Saturday, May 05, 2007

The day after...

Firstly a big thank you to everyone who voted Labour on Thursday here in Darlington. Rather than getting down in the gutter with the opposition, we tried to communicate how with Labour, the Borough could continue to progress. I look forward to helping implement our manifesto over the next 4 years.

A quick comment on the turnout - I haven't seen the overall figure for the town but across the board it looked good, and in no less than 5 wards it was above 50%. The idea that the body politic in Darlington is somehow sick, with apathy ruling, is patently nonsense.

There are lessons for all the parties after Thursday's remarkable results: -

Labour

We suffered some serious losses, and I would be a fool to try and pretend that the outcome was all about Labour's national unpopularity. Wherever I canvassed, I met some residents who felt that the Council had not listened adequately on key issues like Pedestrian Heart. For the reasons I've blogged before, I feel that the opposition have unfairly tarnished us with that brush, but now we must demonstrate overtly how we place openess and transparency at the centre of everything we do.

That being said, with a big swing against the party (15% was being mentioned during the Count), to hold seats in Harrowgate Hill, Pierremont, Cockerton East, Haughton East and Haughton North was an astonishing achievement. Both the Tories and the LibDems now know, if they didn't before, that we're not a party that rolls over when faced with intense competition.

Conservatives

The recriminations were beginning as matters drew to a close at Friday lunchtime. Opportunities to supplant the ruling party decisively come along once in a generation, and the Tories know that they blew it. Some clever candidate selections in Harrowgate Hill and Pierremont were wasted as they complacently assumed that seats would fall into their hands without a great deal of effort. Amusingly, in advance of the result, the Tories had scheduled a Group meeting for 2pm on Friday, presumably to discuss their tactics in the light of a hung council. Pure hubris, and little wonder that the LibDems steamrollered them in Hurworth.

LibDems

As the results in Central and Lingfield came in, a senior LibDem muttered to me, "what if we'd put out the 'it's a two horse race' leaflet there? In fact that rather missed the point - the LibDems threw the kitchen sink at Labour in Haughton East and Harrowgate Hill and came away with nothing. Labour has rumbled the LibDems' campaigning template, and more to the point, so have local residents. It's not clear where they go from here.

BNP

Made no impact whatsoever on the election campaign, other than in North Road, where they got a mention which had nothing to do with their activity. The North East is the weakest area for BNP activity, and these results bore that out.

Independents

Made big gains in neighbouring Stockton and Sedgefield, yet ended up getting wiped out here. Despite having personalble candidates like Bill Maybrey in Middleton St George and Eric Thompson in Heighington and Coniscliffe, they made no impression whatsoever. There seems to be no enthusiasm for independent candidates in Darlington.

19 comments:

ian white, townliar.com said...

Nick
Just as well you got back in, in a perverse way. I recently renewed the liars server subscriptions and increased its size, what a waste that would of been if you,d lost!
Someone has to keep you lot on your toes. LOL
Ian

Darlington Tory said...

The day after and you revert to type Nick.

Though I agree that the turnout was very good, that is about all that can be agreed with on your analasys.

First you say what an astonishing achievement to hold seats, then claim that I and my colleagues were complaicent, which is it?.

You then accuse myself, Cllr Kate Davies, Tim Hinton-Clifton, Cllrs Mr & Mrs Cartwright of being lazy, after stating your people in those wards faced intense competition, which is it?.

Now I know that just for one of us to become a Cllr we needed a 15.2% swing in Pierremont, you do not get that type of swing if you do not put in the work and as our conversation at the count went, I said to you "there is no point standing if you are not prepared to fight" Only a fool would suggest that no effort would win you a seat and myself and my collegues are no fools.

"complacency" is indeed a word that should be used in your findings only it should be for New Labour, you have said yourself as has your leader (for how much longer) lessons need to learnt complacency is one such lesson.

Dave

Darlington Councillor said...

Actually, David, I was paying you and your colleagues in Pierremont a compliment - the Tories for once had deployed strong candidates up against a seasoned Labour team in the ward. I certainly would not accuse you of complacency - I know of the work you put in and saw the leaflets.

You suffered because your leadership took for granted that some seats would fall into the Conservatives' laps, and so no extra effort was required. It's my impression that people like Kate and the Cartwrights won despite your town-wide strategy and not because of it. Senior Tories had been bragging privately that Darlington would become hung after the elections.

As I said on the posting, that was pure hubris, because we don't know when we're beaten. Steve Harker and Marian Swift will continue as extremely effective Councillors for the ward.

Darlington Tory said...

Fair enough Nick, I must of misread that piece.


Dave

Paul Leake said...

Independents tend to do best in places where there is no real competition between the parties, either in 'apolitical' rural areas or areas where only one party really organises (see Derwentside, Teesdale, most of Sedgefield and Stockton). Darlington doesn't really fit either of those.

Darlington Councillor said...

You make a good point, Paul, although we have had independents in the past (often renegades from one or other of the main parties).

It is the case that Darlington is not fertile territory for independents in the main - something that those promoting the idea of an independent elected Mayor carrying all before them, should bear in mind.

Dave - thanks for that, my posting was ambiguous, so apologies.

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes.....

'Down in the gutter with the opposition" is a bit strong and does not bode well for the future.

In Harrowgate Hill the candidates of all three main parties treated each other with respect and dignity. The only difference was on policy and our view of the future, but it never became personal, nor did the candidates trade insults across the political divide. We had plenty of laughs along the way. Comparing notes on how the election was going. The main comment was "we don't know."

What gave me a warm feeling was there was unity between the parties on certain issues which confronted us during the campaign such as Tesco's. We shared our expertise which was wonderful. We were and still are committed to making Harrowage Hill a better and safer place for the people who live there.

I just hope that the new Council will come together and share a common vision of how Darlington should progress now and in the future. Put asise your political divisions and work for the good of Darlington and the people who live there.

For example: bring all of the people into government and to listen to and respect their views and opinions not just in those wards where Labour are strongest, give people the power to decide on issues which concerns them such as Council Tax increases, deliver excellence in education, give parents real choice over the schools they want their children to attend, provide facilities where they are needed right across Borough because there is resentment that certain areas of the town are getting the cream and others are losing out and bring back respect and dignity to local government.

When I was canvassing in the ward I was struck by the apathy and cynicism people have towards politiicans and Darlington Borough Council. There is great disengament out there. That will have to be addressed.

Yes we all must learn lessons from the election.

miketually said...

Technically, do we not have one independant Councillor - Steven Jones?

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes....

Final thoughts on the election. There were some funny moments on the campaign trail.

I was bitten by a dog after I finished delivering a leaflet to a house in the ward. The owner looked at me nonplussed and said "he's never done that before." If I hadn't been in pain and shock and was cursing the animal, I would have said "Madam, there is a first time for everything."

One of my fellow Lib Dems rang a fellow candidate who was a GP on his mobile phone to ask if he could administer an anti tetanus injection to him as he had just been bitten by a dog.

Or the Lib Dem candidate who was half asleep from exhaustion through delivering too many leaflets in a short space of time and wandered into the road only to be nearly run down by a car containing two Labour candidates.

There must have been other hillarious moments on the campaign trail?

Anonymous said...

Reported by the candidate himself:
Cllr Geoff Walker on doorstep to voter: "Are you voting Labour this time?. Voter: "I'd rather vote for Satan." Geoff Walker: "I'll take that as a no, then."

Anonymous said...

Voter on doorstep: "If I vote for you, will you stop people waiting for the bus outside my house weeing in my garden?"

Anonymous said...

Steve Jones Replies to mike,
As i am suspended and will be sacked on the 14th of this month i am now an independent councilor.

Anonymous said...

Hey Nick there's pictures of your Stalinist PHart in the Town Liar. Showing just how jerry built it all is.

Care to explode a few myths?

Darlington Councillor said...

Hey anonymous.

I thought it might be time for the opposition to move beyond crude slogans like "Stalinist PH" now that we have all had a chance to listen to the views of Darlington residents, but apparently not.

There is snagging work to be done - not surprising for a job of this scale. As I understand it, the damage and repair to the Joseph Pease staute plinth happened when the it was last moved in the 1950's.

ian holme said...

Nick,
It has to be said Labour did well to get enough voters out in their key wards.

What must not be forgotten though is that (by my poor maths!) labour in darlington appear to have got LESS votes than the tories.

Hardly the vindication of labour that you suggest.

"First past the post" clearly does not deliver fair representation of the electorates wishes.

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