Tag Archives: local elections 2022

East of England – let joy be somewhat unconfined…

Greetings from an election-free Gipping Valley, where it gives me great pleasure to report on events in the East of England. In truth, you can pretty much divide the region into two halves today. In Norfolk and Suffolk, only the county towns saw election action, and Bedfordshire sat this one out altogether. That left Cambridgeshire, Essex and Hertfordshire to fight, and the results have been pretty good.

We’ll start with Essex, which saw gains in Brentwood (2), Colchester (2), Rochford (2), Epping Forest and Southend-on-Sea, as half of the councils were up, which indicates that progress is being made. The Conservative/Independent coalition running Colchester is expected to be replaced with a Liberal Democrat/Labour coalition of partners, with the Liberal Democrats holding one more seat than Labour. Will Quince, no replacement for Bob Russell in truth, should be looking over his shoulder for next time, although the split opposition might be his salvation.

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Ed Davey : Lib Dems are winning again

As of 7:45pm, the Liberal Democrats accordinf to the BBC, have gained 190 councillors in today’s elections in England,  20 in Scotland and 11 in Wales. It’s fair to say that this way exceeds our expectations.

In Ed Davey’s home patch in Kingston, our Council must be doing something right. We achieved 41 seats compared to 3 Tories and an Independent. The final ward is subject to a deferred election because of the sad death of one of the candidates.  This is even better than the Richmond result where we won 48 seats (up 9) with just 6 opposition seats.

As if that wasn’t enough, we then go and gain 20, yes that is 20 not 2.0 seats in St Albans.

We now control 16 councils which is up 3.

And Peter Taylor was healthily re-elected as Mayor of Watford.

We are undoubtedly the big winners of the election across the country.

Ed Davey has been touring the country meeting our new Councillors. Here he is on the BBC with a beautifully arranged backdrop of Somerset councillors:

Earlier in the day, he told a crowd of Wimbledon Lib Dems, fresh from their 12 gains in the ultra marginal seat:

What began as a tremor in Chesham and Amersham, became an earthquake in North Shropshire, and is now an almighty shockwave that will bring this Conservative Government tumbling down.

It is the movement of millions of people who are saying loud and clear: “We have had enough.”

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Scotland’s results – a story of Lib Dem GAINS

There has been very encouraging news from Scotland today. If you had told us at the start of the campaign that we would gain TWENTY seats, we would accused you of being wildly optimistic.

So far we are up 6 seats in Edinburgh, doubling the size of our group.

Sanne Djikstra-Downie wins in Forth ward in Edinburgh:

Longstanding councillor Dobbie Aldridge is joined by Ed Thornley in Drum Brae/Gyle.

It was pretty audacious to put up 3 candidates in a 4 member ward, even if in 2017 Kevin Lang won with the highest ever vote of any councillor in Scotland. But it paid off and Kevin and his sister Louise Young are now joined by Lewis Younie who takes a seat from the Tories.

And we get two in the three member ward of Corstorphine/Murrayfield  with two new councillors, Al Beal and Euan Davidson.

Wins for Jack Caldwell in Leith Walk and Pauline Flannery in Southside/Newington complete our sextet of gains.

In Dunfermline, Aude Boubaker-Calder regained the Dunfermline Central and Crossford ward. She had come so close in a by-election in 2019, losing out by a handful of votes. Her husband James regained his Dunfermline South seat and they both topped the poll.

Elsewhere in Fife, we gained councillors in both St Andrews and the Howe of Fife. Al Clark and Gaz Holt join Jane Ann Liston and Donald Lothian. We’ve also gained Eugene Clark in Leven Kennoway and Largo. Fiona Corps and Sean Dillon make it two in East Neuk and Landward. The total number of gains in Fife increased to 6 with John Caffrey joining Mags Kennedy in Cupar.

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We must not be complicit in fighting local elections on national issues

The old adage “Be careful what you wish for” could be reworded as “Be careful how what you wish for actually comes about.” No, it doesn’t flow easily off the tongue, I grant you, but we do need to be wary of willing the ends without paying some attention to the means.

As the 5 May local elections rapidly approach, the media is full of what a bad result for the Conservatives could mean for Boris Johnson’s future. Both media people and politicians are full of “Voters have a chance to make their feelings felt in the local elections” about Johnson’s fate, and other national issues. It makes my blood boil to hear such statements, even though I’m as keen as anyone to see the back of Johnson.

The reason is that I have seen countless top-quality councillors do a brilliant job for four, eight or more years but then get unceremoniously bundled out of office because their party is out of favour nationally. It’s heart-breaking and a real disincentive to stand in the first place. It happens because elections that should be about dustbins and council housing are made into faux referendums on the popularity of the party in power nationally.

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State of the Locals Survey 2022: opinions of councils and MPs

The Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) has released an Ipsos survey of 4,330 residents’ attitudes to councils and councillors, and their priorities. Earlier, Ipsos published part of the poll which also included people’s opinions of MPs and a regional breakdown of opinion. This survey gives a useful perspective for campaigners who are out drumming up support ahead of the 5 May elections, reinforcing and detailing what we know and what we are hearing on the doorsteps.

Respondents said local government councils and councillors had more impact on people’s daily lives and the quality of their neighbourhoods than the government. However, a majority of respondents lacked knowledge and awareness about how councils work and what councillors actually do. Half of people think MPs don’t tell the truth, while a third thought the same of councillors.

This survey can be read as disappointing. We would all like achieve more as councillors and people to have better knowledge of what we do. But on many matters, it is not as bad as I might have feared. And we know that Lib Dem councillors outclass most others in communicating, not just in the lead up to an election, but throughout their term in office.

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Strengthening – and extending – London’s yellow wall

In exactly two weeks from today, 32 London boroughs will be holding their four year all-in/all-out elections. (The City of London has already done its own thing).

And this is what it looked like in 2018:

As you can see we do have our own yellow wall in the southwest corner of Greater London where Lib Dems control the three adjacent boroughs of Richmond, Kingston and Sutton, all with substantial majorities. In Richmond we currently hold 39 seats out of 54, in Kingston 37 out of 48 and in Sutton 32 out of 50. All three are Tory facing.

Our first priority is, of course, to retain control of those Councils.

I spoke with Ruth Dombey, Leader of Sutton Council, and this is what she told me:

Things are going well in Sutton. After 36 years of running the Council, we’re quietly confident (but never complacent!) that we’ll reach our fourth decade, We have exciting plans for the future and are determined to ensure we can see them through. We have lots of new, enthusiastic and diverse council candidates and we can’t wait to see them elected to Sutton Council.

There will be some media attention on Kingston, given that Ed Davey’s constituency of Kingston & Surbiton lies with the borough.  (It’s confusing but Kingston functions both as the name of a London borough and also as one of the old towns within it, alongside New Malden, Surbiton, Tolworth and Chessington). But we also want to extend outwards and develop new patches of yellow in other parts of the capital.

For example, Merton Borough is adjacent to Richmond, Kingston and Sutton, and has a lively local party who are keen to develop.  They currently hold 6 seats out of 59. They face Conservatives, Labour and Independent Residents in different wards.

Hina Bokhari is a councillor in Merton and also a London Assembly member. She told me:

There’s no denying there’s plenty of excitement in Merton for a good result here for the LibDems. I have had Conservative voters so utterly appalled by the government and Johnson that they cannot bear to vote for them anymore.

And as it was reported recently in the Guardian, Tory activists have had a “a bit of a disastrous reception” at the doors here in Merton. Voters are very aware of what happened here in the 2019 General Election. Even Labour Party members are telling me that “Labour can’t win here”.

Over in Bromley the local Lib Dems are looking for a breakthrough – at present the Council is dominated by Tories, which presents them with a number of opportunities to (as Paddy said) “Pick a ward and win it”. Wendy Taylor told us how her father Brian did just that and won the first ever Liberal seat in Bromley in the 50s.

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Members and local coalitions 

As we hurtle towards local elections on 5th May (in Scotland, something that only happens every five years), I’d like to pause for a moment and have a think about 6th May.

In many council areas across the country, we will elect Lib Dem councillors (Yay!) and in some of those areas the question will arise whether those councillors enter coalition to form an administration. In Scotland, thanks to the Lib Dem participation in early administrations in Holyrood, we vote by Single Transferable Vote in multi-member wards (again Yay!) and this means that single party administration in any council area will be unlikely.

In the run up to 5th May, members are the source of the “3 Ds” – deliveries, door-knocking and donations. Election time makes it very clear that we could not survive as a party without our membership base – although, I do recognise that it’s not just members who contribute to the 3 Ds.

Where do members stand on 6th May? When coalition decisions are taken, often it’s the Council Group that does this alone. Some may think that this is right and proper but surely we can do better than this? If members matter on 4th May, surely they matter on 6th May and beyond?

Involving members in the decision making is a key safety valve in our process. It ensures that we don’t become trapped within the dynamic of Town Hall politics – where often personalities and petty problems can have too big an impact. It also allows for the membership to buy into the decision. In Scotland, the SNP/Green government has already decided that the next five years are going to be tough for any Council as their main job will be to deliver Nicola’s savage cuts locally.  Any administration will have to deliver bad news. Keeping your members on board is essential to weather any storm.

There are different ways of involving members and I would resist suggesting a “one size fits all” model. However, if we liberals can’t come up with a way of ensuring grassroots involvement, what hope is there for local democracy?

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