Tag Archives: local elections

Local elections: Stroud results

stroud*Source BBC

Stroud District Council (SDC) remains in ‘no overall control’ but the Labour Party have strengthened their position within the ruling coalition by gaining 3 council seats.

The Green Party has also gained a seat.

Stroud UKIP have bucked the national trend and failed to gain any seats on the council. The Lib Dems in contrast have stuck with the national trend and have lost 2 seats (including in traditional strong holds).

This leaves SDC with:

  • Conservative – 23
  • Green – 6
  • Labour – 20
  • Liberal Democrats – 2

Unlike in neighbouring Gloucester which is also a key 2015 battle ground, the Labour Party in Stroud will be celebrating some of their significant gains including in seats like Nailsworth where they leapfrogged both the Tories and Greens (2010 election result Con 1,588 Grn 1,364 Lab 908). 

The Green Party in contrast will be looking at the series of ‘near-misses’ they had, not just in Nailsworth, but also in Bisley, and in Coaley and Uley where they just missed beating the Conservative incumbent, Tim Boxhall, by just 27 votes!

*Popular vote will be added when I get it.

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UKIP’s glass ceiling

As the UKIP media frenzy spirals further out of control, I take a quick look at why UKIP is doomed for political failure. 

Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, has declared that his party’s recent local election results represent the “first substantial step towards a party that can credibly win seats at Westminster.”

Sadly, for UKIP at least, this seems as far from realty as UKIP’s policies. Let me explain why

UKIP are edging closer and closer to a glass ceiling, a point at which the party in its current form cannot pass. The reasons for this are numerous but let me pick out two, starting with the most obvious –their policies.

UKIP stands alongside a set of policies that are described in the Independent as ‘a wet-dream’ for the far-right. They call for a tax-cut for the wealthiest while suggesting lower earners should pay more income tax (through a flat-rate 31% income tax), they want to abolish national insurance, and of course they think that climate change, well, doesn’t exist!

Liberal Democrat blogger Mark Pack put’s it less favourably summarizing their policy as, “a 1950s-style society of white men at work, white women at home and gays in the closet.”

Not only are these sorts of policies repulsive to protest voters on the centre-left but they are also far beyond what most on the right would call for.

When it comes to the crunch time of 2015, few will actually want UKIP in parliament. In Lab/Con marginals few Tory voters will risk letting Labour in through the back door.

Which leads me to my second point – the electoral system.

Mike Smithson over at Political Betting has today blogged saying, “the harsh fact for Ukip [is] that by having a vote that’s more evenly spread across the country then they would not win any MPs.” His comments are based on the well respected Rallings and Thrasher projection.

We have seen time and time again small parties failing to grasp the political nettle because of our electoral system. The SDP stand as good example who at their peak polled support over 50% and we all know how that ended.

The contemporary Green Party serve as another illustration. Polls suggest that Green policies are more popular than any other party and yet in FPTP elections they have, with only the odd exception that I will come on to,  consistently failed to break-through.

Popularity does not equal success in the broken politics of the UK.

However, the Greens actually serve to illustrate another lesson for UKIP – a lesson that I doubt they will listen to. In 2010 the Greens threw their energy, volunteer base and limited money at Brighton to ensure Caroline Lucas was elected. They succeeded, but at a price. They struggled in all of their other target seats.

What was impressive about the Greens in this sense is that they did what they could within a broken system; they consolidated their efforts into one seat. Will UKIP follow this lead?

As I write, UKIP show no signs taking on such a strategy but instead they semm to be continuing their world domination rhetoric fueled by the media frenzy that is following them.

Even if UKIP do follow the Greens lead, what one seat will they focus on? Unlike the Greens (who have been building their support in Brighton for the last 15 years) UKIP do not have any natural constituency home.

A word of warning to finish on though, UKIP have not yet reached their glass ceiling. In 2014 we have elections for the European Parliament and more local elections. There are many reasons to think that UKIP stands to do very well in these elections.

Equally, this last weekend William Hill was offering odds of 5/1 on UKIP winning a by-election before the general election takes place.

UKIP are a doomed political force destined for the political obscurities of Hamilton after dinner party speeches. The question that concerns us all though is how damage they will reap before they hit their glass ceiling and start their inevitable demise?

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An initial green reflection on the local elections

In one sense the Greens can walk away from these last local elections pleased. At the time of writing they had a steady net increase in councillors, including high profile seats such as the leader of Warwickshire’s Conservative group. But on the other hand they have once again failed to make significant gains despite so many circumstances falling in their favour.

Let us start with the positive though.

In the words of the party:

This is an achievement and should be celebrated. Once again, Greens are net winners at an election.

Equally, despite the current UKIP media hysteria, the Greens (at the time of writing) still have considerably more elected councillors than UKIP.

As Symon Hill tweeted earlier:

But hey, I guess slow and steady progess doesn’t make the headlines.

Just as this ‘slow and steady approach’ stands as a credit to the Greens though, so it also poses their biggest problem. In my home shire, Stroud (traditionally a Green epicentre) the Greens celebrated holding their one county council seat.

But in the election as a whole they saw just a 0.3% increase in the vote.

Something local Labour activists were more than happy to quickly point out:

Natalie Bennett, the Green Party leader, knows this to be a problem. During her recent leadership campaign she stated:

“A few new councillors every year may be better than moving backwards, but because we gear the party towards these modest increases we are deliberately limiting ourselves. Many party members are working extremely hard, but there’s a lack of clear national direction often leaving local party activists feeling isolated.”

In the context of a further Lib Dem and Conservative collapse (provisional figures suggest that both have dropped at least 8 points even in traditional safe areas) these modest gains have to be understood as a disappointment for the Greens.

I hope that Natalie has the confidence to welcome the few gains, congratulate those who have worked so hard but then to call these elections as they are – an overall disappointment for the Greens.

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