In Defence of Liberty

Driven by data; ridden with liberty.

How well did WEP do?


Sophie Walker is a former Reuters journalist, and now leads the Women’s Equality Party. (Edited: Londonist)

In the beginning, it was all black and white.

The Women’s Equality Party (WEP) is dedicated to equal representation in politics and business, in education, equal pay, equal treatment of women by and in the media, equal parenting rights and an end to violence against women [1, 2]. Co-founded by author Catherine Mayer and comedian Sandi Toksvig, the WEP leader Sophie Walker stood to be Mayor of London. WEP also stood for the London Assembly, with Sophie Walker leading its list candidates.

(Video: Women’s Equality Channel)


Labour and the Conservatives dominated the race for mayor, with Labour candidate Sadiq Khan winning the mayoralty after receiving 44.2% of first preferences, and his main rival Zac Goldsmith MP (Conservative, Richmond) receiving 35.0% [3]. All other candidates received less than 6% of first preferences, and all other parties received less than 8% in the London Assembly election.


There were 12 candidates. (Source: BBC)

In the London mayoralty election, WEP’s Sophie Walker finished 6th, with 53,055 first preferences, or 2.0%. This vote share beat the Respect candidate George Galloway, as well as other minor candidates. In the London Assembly list election, WEP received 3.5% of the vote, the largest party to be hindered by the 5% threshold [4].

Wales and Scotland

The feminist party also stood for the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament [5]. For the Welsh Assembly, the party put forward four candidates for the South Wales Central region – Emma Rose, Sarah Rees, Ruth Williams, and Sharon Lovell – receiving 2,807 of the cast votes, or 1.2% [6]. This was eighth, and below a party called Abolish the Welsh Assembly.

The Welsh performance was somewhat better than in Scotland, where WEP contested the regional seats of Glasgow and Lothian. In Glasgow, the party received 2,091 votes, or 0.8%. Beneath other new parties like Solidarity, RISE and the Unionist Party, WEP finished tenth [7]. In Lothian, WEP was seventh, with 3,877 votes, or 1.2% [8].


This performance also appears strong on based on history. Forgetting the truly tiny parties that are consumed in the sands of time, major parties had humble beginnings.
Whilst Labour won two seats (out of 670) in the first elections they contested in 1900, the Green Party began its life as the PEOPLE Party receiving a few thousand votes across 5 seats (0.015% of the total vote, and an average of 1.8% in those constituencies) in the February 1974 election [9].


The Greens have a single MP. (Source: Neil Carter/Palgrave)

The Green’s best ever electoral performance was in the 1989 European elections, receiving 2.3m votes. Despite receiving 14.9% of votes cast, this was prior to the d’Hondt method of proportional representation being applied to these elections, and so the party won no MEPs under the First Past the Post electoral system [10].

UKIP started under academic Alan Sked, as the Anti-Federalist League, in opposition to the signing of the Maastricht Treaty. The party has typically performed better in European elections, than in Westminster elections. In the 1994 European elections, UKIP finished eighth, with around 1% of the vote. In the 1997 general election, UKIP received 105,722 votes spread across 182 constituencies, losing their deposits in 181 seats [11]. This was around 0.3% of the total votes cast in that election. Twenty years after their first European election, the Eurosceptic party won their first election, with 4.3m votes (27.5%) in the 2014 contest for the European Parliament [12].

A new party breaking into politics is not an easy task, but Women’s Equality Party has performed quite well in its first electoral contests.


[1] WEP, 2016. Our mission statement. Available from: [Accessed: 14th May 2016]

[2] Masters, A., 2015. Women’s Equality Party. In Defence of Liberty. Available from: [Accessed: 14th May 2016]

[3] BBC, 2016. London Elections 2016 Results. Available from: [Accessed: 14th May 2016]

[4] London Elects, 2016. Election of the London Assembly Members. Available from: [Accessed: 14th May 2016]

[5] WEP, 2016. Wales 2016. Available from: [Accessed: 14th May 2016]

[6] BBC, 2016. Wales Election 2016: South Wales Central. Available from: [Accessed: 14th May 2016]

[7] BBC, 2016. Scotland Election 2016: Glasgow. Available from: [Accessed: 14th May 2016]

[8] BBC, 2016. Scotland Election 2016: Lothian. Available from: [Accessed: 14th May 2016]

[9] Carter, N., 2008. The Green Party: Emerging from the Political Wilderness? British Politics. Palgrave. Available from: [Accessed: 14th May 2016]

[10] Cracknell, R., 1999. European Parliament Elections – 1979 to 1994. House of Commons Library. Available from: [Accessed: 14th May 2016]

[11] Morgan, B., 2001. General Election results, 1 May 1997. House of Commons Library. Available from: [Accessed: 14th May 2016]

[12] BBC, 2014. Vote 2014 UK European Election Results. Available from: [Accessed: 14th May 2016]



This entry was posted on June 7, 2016 by in National Politics and tagged , , , .
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