Friday, May 04, 2007

May Elections

Last nights result was not our best performance and I've great sympathy for the many hard working Labour councillors across the country who've lost their seats. Last night I attended the election count at Epsom and Ewell where Labour lost all three seats on the Council. Epsom last two very hard working Labour councillors in Vince Romagnuolo and Sheila Carlsen along with Jamie Milne who would've been a fantastic councillor. Epsom will be a great deal poorer without their presence on the Council though I've no doubt they'll return in time.

At the election count, I also happened to bump into the Tory Leader of Merton Council David Williams and Samantha George his Deputy Leader. The Merton Tories had in recent weeks been assisting in Ruxley ward in Epsom, despite their efforts only one Conservative councillor out of three was returned. Indeed in Epsom and Ewell they only managed to get two councillors elected in the whole borough, a pretty dismal performance in what is a Residents Association dominated borough and should be true blue teritory.

In terms of overall performance for Labour, some comfort can be drawn from the fact that we improved on last years performance and made gains in a number of areas were Labour were in opposition and some where Labour ran the administration.

In terms of Scotland, we did significantly better then what the polls were forecasting just a few weeks ago and may even up as the largest party. The downside was the huge number of spoilt ballot papers estimated at 100,000, clearly mixing up electoral system has caused great confusion and produced many problems. With the election being so close, some result may be subjected to a court challenge.

Although the Conservatives did do well, the share of the vote is only a percent higher then last year and only a few percent above the totals they were polling in 2000 and 2004. While 40% is the amount they need to poll to stand any chance of success, every opposition party has done well in the mid-term of the parliament, however before in 1995/96 Labour were polling figures over 45% and the Tories were even polling those figures back in previous elections when the were in opposition in the sixties and seventies.

The biggest losers from last night had to be the Liberals, to lose nearly 300 seats is a pretty dismal performance in the mid-term of a 3rd term Labour government. In many areas where they'd gained councils from Labour they lost seats and other places like Waverley, Bournemouth, Torbay they suffered what can only be described as electoral meltdown. Whenever they gain a council either from Labour or Conservatives they seem to have difficuties in retaining control, although they gained some councils last night it is very likely that they'll end up losing them again after a few years. If I was a Liberal, they should really question the long-term future of Ming Campbell, while they're very good at pushing out their leaflets when they are in oppostion, if they gain power they are very poor at holding except in a few specific examples. The Liberals really have to decide soon whether Ming Campbell is the right person to lead them into the next election otherwise they could be faced with electoral meltdown at the next election.

While the election produced many interesting results, the whole political landscape will shortly be changed by the change in Labour leader, the electorate is also extremely volatile and public opinion can change very rapidly over a short period of time. Clearly a message has been given by the people and it's important that we listen to their views.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rather like Merton Labour and Tories, Merton Liberal Democrats were helping out in Court and Samford, which returned six Lib Dem councillors I'm pleased to say. As for the results. True, it's disappointing to see a net loss of councillors, but a 26% share of the vote is the (joint) second highest share of the vote we've ever received. It's unfortunate that we were fighting seats we last fought in 2003 when the Tories were suffering from Iain Duncan Smith's leadership. What's interesting is that many councils suffered from a swing against the party in power. And indeed, in lots of the councils where the Lib Dems lost power we are still the largest party on the council, just not having enough seats to control it. We took councils from both Labour in the North (eg Hull) and the Tories in the South (eg Northampton, Eastleigh). Unlike Labour, which don't really exist in the South of the country, and the Tories which don't really exist in the North, we challenge across the whole of the UK.

Oh and Martin, as much as you might not like to admit it, we run many of our councils effectively and for years and years - eg Liverpool and Newcastle.

11:36 pm  

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