On 5th May it has been widely predicted that the Conservative Party will lose a large number of council seats. That may well be true – we are defending a big total run up in the years when we were in opposition. Opposition parties do well in council elections as the governing party is punished for perceived failings at national level. Of course it shouldn’t be like this – local elections should be fought and decided on local issues. But as successive governments have centralised power in Whitehall the public’s response is hardly surprising.
I believe that any falling away in the Conservative vote will not affect the make-up of Elmbridge BC. We have a good record to be proud of – council tax frozen for 4 of the last 5 years and local services protected. Second, our main rivals locally are unlikely to benefit. The Liberal Democrats will suffer at least as badly as we do and are in no position to benefit. The Walton Society is in meltdown – unable even to field a candidate in 2 of the Walton seats.
I would however appeal to all voters to think carefully about these elections and resist the temptation to vote on national issues. The present Government is determined to reverse the centralising tendency and I very much hope that this will mean that local elections have a real local resonance, and cease to be used as referendums on Westminster politics. And whilst we are on referendums, a “No” vote to AV would be very welcome!