If only 21 councils did not exist….

A possibly interesting statistic: there were 21 councils in which the Liberal Democrats lost 7 or more seats on Thursday. The total loss across these seats was 255. In other words, across the rest of England the party made net gains (just).

By comparison, the top 21 councils for gains saw the party make total gains of 134 seats. So the overall result does seem to have been particularly skewed by a small number of particularly bad results.

Intellectual hat tip: Pigeon Post whose posting on similar lines made me work out these numbers.

Also – belated congratulations to Ashfield Liberal Democrats. As the result came in very late, their gain of eight seats (and Labour losing control of the council) has got pretty much no attention so far.

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  • Dave's toothbrush 5th May '07 - 5:50pm

    So it was a really positive night for the LibDems eh?

    Not winning here!

  • How many Tories actually post to this site? 5th May '07 - 6:28pm

    (Actually, I think it might be about two who just change their names each time, to make it look like more).
    True, though, it was a partially dispointing night, but in local politics, you win some, you lose some. The Tories in Eastleigh, for example, are probably not the happiest lot I suspect. Nor those in Manchester, Liverpool etc

  • It's a two-horse race 5th May '07 - 8:01pm


  • Laurence: the serious point is that the bad results came in a pretty small proportion of the councils that overall were up for election. Of course you can’t just imagine them away, but it is worth bearing in mind that what happened in those isn’t the whole story by any means.

  • Was often thus – though I’ve usually thought it balanced out. (eg last year Haringey balanced out Islington, Richmond balanced out Kingston etc)

    The obvious corollory to this point though is why didn’t the very best balance out the very worst.

    This particular round of elections can be a bit skewed if you do better in one area than in others due to the size of wards and the number of councillors up for election.

    Eg the votes of 8,000 electors could decide one single seat in a Met but 9 (possibly more) seats in an all-up district.

    That means swings can be hugely magnified (I warned about this after last May – though there isn’t really much that can be done).

    Our best expectation gains across all the mets, representing millions of people, could be cancelled out by (say) Waverley.

    There is a further complication as some of these seats were last fought in 2004 not 2003 (Mets were all up that year) so your measuring from different points.

    This is basically the line Chris Rennard had in the papers today -that we won big wards in the north and lost small ones in the south.

    Having had a look though I’m not sure how much that holds. I’ve not added them up but we didn’t make a huge number of gains in the northern mets. Partly a reflection of 2004 being a pretty high water mark and the organisational step to move into other wards in a met is quite a big one.

    Makes me wonder what sort of areas our gains mostly came in. I’ve not researched it but there seem to be a fair few good news stories from Eastern region (Northampton, Ashfield, Hinckley & Bosworth) so it might be the East where we did well not the North

  • And last yaer in London if you removed LD gains in 3 Boroughs it was a poor night for the LDs. They used to say lies, damn lies and Sun editorials. Now it is Lies, Damn Lies and Mark Pack statistics.

  • Hywel Morgan 5th May '07 - 8:24pm

    East Midlands not Eastern of course!

  • Places you have never run before – after a short spell of LD rule the voters see what they voted for. its one thing putting out a Focus – its a nother thing putting it into practice!

  • Mark Pack is a blithering idiot and should know better 5th May '07 - 11:04pm

    Well that’s a bloody stupid title isn’t it?

    I’m sure “Lib Dems wish you didn’t exist” will be splashed across opposition literature in those 21 council areas from now on.

  • Yellow Sunset 5th May '07 - 11:10pm

    Exactly right Dawn, places like Liverpool, or, er, Sutton which have had *particularly* short periods of Lib Dem rule.

    Come on Tory trolls – think up some new tosh. It amuses me that Tories/Labour complain about the two-horse stuff and graphs, when they’re more than happy to bandy about the “Lib Dem councils never stay in power for long”, “they never going to win” and the “they’ll say anything to get elected because they’re all careerists” rubbish without even attempting to give evidence.

  • I see that Iain Dale is suggesting that this post is an outrageous piece of Lib Dem spin. It is nothing of the sort. Analysing the results of the English elections as reported in yesterday’s Guardian it seems that we made net gains in 91 councils, net losses in 129 councils, and had no net gains or losses in 87. Our net loss should therefore have been somewhere in the order of 40 seats by my calculations: the fact that it wasn’t is due to the disproportionate losses in the councils Mark has identified. I don’t think it’s a result that justifies people rushing around like headless chickens calling for a change of leadership.

  • Bridget Fox 6th May '07 - 12:34pm

    The point is surely that extreme cases – eg where opponents fail to get nomination papers in, or a council is in meltdown over v local issues – should not distract us from the main trend. I’m not pretending that this was the best of results for us – clearly we’ve had better & worse nights – but for those interested in lessons as opposed to point scoring, we do need to look at the central trends, not the most extreme examples.

  • “we do need to look at the central trends, not the most extreme examples.”

    The extreme ends are part of the trend though – always have been. Just about every election has seen a few councils where we made a lot of both gains and losses. Sometimes the same council appears in both columns in different years (eg Torbay) I don’t think you can ignore them and just look at the middle of the bell curve.

  • Being a Gloucesteshire guy our results were very mixed. Not helped in some places by not putting up candidates in seats we held. It was the old maxim of where you campaign you win and where you don’t you lose!

    Thus we did well in Tewkesbury where there was a great campaign. Our leader lost her seat to the Tories which gave them effective control. Still up six overall.

    Our campiagns in Cotswold and Forest of Dean were not so good so made losses.

    I also think there is a recation against the incumbents. The Tories lost a seat in Gloucester. No
    elections in Cheltenham this year but it seems that who ever is in power there loses at the next election!

  • Angus J Huck 7th May '07 - 12:09am

    Laurence says: “Sir Ming should go because he’s useless, not because of these results. Chris Huhne is your man – go get him.”


    On what basis do you say Ming is “useless”? If one judges Ming against the usual criteria one ascribes to uselessness, then Ming is very clearly anything but.

    He is a leading member of the Scottish criminal bar, he is eloquent and erudite, he is well presented, he masters his brief, he speaks authoritatively and persuasively on the key issues. Furthermore, Ming is willing to take tough decisions: he will not sit back and allow underperforming colleagues, or incompetent party staff, to compromise our efforts.


    What makes you so sure that Chris Huhne would make the difference?

    Chris Huhne is a very impressive figure, and doubtless he would prove an effective leader if a vacancy arose (and he projects a visible passion which some of the other contenders lack). But we simply do not have the evidential basis for supposing that Chris would do a significantly better job than Ming, or that he would be any more successful in getting our message across via the major media outlets.

    The Murdoch press will support whomever the US military-industrial-complex decides is to be the next Prime Minister. At the moment they are backing Blair. That may change to Cameron (Frank Luntz wasn’t sent here to ensure Cameron got the Tory leadership just for the hell of it). And the BBC and ITN have a habit of squeezing out those who lack the means or the wherewithall to grease up their reporters (“building relationships” is the euphamism, I believe).

    In these circumstances, it seems to me that neither Chris Huhne nor anyone else is going to be any more successful in getting through to the electorate than Ming.

    What more do you want from our leader, Laurence?

  • Er…no, that wasn’t my point. My point is that the losses were very heavily concentrated in a small number of councils – rather than being spread evenly across the board.

    Knowing that was happened is (in my view) an important step to learning how to have better results next year.

    Of course shouting IDIOT!!!!!!!!! might be a better tactic 🙂

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