Saturday, June 6, 2009

Crack open the champagne!

...Or a rambling personal note on the council election results.

First of all, if you lost your seat in the elections, regardless of your party label or lack of it, do remember that losing at an election is God's/Fate's (delete as applicable) way of telling you to live a little.

Stephen Tall gives a very balanced view of the LibDems' performance here.

Overall, the Liberal Democrats projected share of the vote is cause for opening up the champagne! Trebles all round!

It's at 28%, compared to the Tories' 38% - just a ten point gap between us and the Tories. Compare that to the opinion polls in July/August 2008 when we were regularly twenty seven points - yes - count them - twenty seven points behind the Tories. If you don't believe me then look at this graph, which shows the LibDems around 18% in July/August 2008, with the Tories on around 45%.

Also, after all the nonsense we have had over the last few years about leaders, we have at last got a leader who is performing brilliantly, particularly over the last few weeks. Nick Clegg was particularly good and omnipresent on the media yesterday. This is cause for great rejoicing.

Oh, and, by golly, by gosh, we have at last got something which might be loosely described as that precious, precious commodity which the Liberal Democrats have searched and searched and searched for, for many long years. Yes, you guessed it - a narrative!

And let's savour Bristol a little shall we? Barbara Janke and her team have been plugging away at Bristol for many years. This is not an overnight success story. If you go back to the 1995 elections, Labour held a staggering 53 seats on Bristol City Council, with the LibDems on 9 and Tories on 6. So, little by little, the Bristol LibDems have plugged away and gradually built up their representation on the city council to the current level: LibDems 36, Labour 16, Tories 17, Greens 1. Well done team Bristol!

By the way, before any LibDems get too depressed, or indeed any Tories get too elated, they should look at this excellent analysis from Duncan Stott on Split Horizons. It shows that the Tories have grabbed seats way above their vote share. For example, in Staffordshire they won 79% of the seats with only 43% of the votes. How can that be good for democracy? Indeed, I'd argue that it isn't even good for the Conservatives. In a few years time they will get over-complacent, knackered and out of touch from too many council cabals, and then the electorate will take their revenge on them. It's all rather pointless.

I'd like now to focus on Cornwall and congratulate my fellow countryfolk (from, admittedly, my airey-fairey vantage point of exile in in a county where the trees go straight up and round) on establishing Cornwall Council. Yay! At long last!

And many congratulations to the Liberal Democrats for establishing an excellent representation on the new council - 38 seats. That, for Cornwall, is actually very good, bearing in mind it is an area with a tradition of many Indpendent councillors. I am particularly cheered that the whole of the Bude and Stratton area is now represented by LibDem councillors! Hurrah! So, many congratulations to Nathan Bale in Bude North and Stratton, Nigel Pearce in Bude South and Paula Dolphin in Flexbury and Poughill. This is a marvellous full house, when you consider that the area has been represented by independents (as well as some Liberal Democrats more recently) for many many years.

It was also good to see Glenton Brown being elected in Tintagel, a LibDem hat-trick in Launceston and a very strong LibDem showing both in Newquay and Penzance.

Many congratulations to Robin (Lord) Teverson on being elected for St Mewan ward and congratulations to David Hughes for being elected for Tywardreath ward, or the Du Maurier ward, if you prefer it (which you probably don't).

Finally, I would note that no Labour candidates were elected to Cornwall council. This is remarkable when you consider that Labour has traditionally been strong in the Redruth-Cambourne-Falmouth area. They used to have the MP going back years when Dr John Dunwoody held it, then Cathy Atherton from 1997. Indeed Cathy Atherton tried to get elected to the council in Carn Brea North but come third. The nearest Labour came anywhere to winning a seat was in Redruth North where they came 2nd.

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