Through gaining over 600 of the 1546 votes cast, Caroline Lucas was far and away the choice of readers of this blog as the MP who had done most for wildlife in 2013. Here are a few lessons that might come out of this poll.
First place: Caroline Lucas, Green Party, 39% of the votes cast
From the first vote that was cast (by me) Caroline Lucas was in the lead in this poll – she was never headed. For a while, in the middle of last week, she had more than 50% of all the votes cast. Maybe this shows that people will vote Green when they think that the Greens have a chance of winning? I imagine it certainly means that ordinary people can recognise a hard-working, knowledgeable and passionate MP when they see one. I’m glad that Caroline won this poll.
Second place: Owen Paterson, Conservative Party, 24% of votes cast
Owen Paterson came a distant second in this poll. Some have criticised me for including him at all. That’s a bit odd, I think. The point of a poll is to see what people think and the number of votes for Mr Paterson shows that he has a lot of supporters out there. I’d rather he had come last (although I am perfectly happy that Nick Clegg actually came last) but I’m very glad that he got trounced – which wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been included in the poll!
There is an interesting lesson to be drawn from Owen Paterson’s strong showing in this poll – get your voters out! From Monday through until Thursday Mr Paterson was in third place and languishing far behind. But then, two things happened: first someone in an NGO forwarded my ‘newsblast’ to lots of their friends which led to a surge of over 100 votes for Mr Paterson in a very short period and a forum on a farming website started drumming up support for the Secretary of State.
All this activity to get Mr Paterson’s supporters to vote, which I admire rather than decry, resulted in the Secretary of State being a distant second in the poll rather than a distant third.
However, on Twitter, Guy Smith (@essexpeasant, NFU Presidential candidate and occasional commenter on this blog) immediately decided that the poll was closing because of the great wave of support that was flooding the poll from Paterson supporters and tweeted ‘Do I get the impression this poll has been closed because people were voting the ‘wrong’ way?‘ to which I replied it was very difficult to know what impression Guy Smith gets or why he gets them. Guy Smith came back with ‘I’ll keep this simple. Has the poll been closed , if so why?‘ to which I replied that it closed at 9pm because I had to write a blog of the results for this morning and I wanted to go to bed!
This morning the paranoia continued with @Connorfield56 posting on Twitter ‘Interestingly the vote shut very quickly as OP started to gain ground. AW one narrative suits ALL!‘ Now I don’t quite understand that second sentence but the first is most peculiar. This poll, as most of you know, ran for a whole week and then, yes, I guess, it stopped suddenly – how would it stop slowly? Try turning a light off (or on) gradually! I do tend to be a bit coy about when polls will finish because I don’t know how well-supported they will be , or how close they would be or how interesting they would be. Having said that, I posted on both Facebook and Twitter that this poll would end on Sunday which is when it did!
The Paterson supporters who feel they had victory snatched from their grasp should do three things: look at the results carefully (OP was miles behind); take it from me, that at their rate of vote-accrual it would have taken weeks for OP to overtake Caroline Lucas even if voting patterns had remained like those of the weekend; realise that if you had mobilised earlier then maybe you might have got closer – you were very slow off the mark which is nobody’s fault but your own.
Let me say again, I admire the farmers on their forum (and whatever other means they used to generate support) and the NGO staff member emailing fellow supporters (although perhaps using your work email address for party political purposes is borderline in acceptability) because they demonstrated that they wanted their candidate, espousing their views, to win. And they did something! And it might have worked had not Caroline Lucas not been so overwhelmingly popular with, it appears, a wide range of ‘ordinary’ people.
Third place: Barry Gardiner, Labour Party, 14% of votes cast
The former Defra Minister was third. There were signs, too, that someone had been rounding up support for Mr Gardiner as he came with quite a late run at the weekend. Perhaps a newsletter or email around party members or constituents? I have no idea but Mr Gardiner did make up a lot of ground in a short period of time.
Fourth Place: Zac Goldsmith, Conservative Party, 12% 0f votes cast
Zac was in second place for the first half of this poll. He was only overtaken by the second and third-placed MPs late in the day. I’m a bit sorry that he didn’t at least beat Owen Paterson as Mr Goldsmith is the type of Tory whom I would find it difficult to vote against. He is doing a great job in being an outspoken and green member of the Conservative Party and I’d have liked him to have been placed second (or even first, I admire him so much!)
Fifth place: ‘none of the above’, 5% of votes cast
I’m glad this candidate didn’t do better, but I’m sorry he (or she) did this well. There really is no point in voting for ‘nobody’ when ‘somebody’ has to win.
Sixth place: Joan Walley, Labour Party, 5% of votes cast
Joan Walley is doing a great, though largely unrecognised, job chairing the EAC.
I’m sure she is too busy to notice or care about the number of votes she received.
I was pleased to be able to give her a bit of profile through this poll.
Seventh place: Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat and Deputy Prime Minister, 3% of votes cast
Just for the record, I tweeted news of this poll to a range of wildlife NGOs, to the NFU and CLA, to Conservative, Labour, LibDem, Green, UKIP and SNP political parties, to Guardian, Telegraph, Daily Mail, Independent newspapers, to a variety of magazines including the Spectator and New Statesman (and Private Eye) and a to a few celebrities. My aim was to make this poll as widely known as possible rather than it be very restricted to the regular readers of this blog.