Thursday, May 02, 2013

UK Local Elections 2013: What I'm looking at.

Okay, so it's after 10pm, and I can now talk about the local elections.  In Cornwall, where I'm based, we have three particular stories that are going to be commanding my attention.  Two are about individual councillors, and the third is the council as a whole.

The first story is Alec Robertson.  He was the leader of Cornwall Council until last year when he was forced to resign by some of those within the Conservative/Independent administration running Cornwall Council over privatising some council services.  In 2009, Alec Robertson won his ward of Helston North by 244 votes.  Will he win again, or will UKIP having a candidate there, by the name of Leonie Gough, reduce his vote to the point where either the Independent candidate Phil Martin or the Liberal Democrat candidate Mollie Scrase can pull out the victory.  Or indeed will UKIP pull out a victory?

The second story is Colin Brewer.  He was an independent councillor until the end of February 2013, when he resigned over a comment that he made at an information event at County Hall in 2011, that disbaled children cost the council too much money and should be put down.  But by April, he had submitted papers to be a candidate once again for the ward of Wadebridge East.  But this time, he has a much tougher task ahead of him.  In 2009, Colin Brewer won his ward by 145 votes, but he was only up against a Conservative and another Independent.  This time, he's up against another Independent, Conservative, UKIP, Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates.  I think it's safe to say that he has a much tougher task ahead of him this time.

Now, onto the Council itself.  123 councillors being elected in 122 wards, and last time in 2009, the Conservatives were the largest overall party with 50 seats, the Liberal Democrats had 38 seats, Independents had 32 seats, and the remaining 3 seats went to Mebyon Kernow.  Labour, UKIP and the Greens were all seatless in Cornwall.  But remember, that was in 2009, when Gordon Brown was Prime Minister and Labour was the party in power.  Nowadays, David Cameron is Prime Minister, and there is a coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in power.

Now Cornwall has traditionally been a 3 way political battle, between Independents, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.  But nationally, the Con/Dem coalition, as it is known in some circles, has not been very popular.  With austerity biting harder than expected and for longer, neither party is expected to do well.  But there is an added wrinkle here.  The council has been run by Conservatives and Independents, some of whom are not expected to do well either.

This means that we could see more minor parties making headway in Cornwall.  Labour have traditionally not been strong in Cornwall, although Candy Atherton did have some limited success as a Labour MP in Falmouth and Camborne.  And if we are to see any surge in Labour vote, it is most likely in the areas around Falmouth and Camborne.  Mebyon Kernow is the only one of the minor parties to have seats currently, and they would be expecting to do better than in 2009, but whether they do or not is something we will see over the coming hours.

UKIP have been making slow headway nationally, and they are expecting to get at least one councillor elected at the expense of the Conservatives.  The Greens do have candidates standing in some wards, but little is expected.  Also standing in some wards are The Liberal Party in Cornwall and the Labour and Co-Operative Party,  as well as the obligatory plethora of independents, with some wards having as many as 4 independent candidates on the ballot.

Outside of Cornwall, it's mostly England that is electing councillors today, though the Isle of Anglesey in Wales is also holding an election.  Full county council elections are happening in 27 counties, but most are counting tomorrow.  The notable exceptions are Somerset, Dorset and Hampshire, who start counting tonight.  Labour and UKIP will be expecting to make gains in this election, with Conservatives and Liberal Democrats losing ground.  Whether we will see other parties like the Greens, BNP and the English Democrats making any headway as well as a result, is up in the air.  7 unitary authorities are also holding elections, Cornwall is one of those.  Only Bristol though is not electing a full council, they elect a third of the council this year.

There are two mayoral elections, in Doncaster and North Tyneside, and the Isles of Scilly is also electing their unitary authority.  In some council areas as well, such as Cornwall, there are parish, town and city council elections also taking place.  This means that in some areas, counting will be going on until about 10pm Friday night.

All in all, a lot of ground to be covered over the next 24 hours or so, and this will be a key electoral test, more so for Ed Milliband and Nigel Farage, than for David Cameron or Nick Clegg.  We will see what happens over the next 24 hours.

No comments: