A huge thank you to everyone who voted for me on Thursday. I won my seat with 573 votes, the Labour candidate taking 85 votes and the Liberal Democrats 78. I will now do my level best to repay the trust put in me over the coming 4 years. I will work for everyone in my ward, whether they voted for me, against me or stayed at home.
And looking at the wider picture, the biggest story of Thursday is how many people did not bother to vote. The weather did not help, but there’s no doubt that the public as a whole don’t see the point of voting in local elections. I’m hoping that Conservative plans to transfer more power to local government will make people feel that there really is something worth getting out of the house for. It’s also clear that political parties in general need to do more to engage with the electorate and persuade them to use their vote.
Looking back to my last post it’s pretty obvious that no-one ought to hire me as a political pundit. All of my predictions turned out to be wrong. We came nowhere near to upsetting the Lib Dems in either Claygate or Weybridge North, where our share of the vote fell significantly. The Lib Dems also re-captured Long Ditton, but only by 28 votes in the closest contest of the night. We lost Walton Central to the Residents’ Association by over 200 votes and were upset in Hersham North by 68 votes. We can point to the fact that the common denominator of those contests was the fact that in each of them our councillor was not standing again, but ultimately there is no way of spinning those three results in a positive way.
However I’m convinced that we lost these seats because of the national situation and the fact we were unable to field a sitting councillor. Our track record as the administration is excellent and we still have a majority of 3 which I hope and expect will be 4 after the Esher election is completed next month. Neither of our main opposition parties were able to offer any coherent alternative vision or set of policies for Elmbridge. The Residents as usual managed to combine suggestions that we were the developers’ friends with their usual sanctimonious claim that so-called independants are in some way more open-minded and more likely to look after their local area’s interests than the Conservatives. We as the Administration have to consider the interests of Elmbridge as a whole in a responsible manner. And anyone who wants to know what a whipped vote looks like need only look at the voting by the RAs at the last council meeting as they tied themselves up in knots trying to oppose our proposals to reduce councillor numbers without leaving themselves open to the charge that they are the party of more politicians.