Another poor day at the polls

Given the results in the previous two years, and the national political picture after the debacle of the 10% tax band, there was no real surprise at the outcome of yesterday’s Crawley Borough Council elections.

Last year I looked at the trends in each ward and for each party, and I thought I’d do the same thing. We have now had a full cycle since the 2004 boundary changes and all-out-elections, so we can compare over the past 4 years and see the overall trends. In each seat this year, the person who was in position before May had been the most popular candidate of those elected in 2004.

2004 – 3 Labour, maj 193/216/275
2006 – Labour, maj 192
2007 – Labour, maj 374
2008 – Labour, maj 281
Again the largest Labour majority in Crawley. The incumbent had stood down due to ill health, and may have had some personal vote, but it does seem that there was a slip in support. The Tory got a similar percentage of the vote to last year, and Arshad Khan managed over 100 votes. The main difference to previous years was that the Lib Dems put no-one up and the BNP had a candidate. As is usual, the BNP took about 15% of the vote at the first attempt (they tend to slip back in later years).

Broadfield N
2004 – 2 Labour, maj 99/261
2006 – Tory, maj 0
2008 – Labour, maj 150
A popular local incumbent was re-elected here, and the Tories got fewer votes than in 2006. The Lib Dems lost about a third of their vote. Now the only ward with councillors from more than one party.

Broadfield S
2004 – 2 Tory, maj 22/52
2006 – Tory, maj 112
2008 – Tory, maj 165
The incumbent was Marcella Head, elected as a Conservative and who defected to the Lib Dems in 2006 over the Council Housing issue. She apparently endorsed Ian Irvine the Labour candidate this time, but in the end the Tories extended their lead in a two-horse race.

Furnace Green
2004 – 2 Tory, maj 155/318
2006 – Tory, maj 547
2007 – 2 Tory, maj 524/568
Tory ward, although was Labour until the late 1990s. No election this year.

Gossops Green
2004 – 2 Tory, maj 33/47
2007 – Tory, maj 150
2008 – Tory, maj 281
The Tory vote was about the same as last year, with Labour down and a BNP candidate in third. The Lib Dems lost half of their vote.

2004 – 3 Labour, maj 96/100/191
2006 – Tory, maj 21
2007 – Tory, maj 59
2008 – Tory, maj 236
Last year I had this as marginal. The BNP have stood here several times and for the first time increased their vote, getting back some of the losses since 2004. The Tory vote went up by 100, and Labour lost about 80. The Lib Dems vote pretty much held. Where we had two independents last year, none stood this time.

Langley Green
2004 – 3 Labour, maj 268/303/352
2006 – Labour, maj 406
2007 – Labour, maj 148
2008 – Labour, maj 232
Safe Labour seat, although one of the councillors is always convinced that it is dead close. The Labour and Tory votes both went up, with the Lib Dems losing half of theirs (the normal candidate stood in Maidenbower instead, perhaps there’s some personal vote there).

2004 – 3 Tory, maj 682/744/779
2006 – Tory, maj 1132
2007 – Tory, maj 1215
2008 – Tory, maj 1386
Safe Tory seat. The Tory vote leapt up in 2006, and has been creeping higher since then. The Lib Dems and Labour tied for second place (and last place).

2004 – 2 LibDem, maj 292/334
2006 – LibDem, maj 276
2007 – LibDem, maj 250
Liberal Democrat haven. No election this year.

Pound Hill N
2004 – 3 Tory, maj 778/795/831
2006 – Tory, maj 1280
2007 – Tory, maj 1001
2008 – Tory, maj 1082
Safe Tory. The Lib Dems overtook Labour to come second (the only ward in 2008 where the Lib Dem vote was more than the Labour total), and the only reason that I can see for the slip in the Tory majority is lower turnout, which is natural such a safe seat.

Pound Hill S and Worth
2004 – 3 Tory, maj 707/760/828
2006 – Tory, maj 1210
2007 – Tory, maj 1072
2008 – Tory, maj 1189
Safe Tory. The Lib Dems were in second in 2006, but Labour overtook them last year and maintained second place. The BNP stood here for the first time and came last – the only place where the Lib Dems beat them.

2004 – 3 Labour, maj 3/50/51
2006 – Tory, maj 198
2007 – Tory, maj 179
2007 – Tory, maj 254
Marginal but getting safer for the Tories. The Tories won this seat in 2003 by 3 votes, probably helped by the Greens standing. The BNP and Greens used to stand here but didn’t this time. The Labour vote went up, but the Tory vote went up faster. The Lib Dems gained votes (probably from ex-Green voters).

Three Bridges
2004 – 1 Labour , 1 Tory
2007 – Tory, maj 356
2008 – Tory, maj 297
The Tory vote did fall slightly, and the Labour vote went up slightly, but from being a knife-edge seat is firmly Tory for now. Last year there was an English Democrat and a Green, but they were absent this time. The Lib Dems did pick up votes (from the Greens again?)

2004 – 2 Labour, maj 84/87
2007 – Tory, maj 355
2008 – Tory, maj 97
Like Three Bridges, a major gain for the Tories last year. However, unlike Three Bridges, Labour came much closer to holding a seat as the Tories dropped 180 votes. The BNP beat the Lib Dems to third, both gaining a few votes.

West Green
2004 – 2 Labour, maj 147/274
2006 – Labour, maj 117
2008 – Labour, maj 180
Usually safe Labour. The winner this year was Bert Crane, who must be in contention for the longest serving councillor in the country (over 50 years). The Tory vote did go up slightly, the BNP shed votes and unlike previous years, no others stood.

Overall, a fairly stable set of results. Where they have made gains in recent years these have been consolidated (except for Broadfield North which was unusual). The only bad spot was Tilgate, which was won with a very large swing in 2007 and was much closer this time around. Now have a majority of 15 on the Council.

Another bad year. Some glimmers of hope where the vote went up (despite the national trend), but could not hold on to the remaining seats in Tilgate, Southgate or Ifield.

Lib Dems
Overall, the trend is down again. Back down to two seats after Marcella Head (who was elected as a Tory) stood down and no replacement candidate was put up in Broadfield South. In some wards shed a third of even a half of their vote, and did well in few wards where they couldn’t pick up Green votes.

First making an impact in 2003 (after a Labour Councillor defected in protest at the Iraq war), they tried to expand with several candidates across the town in later years. This time no Green candidates stood at all, apparently to avoid splitting the non-Tory vote.

Stood in six wards this year, more than ever before. In most places where they stand for the first time, they get between 10% and 20% of the vote, and thereafter the trend is slowly downwards. Ifield is their best ward, where they picked up some votes this year, but not as many as in 2004/5.

English Democrats
Came in last year, stood in two seats, did pretty badly and not a word of them since.

Far Left
No candidates from any of the left-of-Labour parties this year, as was the case last year.

After last year when several independent candidates stood, only Arshad Khan with his self-styled ‘Justice Party’ remained. He did actually pick up some votes this time.

6 Responses to “Another poor day at the polls”

  1. Skuds Says:

    The BNP getting 25% of the vote in Ifield was a disgrace. The rest was bad, but not hugely surprising, but the idea of 1 in 4 people in Ifield being racists is a bit scary.

  2. Danivon Says:

    It was just over 15% (363 out of 2306), which seems to be the maximum that the BNP can score across the town at the moment. The most they got in a single-seat race was 18% in Ifield in 2005.

    So, it’s only about 1/6 of Ifield that’s racist, although to be fair, many people don’t bother to vote.

  3. Skuds Says:

    I got it totally wrong – sorry.

    I made the stupid mistake of using the results published on the Crawley Observer website… hope they get it right before the printed edition comes out.

  4. Gordon Seekings Says:

    Northgate: Misspelling. It should be “heaven” and not haven. :-))

    West Green: Bert Crane was elected in 1952. I can only track down one other Councillor who has been a Councillor for the same length of time – and that’s a guy called Charlie Swift (an Independent) in Peterborough.

    However up till the early 1960’s local elections were not confined to Thursday but could be any day of the working week – very often influenced by whatever day was (or was not) “Market Day”. I don’t know the exact date of election for Bert or Charlie but it is possible that one of them has served a few more days than the other.

  5. Skuds Says:

    According to Peterborough’s website Charlie Swift (OBE) was first elected in 1954.

    Of course he may have been elected to some other body before that, in much the same way as Bert was (sort of) a Crawley councillor before there was a Crawley council.

  6. Gordon Seekings Says:

    For my “1952” read “1954” for both of them.

    Since doing the posting I’ve discovered that Rural District Councils (RDC) were generally on a Thursday in that era and Urban District Councils (UDC) were any day except Sunday. My informant also tells me that there could also be a County Council influence as well and he gives as an example of Lancashire UDCs voting on Monday’s to Friday’s but West Yorkshire ones mainly being on a Saturday.

    (As an aside my informant tells me that one year he managed to help out in 6 different elections on 6 different days in one week in various Council areas in Yorkshire/Lancashire…..)

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