Local and regional elections 2012
Voter turnout was fairly low (38%) but there is no disguising the disappointment of the result which saw our candidate Abigail Lock pick up 14% of the vote. In the London mayor poll, Brian Paddick came fourth with just over 4% and the incumbent Tory mayor Boris Johnson was re-elected.
Here is the full result:
Steve O’Connell* Conservative 60,152 (39.11%)
Louisa Woodley Labour 50,734 (32.98%)
Abigail Lock Liberal Democrat 21,889 (14.23%)
Winston McKenzie UK Independence Party 10,757 (6.99%)
Gordon Ross Green 10,287 (6.69%)
Turnout: 38.45% (change: -6.71%)
Steve O’Connell C 76,477 (44.08%)
Shafi Khan Lab 33,812 (19.49%)
Abigail Lock LD 32,335 (18.64%)
David Pickles UKIP 9,440 (5.44%)
Shasha Khan Green 8,969 (5.17%)
David Campanale CPA 6,910 (3.98%)
Richard Castle Eng Dem 4,186 (2.41%)
Zana Hussain Left List 1,361 (0.78%)
Canvassing in Sutton North, it was clear Johnson had significant support or at least was benefiting from the unpopularity of Labour’s Ken Livingstone.
On the plus side, nationally the Lib Dems maintained their share of the vote (16%) in local elections compared to 2011. The party lost over 300 councillors (less than the Conservative’s loss) however it is clear that both coalition parties are feeling discontent from voters, not just the Lib Dems.
However there were grounds for optimism. The Lib Dems only lost control of one council and defied media predictions of a wipeout. In fact we have 3,000 councillors, one for every two Labour and three Conservative councillors, so it is clear we are still a force to be reckoned with at local level.
We actually performed better when facing Conservative opposition and retained control of all six councils we were defending: Portsmouth , Cheltenham, Cambridge , Eastleigh, Three Rivers and Watford. We also won seven seats on Hull’s council chamber.
Generally speaking, the Lib Dems faired worse when it was a straight fight with Labour. In those seats people wanting to express frustrations against the governing party could only do so by voting against the Lib Dems.
These results have the hallmark of ‘midterm blues’ – indeed Tony Blair’s Labour lost 2,000 councillors during his first term in office but still went on to record another clear general election victory. So who knows what the future holds?
In London, I felt the Lib Dems ran a positive campaign with a stronger set of policies and very good performances by Paddick at televised hustings. The final result does not reflect that. That’s politics, I guess. But clearly the party will need to do some soul-searching as we look forward to the 2014 local elections in London.