If you thought that David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg had a bad night then imagine what it must feel like for Robert Griffiths. The best that can be said of his party’s results is that they did not come last in every seat they contested. Not quite.
The party has not done very well in general elections since it was founded in its modern form in 1988, but it was at least improving. It fielded six candidates in both the 2001 and 2005 elections and increased its total number of votes from 1,003 to 1,124. Better still, the banking crisis appeared to suggest that Communism was enjoying a revival to match drainpipe jeans and bum bags. Amazon reported that its sales of Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto had increased sevenfold (albeit probably from a low starting point) and there was even a doubling in sales of the impenetrable Das Kapital. Could the party seize the moment (and, subsequently, the means of production)?
No. The six candidates who stood in the 2010 General Election netted 947 votes between them – almost certainly the worst showing of any non-single-issue party.
Mr Griffiths, standing in Cardiff South & Penarth, got the most votes with 196, although he was still rock bottom behind eight other parties, and got only 0.4 per cent of the vote.
His comrades were:
Marc Livingstone (Glasgow North West) – 179 votes (last out of seven)
Martin Levy (Newcastle East) – 177 votes (last out of six)
Ben Stevenson (Croydon North) – 160 votes (second last out of nine, ahead of Mohamed Seyed, an independent candidate with a profile so low he does not appear to have even set up a website for himself.)
Steven Andrew (Sheffield South East) – 139 votes (last out of six)
Gerrard Sables (North Devon) – 96 (last out of nine)
The Communist name actually fared better outside the party. In Hackney South & Shoreditch, Nusret Sen of the Direct Democracy (Communist) Party got 202 votes, and might have got more had the electorate not been split between him and Paul Davies of the Communist League, who stole away 110 votes. Together, they were only 23,577 votes short of taking the seat.
To be fair to Mr Griffiths, he has acknowledged that they are “not primarily an electoral party”. They have not had the arrogance to prepare a programme for a Communist government, preferring the idea of a coalition of the Left. This is probably just as well, since going so far as to have policies would probably cause the party to split six ways.
It is hard to be fair to him, though, because he does take himself terribly seriously. His response to the party’s cataclysmic results is an article that begins: “Whichever party or coalition forms the next government of Britain, the ruling class will be in power.” It is hard to disagree.