Now The Dust Has Settled: A Brief Summation; by Lord B
The votes have been tallied, counted and announced. The Pearson Centre has been cleared of the trestle tables used for counting, and the new Councillors anointed at County Hall. It’s all over.
There was a chance that the process could have gone on much longer; if there was no overall control then the parties would have had a long period of horse-trading and scurrilous plotting. We’ve been spared that by Labour scraping through with a majority of one.
What conclusions can we draw? There was no overwhelming victor as such: Labour’s one seat was an improvement, but was well below what they should have gained when national polling is taken into consideration. Labour activists have confidentially expressed resentment at the campaign: that the wrong approach was taken, that there was no cohesion between the party in its distinct north-south entities.
This expressed itself with the defection of North Broxtowe Labour activist Sarah Brown. A few days before the election, she told me that the disillusionment with the way her branch was run was leading her to consider a move. This was great news for the Lib Dems, who gave her the incentive of standing for parliament in 2015, possibly in Sherwood. Despite this, she campaigned in Nuthall right up to polling day, before giving me the nod to break the news on Twitter on Saturday.
It’s a PR coup for a buoyant Lib Dem party. They held all five of their seats in Broxtowe, albeit with reduced majorities in most. Brown’s crossing of the proverbial floor led to them portraying Labour in disarray, as the North Broxtowe members move leftward away from the moderate centre-left David Watts likes to think his party occupy.
I’m sceptical about this, but first a disclaimer. I’ve known Brown since the 2010 election: we briefly worked together at the City Council. She was bullishly political then, as I recall the first thing she ever said to me was ‘Did you vote Labour?’
I nevertheless think that her move to the Lib Dems is not through ideological reconfiguration, but I will stop short of labelling her cynically ambitious. I think the reason is more to do with the divisions in Labour, and its ability to attack itself more effectively than the lay into the opposition. Brown claims she was ‘marginalised’ by other members, but other sources claim this was more to do with her politics being notably more left-wing than her fellow members.
The Tories lost control of County Hall, and generally had an awful day. While Ukip failed to inflict the damage expected, there was little to be cheerful about for the Blues. Eric Kerry was usurped from Beeston South and Attenborough, and was visibly gutted. He still remains a Broxtowe Borough Councillor, but it’s scant reward. A possible PPC in 2015, should Soubry not stand?
The Ukip (lack of) Effect; by Chris Fox
What is interesting about the Broxtowe by-election is the way in which it has, depending upon your interpretation, either bucked the national trend in terms of the UKIP vote, or is actually an election ahead.
We think it’s the latter, and here’s why.
As we all know by now, the popular press has been very keen to play up the really quite minor victories by UKIP. The Telegraph described their win as “nearly well over 150 seats,” which is a very creative way of saying 147.
In Nottingham however, the 1 seat that UKIP had in Hucknall, won in the previous election, was taken from them. In Broxtowe they were barely present – their highest percentage was 23% of the vote in Beauvale, which put them 3rd behind Labour and the Conservatives.
This could well mean that Nottingham is ahead of the trend. We had our taste of UKIP in power and we voted them out. Only time will tell, but we expect that in two years time this will happen again, but on a national scale. And there is precedent. The same has been seen with the SNP and the BNP is previous by-elections – a flash in the pan, sudden but small explosion of victories, followed by a quick voting out.
One of the real characters in the election was the wild-card Independent, local activist Richard MacRae. Again, a disclaimer: we grew up on the same street in the seventies/eighties, but I didn’t really know him that well.
His campaign was refreshing as he stood on his record as a local activist rather than on the tired promises party-based politicians churn out. His gold-teeth, home-printed campaign hoodie and trainers were massively incongruous on the campaign trail: though he did get suited and booted for the vote/ count.
He certainly put the frighteners up the other parties. The Field Farm issue is highly emotive, and he knew this. As Labour and Lib Dems voted for recommendation to develop on the site, he threatened to steal votes off both. While the Tories voted against the motion in the chamber, Anna Soubry cynically refused to disclose what happened when she lobbied Eric Pickles about the issue, claiming she was still undecided.
This showed how much the Tories feared MacRae too. And while he didn’t cause a shock, he still polled just under a 1,000 votes and looks like causing an upset in 2015.
Well, that’s us done. It’s undecided if we’ll blog the Euro elections next year, but if not then we’ll be back in early 2015 to bring you the Big One: The General Election AND the Boroughs. Unless the Coalition collapses beforehand, that vote will take place in exactly 2 years time.
We’ll leave this blog up for guest submissions: if any members of the parties/ members of the public want to write their summation / views then please send them over. But Chris and I must now say tarah, and give you a huge thanks for following, reading and commenting.