, but the Green Party result was particularly low. Labour and the Liberal Democrats succeeded in concentrating more than half their votes on winning candidates.
What else can we learn from these election results?
Take a look at the average vote for winning and loosing candidates in these elections. Conservatives and independents can win in wards where there are fewer people voting. Others need to get more votes to win. The difference shows the effect of ward-level campaigning and local issues. There was little difference for the Conservatives, other parties won where they had better known candidates, either from local connections (the independents) or a lot of campaigning. The biggest difference was for the Green Party. Winning candidates got on average 918 votes more than loosing candidates. Was the effort too concentrated?
There is more we could learn from analysing these and previous results. If you are interested in data analsis, volunteer to help us better understand the political landscape in Oxfordshire.