What are they?
Why are they there?
What do they think they're doing?
Why do they think that we want to listen to them?
For the purposes of this post, micro-parties and independents can easily be defined - strip out the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems, UKIP, Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru - i.e. the main defined political parties - and look at whatever remains.
Of the micro-parties, the left-wing Trade Union And Socialist Coalition (TUSC) fielded easily the most candidates; as sometimes they stood alongside Left Unity (LU) I've treated TUSC/LU as a single party, fielding 138 candidates and cumulatively receiving 36,945 votes (268 votes per candidate). Their top ten performing candidates (Dave Nellist's 3.91% in Coventry Northwest and Jenny Sutton's 3.11% in Tottenham were notable standouts, but 10th place on the list and support is down to 1.20%) all lost to Labour candidates.
From the right, the only party standing a semi-significant number of candidates were the English Democrats in 32 constituencies. They managed 6,531 votes (204 votes/candidate) and even their best-performing candidate only managed 1.30% of the vote. Curiously, all their top candidates all lost to Labour too.
The usual suspects (Christian Party et al, Loonies and affiliates, regionalists) also stood, but as ever made no significant inroads. Beyond that, the only others of significance were the National Health Action Party (12 candidates, 20,210 votes, but significantly down on the last election) and most intriguingly given current political manoeuvrings, CISTA.
CISTA campaign for the legalisation of cannabis and put up 28 candidates, accumulating 6,566 votes (235 votes/candidate). Whilst this might seem as feeble as the average independent or small party, for a brand new party without a history, this could well be significant. If there is no move by the government to change the classification of cannabis before the next election - and let's face it, politicians are so shit-scared of the issue that there will be no move - there would be enormous value for them to go all-out for the next one. Most people with a CISTA candidate standing in their constituency weren't aware until they saw the ballot paper; with prior name recognition, and another five years of Tory rule, this could be a party that could build a lot of popular support.
But for the first time for a while, no independents or representatives of small parties won any seats at all. Obviously this is an idiosyncracy of our broken voting system, but it's still a bit worrying.
Next...best performing independent candidates.
Things get complicated from herein...