Home Gloucester The Election Post Mortem

The Election Post Mortem

by Barry

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.





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James May 7, 2011 - 10:59 pm

That is an impressive performance given this was your first outing and the evolving demography of the ward. You should be proud of your efforts Barry.

The degree of voter antipathy locally and nationally is of real concern. A big society with smaller government must surely depend on a greater degree of citizenship. In Australia, voting is compulsory and this extends to local elections in some states. Evidently, the majority of British people feel that politicians fail to serve their interests and concerns. This is strange given that we live in a country that makes such virtue of its parliamentary democracy.

With regard to voter antipathy, I don’t accept that “all politicians are the same”. That blatantly isn’t true and it’s why I don’t put much stock in two party or establishment politics. No one is the same. No one group is the same. No one community is the same. No one politician is the same. No one political party is the same. Human nature and human society is complex and the same holds for all human affairs, politics included.

It is a lazy remark devoid of any serious reflection and furthermore, it has
no evidence to support it. I can understand how this view might manifest itself in a country ruled through dictatorship. However, it simply does not hold for a liberal democracy, imperfect or otherwise.

The most significant disparity here is in social class. Only one in four MP’s come from working class backgrounds and this does not reflect British society at large. The ‘Antipathy Party’ currently forms a comfortable albeit passive majority. Nonetheless, it is the sleeping giant of British politics.

Meanwhile, those who do exercise their vote seem reluctant to renew the electoral system. We urgently need to introduce online/mobile voting and consider other ways of incentivising this very important civic duty. My hope is that a generation of young people educated in citizenship at school and immersed in digital technology will transform the current ambivalence in the years to come. The Green Party, I suspect, will also come to prominence.

On the referendum, I note that Scotland has voted decisively for one party based on a system of PR. Yet the Westminster Parliament is currently governed by a coalition which was elected through FPTP. This is an intriguing contrast given the messages being delivered by the lobby opposed to electoral reform.

As I see it, the return to two party politics is temporary. It’s simply not realistic for the junior partner in a coalition government to take all the collateral damage. If the coalition does not hold up, we may yet see a progressive alliance sharing power in Westminster.

If you look at the Celtic nations, they are not built on Conservative/Labour alliances so the two party state is particular to England. The apparent fragility of the Westminster coalition and the Union may yield some of the constitutional reforms that should breathe new life into our old and somewhat lethargic democracy. Only a progressive alliance that truly reflects the diversity of the United Kingdom, will achieve this outcome.

Barry May 8, 2011 - 10:10 am Reply
Eddie May 8, 2011 - 11:51 am

Interesting, but simplistic comments by James. I’d agree that not all politicians are the same ( but that changes rapidly if they get office )

The party system imo has outlived it’s usefulness, and is now contributing to the voter apathy which I agree is appalling.

In local elections I’ve always voted for the man, not the party, but sadly that just can’t be done nationally. The whip system gives such a wonderful get out to them, that what they campaign for is irrelevant. Your candidate has only to say, yes, I campaigned for this, but my party wont let me vote for it in the house.

Frankly I hope the scots do get independance. England is the only part of the UK without it’s own parliament, and it is a disgrace that Scottish MPs can vote in things that only affect England, but English MPs dont have the same privelage when it comes to Scottish issues.

Some letters that should be placed after every MPs name are NASA . Never a straight answer.

Kate May 9, 2011 - 11:31 am

You might have already calculated this but for your Quedgeley Fieldcourt….

Between 2010 and 2011 the Lib Dem – Labour swing is 10.2% (!!!)

2010 – 2011 Lib Dem – Tory swing is 11.3%

Also – to increase your % share of vote by 4% given that last year was a general election with a much higher turnout is far more impressive than it looks to outsiders.

In average years we struggle more than the Tories to get our vote out in locals and so our share goes down – 2010 and 2011 are not like for like and so your result should be applauded


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