After the Election the elected Labour Councillors form what is called the “Labour Group”, in this they elect a Leader who’s job it is to decide how the party will represent itself at Council meetings and the like. For the past 3 years Mark Hobbs (Moreland) has held the reins, but this year the Leaders Mantle has been passed to Kate Haigh (Matson and Robinswood), who kept her seat in the recent election after raising her majority to over 500.
Mark has steered the group through some particularly tough times and has left some big shoes to fill, but I know that Kate will put her heart and soul into it and fill those shoes well. But as with anything, a change in leadership will change the dynamics and drive within the group in different ways, so it will be interesting to see how this change in leadership becomes prevalent in what the group do and the effect it has on Gloucester Labour as a whole.
The other bit af ‘amusing news’ is that there is apparently a ‘bitter’ row between the local Labour and Lib Dem parties. This is largely all down to Lib Dem leader Jeremy Hilton blaming us for their poor showing (in general) at the election. I had some personal experience of this when I had an email from him blasting our election campaign and being so naughty as to making a link between them and the Liberal Democrats. (I always thought the clue was in the same name). But apparently it was disingenuous to link them to the same Liberal Democrats in the Coalition. But its fine to link us to the national Labour Party and the previous Labour Government. Though I would hadly call it a row, but Jeremy certainly seems to be bitter.
I agree with Mark Hobbs, who said “The Liberals should look to their own party leadership for the reason they suffered major defeats in councils nationally, and Jeremy Hilton should look to his own leadership locally as to why he lost key seats in this city. Over the past year the Liberals on the city council have voted consistently with the Tories on key issues such as the green waste collection charging. If he thinks that it is Labour’s fault the Tories are now back in overall majority he should be taking a serious look at his voting record for the past year and remind himself of how he and his group have let the people of this city down.”
As I have said previously, I don’t really care what the Gloucester Lib Dems are up to and their campaign strategy. It’s not their fault that we lost locally, I think the electorate made their view pretty clear. The fact that across the city they came 3rd in the vote share says a lot. But what says more is that the turn out was very low, between 30% and 35%, I think that is more damning for all councillors,candidates and parties. People either don’t realise just what the council does with their money, don’t care what they do on their behalf or believe that it is a complete waste of time.
I believe that we as Gloucester Labour will be both inward looking at ourselves to learn from this election, but also outward looking as to what we can do to prove that the people of Gloucester can trust us with their vote. I think our councillors, under Kate’s leadership will prove that by their actions, and the rest of us need to do the same and follow their example. Not only do we have a need to gain voters for Gloucester Labour, but also to show to the electorate that they are (or should be) the most important piece in the mechanism, especially if we want to change it.