At the end of the day

by Stephen Tall on May 4, 2007

Fairs fair – I owe the Tories a semi-apology. They have clearly had a very good set of elections, in England at any rate.

The minimum benchmark for success they needed to clear was 750 net gains. Theyve chalked that up. Yesterday, I suggested 900 net gains would be more of a demonstration of their strength. They’re probably not going to quite manage that, but they’ll be within touching distance. No good pretending that’s not an impressive achievement.

However, it will be interesting to see the more detailed breakdown of results – to what extent have the Tories piled up gains in Parliamentary seats where they already have an MP? (A genuine question: I don’t know.)

In the three councils Prof John Curtice identified in yesterday’s Indy as bellweathers of a Tory comeback, their success was more muted: they gained Gravesham from Labour, winning five seats; but they made little progress in either Ipswich or Bury, both of which remain ‘hung’.

For the Lib Dems, too, we need to see if we have restricted our losses to those areas where we made or retained unexpected gains in 2003, and which hold little strategic importance for the party, at least in the short-term. Clearly there were seats where we plummeted: four councils alone – Waverley, Bournemouth, Torbay and North Somerset – account for almost one-third (80) of our net losses (240 at time of writing). I assume local factors were at play.

However, there are many areas in the south where the Lib Dems have repelled the Tory charge – and, significantly, they are in highly marginal areas which are vital for the Lib Dems, for example:

  • Vale of White Horse (Oxfordshire) – 4 net gains;
  • Winchester – 2 net gains;
  • Salisbury – 10 net gains;
  • Eastleigh – 2 net gains;
  • Eastbourne – 9 net gains;
  • Mendip – 8 net gains;
  • Taunton Deane – 11 net gains;
  • Tewkesbury – 6 net gains.

So the results are by no means one-way traffic. Nor should we forget that our projected 26% share of the vote has only been bettered on three occasions in the last 20 years (and in those years – 1994, 2003 and 2004 – only by 1%).

But political perception, at least as much as reality, depends on momentum. And that’s what is lacking from the Lib Dems’ overall national results, and what the Tories are able to take away from theirs.

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Great analysis, Stephen. Don’t forget Portsmouth where they held off a ferocious Tory challenge.

by Paul Walter on May 4, 2007 at 5:30 pm. Reply #

One that sticks out in my mind for Lib Dem losses with sitting LD MP:
Torbay (I only looked because Marcus Wood is a regular over on pbc – it’s got to be looking good for him now). To be fair, there may well be local issues (If not, I’m going to be betting heavily on a Con gain at Torbay!)

by Andy Cooke on May 4, 2007 at 6:06 pm. Reply #

Scarborough and Whitby: despite new Tory MP we made 4 Lib Dem gains, the Tories lost overall control of the council (which has been Conservative since the Vikings landed) and both their mayor and deputy mayor elect.

by Peter Mc on May 4, 2007 at 6:55 pm. Reply #

Hey Stephen,

Yeah it was a great night for the Tories. But it wasn’t a General Election – with all the policy analysis that that entails. Cameron can enjoy his days in the sun, because he’s yet to prove himself when it gets tough (see his very poor showing at the budget and in his response to the Queens Speech).

This arena (the locals) is perfect for slippery Dave, but I still feel that when the going gets tough, he’ll be exposed as what he is: a brand manager, not a chief exec…

by Aaron on May 4, 2007 at 7:23 pm. Reply #

I think you lot are missing the whole point.

Socialism, whats left of it, has now finally had its 7 years too long at least, stint in the sun.

Liberals would be wise to look to their now very distant Libertarian roots, and ditch as many socialist bullshit idears ASAP or die with the Labour party, for a generation at least.

Your party has allowed itself to be seen to be left of the Labour party instead of right of it. This is a completely crap place to be when socialism has again shown itself to be what it always was.

COMPLETE CRAP even for the poorest of people. Socialism is an economic model designed only for the good of dictatorial illiberal governments who wish to intimidate impoverish and controll ordinary peoples lives.

One of the greatest liberal thinkers of British history, is now printed on the back of a £20 note.

Do any of you lot even know or care to know who Adam Smith was?

by garypowell on May 5, 2007 at 3:20 am. Reply #

And sincere thanks for your help in achieving at least one of those gains in the Vale.

The Ock Meadow result got the biggest cheer of the day.

by Liberal Neil on May 5, 2007 at 9:39 am. Reply #

Here in Cornwall, though we lost ground to the conservatives it was blatantly clear especially in Truro that the Tories are not equipped to fight to win. Very potent indicators at the count in Truro showed a massive split in the Conservatives. On the one hand there was the official group putting a brave face on a bad bad job- I think they are the old Crossley supporters who picked the wrong candidate or, not so local candidate, Sarah Newton, who incidently was there looking a very poor show- sadly very unattractive and not at all “politically sexy” or a good bet on a winning ticket.
In another group were more Tories standing as Independents, some had been kicked out by the Party for High crimes of not supporting the loser Crossley. They were well organised and a formidable force and won decisively.The Cornish Tartan was their Political Prop and very effective it was. A Mrs Smith (sacked by the tories also- bloody fools )was their agent,and she looked very organised putting the Tory Agent to Total Shame.
UKIP did well too, again many former Tories.The tories will have too watch them next time as they drew votes away from the tory machine.
So the conclusion in Truro is that we lost control of Carrick and the Independents (ironically former Tories ) have the Balance Of Power.
The sooner we get a good local PPC appointed the better but we can rest assured that the Conservatives do not have a winning PPC in Newton.We will be playing strongly on all the second Homes she has in the Family.

by TRURO LIBERAL DEMOCRAT MEMBER on May 5, 2007 at 10:57 am. Reply #

Andy – Torbay – local issues and then some I think. And I hardly think you can say that the MP has been too closely connected with the council group in the public mind.

Peter Mc – Didn’t Labour lead Scarborough in the 1990s when it was NOC? Certainly good to see the Tories losing in at least one part of North Yorks!

by Paul Leake on May 5, 2007 at 2:01 pm. Reply #

Salisbury and Tewkesbury are not ‘highly marginal’ they are safe Tory seats.

by Anonymous on May 7, 2007 at 12:36 pm. Reply #

Read the tea leaves, smell the coffee, hit yourselves over the head with a large wet fish etc. The Tories had a very good election night, and are now starting to make inroads into the north outside the blue-belt.
Ignoring the spin for Labour it was frankly apalling and they are hoping the “Brown Effect” will reverse their fortune. Somehow I doubt it.
Your you LibDems, frankly it was worse than Labour. With your current policies and leadership you will be brutally squeezed between the Labour core vote and a resurgent Tory party. Your number of MPs could be halved.
You could change leader to the impressive Clegg or the less-impressive and hypocritical Hughne, but Hughne will lose Eastleigh at the next election to the Tories and anyway you will stand accused of not being able to choose a leader for more than a year or so. Kennedy is sadly still an alcoholic so is ruled out and however good he is on TV his credibility is shot.
Your political positioning is all wrong as well. You find yourselves to the left of the Labour party which is a simply disasterous position for your target seats, and the seats you need to hold in the South and South East.
What to do? Given the caveats, change leader. Pursuade MC to resign for the good of the party and put Clegg in. Don’t be pursuaded by the charm of Hughne as he will have his private life picked apart and his hypocrisy will be exposed.
Change your positioning to be more rightwards, to save your current MPs in the South and SE and pray for the best, that Cameron will not be as successful as he seems to be at the moment and the Brown will be awful causing Labour voters to move to the LibDems.
Time for a Change will be a powerful message at the next election and if you don’t act you’ll get the life squeezed out of you.

by anyonebutblair on May 7, 2007 at 2:06 pm. Reply #

Don’t forget Guildford – two net gains against the one net gain made by the “resurgent” Conservative party.

by Anonymous on May 21, 2007 at 12:40 am. Reply #

[…] the Lib Dems lost almost 250 seats and control of four councils in what I described at the time (here and here) as a mixed set of results. The ALDC website will be keeping tally of the results […]

by What will happen in today’s elections? Your thoughts, please… on May 5, 2011 at 6:17 pm. Reply #

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