Friday, 6 May 2011

Guildford borough council results

I got up at half five in the morning on thursday after five hours sleep to spend fifteen hours pounding the streets, knocking on doors and ringing up people to remind them to vote. Some party members in my area did even more and on far less sleep.

Today I attended the count at the Spectrum leisure centre from 9.30am.

Here are the results:

Conservative: 34
Liberal Democrat: 12
Labour: 2

Prior to the elections we had 21 seats and the tories had 27.

The counting lasted for 12 hours.

Today was a very bad day. We went in hoping to gain an additional four seats and left having lost several very good councillors. In Onslow, the ward where I live, we lost Chris Ward to Adrian Chandler for the Conservatives. Like many other losses in these elections this was undeserved. Chris was an excellent councillor and worked hard for all sections of the community. In particular in Onslow I was disappointed by the low student turnout. Chris was, without a doubt, the best friend on the council that students at the university have ever had. It is a crushing blow to lose such a good man and I sincerely hope that he remains in politics despite this defeat.

We failed to gain our target seats and, thanks mainly to a low turnout and a loss of Lib Dem voters, we now have a Tory council with a rock solid majority. The people of Guildford voted and they got the council they deserve. I'm afraid that they might well come to regret it. I imagine that, despite my hopes otherwise, the next four years will not be pleasant - particularly for the most vulnerable in Guildford.

The biggest blow we have suffered is the loss of Cllr Fiona White who was our group leader on the borough council. She lost to a Labour candidate and, though our other two candidates in Westborough were elected, Fiona sadly wasn't.

Fiona is a brilliant woman. I have known her only a short while but I could not be more impressed with her resolve or her determination. She kept a brave face despite everything and it was utterly heartbreaking to see her lose her seat.

I'm not going to let anyone ever tell me again that politicians are out of touch, all the same, lazy or self-serving. If you had been there at the count and witnessed the reactions of our candidates then you'd understand why. For many of them, their first concern on losing was for the people in their seats and that the new councillors would do the job properly. Fiona White was no exception. I pity the man who beat her as Fiona will be watching him every step of the way and I have no doubt that she'll be ready to tear him to pieces if he neglects Westborough for even one second.

Today has been very depressing. Up and down the country excellent councillors have lost their seats due purely to national circumstances. In places like Sheffield and Hull excellent council administrations have undeservedly lost through no fault of their own. I sincerely hope that the new councils and councillors do as good a job as their predecessors did but I fear that they won't.

One final thing I will leave you is that I will never forgive Clegg for this. Not for the Coalition, not for breaking the pledge on tuition fees and  not for losing the referendum but for his failure as a leader to properly present what is happening to minimise the damage. Some losses were inevitable but losses on this scale were entirely preventable. I will never forgive Clegg for putting me in the situation of seeing good men and women, excellent councillors and candidates all, in tears at the stress and the blow of the results.

I'm not going to play up to the media's predictable comments of "mounting pressure for a leadership challenge" (pressure which comes almost entirely from them, I might add). I do not think that Clegg should resign or face a leadership challenge. To pull out of the coalition now would be the most disastrous thing to do - both for the country and the party. And I'm quite sure that all the supposed "contenders" for the leadership have the good sense to see the same.

However, Clegg does not deserve to be leader after 2015. He does not deserve to lead us into the next general election. I don't care whether he jumps or is pushed or is stabbed in the back but Clegg must go in 2015. Even if it means the sacrifice of my own political career, I will not let Clegg lead us into the 2015 general election without doing all I can to stop it.

I'm going to go to bed now and then tomorrow I will get up, go to our AGM and begin planning how to wipe the board with the tories and with Labour at the next council elections. For now though, my legs, eyes and throat are killing me so I'm going to finish this post.

1 comment:

  1. Heartfelt and moving. Not in the same league as natural disasters, but about the personal cost of politics. Been there!

    Where I have a different take is over Clegg. Calls for him to step down may be carried by the media, but actually reflect the direction of travel of very many activists. Just read libdemvoice.

    Clegg chose the terms of engagement for this coalition. Yes it was negotiated. He then directed the priorities, the timing, the unpalatable compromises. Mission creep has done the rest. The sooner we address this the better.

    Wishing you well!


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