Now that it’s all over, and I have had some time to mull it over lets review what happened.
The actual result was as follows:
Deb Llewellyn The Conservative Party Candidate 1095 49%
Barry Peter Kirby The Labour Party Candidate 777 35%
David Robert Southgate Liberal Democrat 240 11%
Charley Bircher The Green Party Candidate 120 5%
The turnout was 32% with 2242 votes being counted out of an electorate of 6893.
On the face of it, I increased my share of the vote by 4% which is a result in itself, it means that I have made some progress in the right direction. The Liberal Democrat vote collapsed completely as they got just over a thousand votes last year with the same candidate, so that is a pretty clear message. However, by the same token, we as a Local Labour Party, while increasing our vote overall by about 2%, we still managed to lose Harjit Gill as a Councillor in Barton and Tredworth, so there is a message for us there too.
A really positive result for us was the increase in majority for Cllr Kate Haigh in Matson and Robinswood, and also the election of Matthew Gilson to replace Geraldine in Moreland. Another notable result was Anna Mozol taking Quedgeley Severn Vale from Cabinet Member Martyn White.
While we did also increase our votes in other wards too, largely from the Lib Dems, the overall result ended in the Conservatives taking total control over the council. While on the face of it, that is not a good thing and not the result we wanted, it could be argued that we have moved back to 2 party politics. An interesting observation I have made over the last two local elections is that actually on a personal level I get on with the Conservative Councillors very well and I think this is because while we have different views we understand that and respect it, while fundamentally we know that we are all after the same thing, and that is to work for and represent people in our neighbourhoods. This was particularly evident in the fact that we campaigned heavily against each others policies both locally and nationally, it never got personal and I thought that paid testament to the personal respect of the candidates.
The Lib Dems however did not play by the same code. The outbursts of the Lib Dems, particularly after the results was was pretty typical, Cllr Jeremy Hilton blaming us for his losses, calling our campaign Negative and a Spoiler. He blames us for pointing out that they are Liberal Democrats, and he seemed to think that it was unfair to mention what they are doing in Govenment. But for them to do the same thing against us was absolutely fine. Jeremy needs to decide if he is a Liberal Democrat and all that it entails, or he isn’t. They played some particular personal dirty tricks in Barnwood, and they got personal in Severn Vale and tried the rumour mongering in Fieldcourt. They did have a good campaign in Westgate and I think Kelsa did have a good shout.
I think the worst thing though was the turnout, at 32%, that’s very poor and I think that is a problem we need to look at as a nation and at every level of Government from Parish upwards. We need to make much more effort to engage with the electorate, and we as a public need to engage, if nothing else but to see what our tax money is being spent on. It is however a two-way street. Many people say that all politicians are the same and why should they bother etc, but then it is up to us to change it if we don’t like it and the most basic tool to change it is the vote and/or to do it yourself. I think that for many, this is just an easy and convenient excuse not to make the effort to go to the polling station. There is an interesting argument to be had as to if voting should be compulsory but we will save that for another day.
For me the best result was the support I got in Kingsway. Seeing that box opened and the shower of Kirby votes was brilliant to see, and then that this was backed up by a stronger showing in Quedgeley than I got last time too. Also the number of people who came to help, who are not Labour members, but family friends and the work that they were putting in on my behalf, a lot of these were from the Home Ed community, and many of the children were really interested in what was going on and wanting to go and drag people out to vote. Even my Mum and Dad came down to watch the result which was great.
So what are the next steps, well, I think we as a local party need to have a radical look at how we engage with the residents of Gloucester and regain the trust required to achieve the vote which will enable us to deliver on our pledges. The public trust is the most critical thing but can be easily gained by showing that our councillors and candidates are can do people who listen, and act!
Quedgeley Fieldcourt is not up now until 2014 so there is a bit of a break now, except for the County Elections in 2013 and that will be interesting as we should have new county boundary wards then, and Quedgeley may or may not include Kingsway.
- The Runners and Riders for Quedgeley Fieldcourt (barrykirby.co.uk)