Election Night

Well it's looking a bit ropey – we're 100 councillors and 8 councils down on the night so far and London, which is where things are likely to get really dicey, hasn't started to come in.

Locally, which is what I'm a bit more concerned about at the moment, the news is pretty mixed – if you can make sense of it all.

The official result – as given to the Beeb and posted on the Council's website has us down two seats, with the Tories down one and the BNP picking up three seats – except that going through the detail ward by ward, it actually appears that we lost four seats to the BNP and one to the Tories, picking up one back from the Tories along the way.

Whatever the actual figures, on a more personal note, it looks like everyone who was up this time that I personally have time for got through safe and sound – Bob Piper is definitely back in, and with a good 600 votes to spare, so its still going to be Councillor Bob on the blog. Other names will mean little to people outside this area, but its good to see Mick, Simon, Gurinder and Elaine are safely back on the council as well – and after all the communalist mucking around by the Tories last time out, I should mention that Mahboob got a hell of a good result, probably the best of the night other than the seat we picked up from the Tories.

I know the BNP thing is going to draw a bit of comment – looking at where we did drop seats to them there are few real surprises.

In one ward, the BNP came top when all three seats were up in 2004 due to boundary changes and our own candidate had a bit of an odd history where they went from being a signatory to the nomination forms of a Labour candidate to standing as an independent to being elected as a Tory over the course of three successive elections, and then crossed the floor and rejoined Labour.

In another ward we had a new candidate up, although that one's perhaps the most disappointing of the four as the last run of boundary changes moved a solid block of Asian votes into the ward, which it looks like we failed to get out, even with the BNP in the contest – I suspect that one will cause a bit of headscratching.

The third loss, in Great Bridge, was always going to be a bit of a dicey contest anyway while the fourth, which is going to be the big story as it saw a cabinet member lose his seat on a complete collapse in the Labour vote, coming in fourth and losing over 1,000 votes in the process – well if you know the ward well then you could see that coming a long way off, Should be a hell of an inquest into that result, but that's another story entirely.

A rough night then, if not a surprising one – looks like we've dropped a few more seats in Brum as well, one of them to RESPECT.

Oh bollocks – I'm going to bed.

  • Thought you might like to know that in Liverpool (large LibDem majority for some years) the front page of the Daily Post this morning has a great photo of Cllr Nick Small (Labour) celebrating his hugely increased majority in Central Ward;  and all this under the lead headline of 'Low vote as Labour makes strides in the city'……  and, on page 3, 'LibDems lose out to Labour'.  That Central Ward seat was really vigourously contested, and deserves to be noted.  Turnout is always a nightmare in Liverpool (see comment on national turn-out below) and everyone genuinely works very hard indeed to improve it, but when, as in this case, there are quite a lot of younger people out there campaigning and the result is very clear cut, I think there is real reason for optimism in terms of future engagement and, of course, in terms of outcomes. The results nationally are pretty mixed – no surprise – but they certainly aren't all one way;  and there's also lots of evidence that the show is no way near over yet.   London is absolutely critically important, but it's not the whole story, and I hope we shall start to share experiences across the country in a good way, to learn how to encourage 'ordinary voters' to become re-involved in the political process. You have to remember that those disaffected (so it is said) younger non-voters were born, grew up and went to school at a time when their parents were largely voting Tory and there were serious governmental moves afoot to remove the entire social / civic curriculm from the school agenda.   It will take more than a few years to recover from that cyncial attempt to disenfranchise people's political thinking, to take them back to a belief that mainstream politics IS important for everyone… and that all political parties are NOT 'the same'. This issue is in some ways even more important in places (e.g. challenged inner city areas) where voters are sometimes lacking in other influence, apart from their vote, than in places where people can make their views known in lots of alternative ways anyway.   Let's be pleased when we see evidence that sustained hard work by young politicos who care and have the courage to say so can enourage a clear, positive outcome in the polls -and then all endeavour to keep true to the message that it DOES MATTER. Could go on about this for ages, but enough for now!  Cheers, Hilary 

  • We have had a few good results which have bucked the national trend, and I've no doubt at all that most, if not all, of the credit for that has to rightly go to our hard-working local councillors and activists.

    Yes, we need to work harder to educate young people, in particular, in the importance of local democracy, political engagement. etc. I've argued strongly, on several occasions – as my regular readers know well – in favour of the removal of the mandatory requirement for religious education in state schools and its replacement with a broad education in civics, government and civil society.

    But all the education in the world isn't going to improve matters if we can't translate what we teach into a sense that people have some genuine control and authority over the lives and over local issues.

    I've written a few thoughts on this in another post, which will hopefully pull a few comments and maybe even spark a very necessary debate – I'd be interested to hear what you think.

  • The Greets Green result is wrong. Badham retained the seat. Another 'victory' for the Sandwell webmeister.

  • Bob has done well in that case – you know the situation down there over the last year, which is why the result looked plausible.

    Oh well, three BNP it is – still plenty of work to be done.

  •  What's wrong with being 'leafy'?  (This is a starter question, not a challenge..) May I come in again? Thanks, Unity, for acknowledging how challenging this all is, esp. re: explaining to others about the importance of politics. In one way however it's very easy.   As someone I was talking with at the end of last night said, we all must recognise that there's nothing wrong with being 'leafy', where you live.  Almost everyone wants to live somewhere leafy once they get going. What we have to do, then, is help people to understand that we know their ambitions are indeed legitimate – even laudable within the constraints of fairness and green issues etc – and that these ambitions ARE POSSIBLE from a left-perspective. I've lived in the actual city of Liverpool, in places not too far from the centre, for many years, so I know the challenges which lie this way; but I haven't given up hope of achieving a healthier, greener, more equitable and fairer place for everyone to live, and I don't think we should expect others to give up either.   What we have to do (in my view) is say that, sharing the ambition to have a genuinely decent life (with a pleasant place to live, adequate work, good local services, accepting others as we would wish to be accepted) will make that more likely actually to happen, than sharing the resentment that other people have it. There is a strong case for trying to make services and the environment and the economy and all the rest of it much better;  we just aren't as yet making that case in ways which make too much sense to some people who feel presently feel uncomfortable and unhappy about their life experience.  This is in part because of the terrible lack of political understanding which is the residue of the Thatcher and Keith Joseph (remember him?) years – and when are we going to tackle this paucity of understanding properly?  (It will take more than civics lessons…), partly because the media do so often take only 'sensational' uncontextualised shippets of what is being offered as news, and partly because there is still a bit of a sackcloth and ashes refusal by some left-wing activists to accept that most people do want to be comfortably off, and so (within the parameters above) they should. And if I can add one other factor in here… how many left-wing activists follow carefully the issues in business about corporate social responsibility, the need for public-private collaboration (NB I'm not on here about PFI, just dialogue!) in regeneration, and the like?   I'm not unaware that there's lots to worry about in the way that business is sometimes conducted, but SOMEONE has to do it, and we need to understand that it's not always easy.  Let's try to encourage the 'good' in business, as well as highlight the 'bad'.  (Yes, sometimes we do try to do this. but maybe not enough at local 'activist' level??) I would like to see a mainstream left politic which helps everyone to understand the synergies between different aspects of our economy and the huge momentum of regeneration and service improvement whcih is currently being attempted.  Dare I say that sometimes the role of critical friend is important, and that (even without social enterprise, fairtrade and other admirable work) that dialogue needs to go two ways – from the public sector to the private, and vice versa? I'd guess that a really 'grown up' dialogue between various aspects of strategic investment and public service policy at local level would go a long way towards persuading local voters that the debate is worthwhile…   and strangely enough it might even happen, through, of all places, the ODPM, if those who can genuinely try to explain, listen and respond to concerns about neighbourhood renewal and so on. No doubt others can put all this better than I have at this first shot.  Would be delighted if you want to join the debate.  Hope you think it's an important one!  Hilary  http://www.hilaryburrage.com