Second Best

The elections and referendum are now over, and I’ve had a weekend to absorb the results. First off, the most local:

Eastlands Ward, Rugby Borough Council results

Neil Sandison (Lib Dem) – 1057
Owen Richards (Labour) – 506
Paul Newsome (Tory) – 495
Bert Harris (TUSC) – 67

Last year I came third, some 150 votes behind the Tory (same candidate), and about 1100 behind the Liberal. The turnout was higher then, but comparing to previous years when it was only local elections, the Labour performance was quite an improvement. The swing from when Neil Sandison last stood is over 11% from Lib Dem to Labour. In the leaflets put out by the Liberals they said that the Tories are their main competitors and that Labour is always some way behind in third. Not any more!

So, thanks to all those who voted for me, and to the people who helped out in the campaign. We did more work in other areas where Labour had a better chance of winning, but every step forward helps.

In Rugby as a whole, the only change was pretty much expected – the Tories took the last Lib Dem seat in Dunchurch and Knightlow. Elsewhere there were a few patterns:

1) In most wards, as was the pattern nationally, the Tory vote was about the same. However, the only place they gained much support was Dunchurch.

2) In most wards, Labour’s vote went up. Not all by the kind of swing achieved in Eastlands, but enough to clearly secure the already held seats and to bring some Tory seats towards marginal status – Admirals, Overslade and potentially Hillmorton and Brownsover North.

3) The Lib Dems lost a lot of ground. They collapsed in Dunchurch, and in some wards where they’d been ahead of Labour they slipped behind (Hillmorton and Brownsover North most notably). However, in the two wards where the Tories hoped to make gains – Paddox and Caldecott, their vote went up and they extended their majorities. It’s interesting to note that in Paddox, Labour’s vote also went up quite a bit. However, the Lib Dems could only find 10 candidates this time, which suggests they will have problems outside their strongholds

4) The Greens had been on the slide before this year, but appear to have picked up disaffected Liberals and recovered somewhat. In two places they beat the Lib Dems leaving them in fourth place.

5) TUSC (Trades Unionists and Socialists against the Cuts) are a new slate. They did a deal with the Greens to not stand against each other and between them covered all 16 wards. They came last wherever they stood (and the guy in Eastlands received their lowest vote). Labour concerns about splitting the anti-Coalition vote were not borne out.

Overall, Labour didn’t get the same kind of swing that was seen nationally – if there’s a North-South divide in fortunes, then Rugby is perhaps more Southern. However, someone at the count said that Rugby always seems to be about 1 year behind the national trends. I suppose we’ll find out next year. Or will we? Next year will be an all-out election on new boundaries, and so measuring trends will be much harder.

In the local and regional elections as a whole, I would say that Labour did ok. Not brilliant, but not poorly. Wales was a very good result, Scotland was awful. Making gains in many major cities was certainly welcome, but the Tories won more seats than they lost as the Liberal collapse benefited them as well as Labour.

As for AV – I was surprised at the margin of victory for ‘No’. I do wonder if that was what helped the Tories in the locals, bringing out more voters than usual. I voted ‘No’, but not because I liked the No2AV campaign (it was based on a load of lies). It was more that I saw AV as making very little difference in most places (so would not affect the large number of safe seats), and that it can have perverse effects when the second and third placed candidates are close together. The order of elimination can decide the result, so it’s possible for a party that won last time to gain support but lose the election (if they gain the support from the wrong voters).