Friday, May 02, 2008

How did the Tories do it?


Nick Robinson called it 'the first wow result' while The Daily Echo called it a 'Sensational victory'.
Of the 17 seats up for election, the Conservatives won 15- a remarkable achievement. We also defeated the two heads of the 'political beast' formed to run the council in the form of Labour leader June Bridle (who lost by nearly 700) and lib-dem leader Adrian Vinson (who lost by about 130). In my own ward of Shirley, Conservative Terry Matthews was returned with just under a 800 majority.
So how did we do it and was it a surprise?
Nick Robinson has had a stab at how we did it HERE.
Mr Robinson is on the right lines- we did run on some popular policies such as offering pensioners a 10% rebate on their council tax, offering the public a say before approving or rejecting a 'supercasino' in the city and stopping the gypsy and transit site being built in Swaythling.
We also proposed a 100% council tax rebate for serving 'Special Constables' as a recruitment tool, the strengthening of supplementary planning guidance to protect family housing and a huge project of promoting school sport in conjunction with Solent University. What is fascinating is that Labour and particularly the Lib-Dems didn't really offer any policies to the electorate at all. They refuted charges made by the Conservatives that they planned to introduce charges for permit holders (despite having voted for it in cabinet) and that they had no plans to scrap the weekly refuse collection despite saying on the Lib-Dems website that they want to do so but at no point did they really attempt to outline their vision for the city. I debated with the Lib-Dem councillor Liz Mizon at one hustings and despite speaking for 6 minutes or so, she didn't articulate one single policy- it was all 'we must all work together to make Southampton a nicer place to live' sort of stuff.
Another local issue was the pact between the Lib-Dems and Labour, the so called two-headed beast that was running the city after the short lived coalition ejected the Tories from office in Febuary. People hated it, especially Lib-Dems who dislike Labour and could remember Cllr Bridle's former administration. After all, why vote Lib-Dem if you are just helping to secure a Labour led administration? The feeling on the doorstep was often that the pact was a stitch up, that people had not been consulted. The pact also had an unforeseen advantage that it freed up leading Conservatives to campaign who would have otherwise been running the city and conversely tied up Lib-Dems and Labour Councillors at the Civic Centre when they should have been out pressing the flesh. There is much truth in the adage 'elections are not won at the town hall'. Clearly what the Tory opponents should have done is humiliated them by voting down their budget, forcing them to limp on impotent until May and use it as a campaigning tool- but then hindsight is a wonderful thing!
The national scene did not help them either. Northern Rock, the credit crunch generally, the 10p income tax abolition, food and fuel inflation and even the war(s) came up as reasons not to vote Labour.
The final factor was unquestionably the issue of the premier himself. Time and again residents said how they couldn't empathise with the dour Scot, the ditherer who ran away from calling an election. I don't know if Mr Brown's reputation is recoverable but I am beginning to suspect not...

7 Comments:

Anonymous David Furnell said...

Matt
Unfortunately your analysis is absolutely correct. A grudging well done on a well fought campaign.

Just one thing why is your leader standing at the back of the photo?

5:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

small people at the front!

12:14 am  
Blogger The Liberal Party Soton said...

Matt

Congrats on taking control of the city, it was good to watch as the results came through.

The time is right for our re-launch locally and I look forward to some goo campaigning locally in any elections that may arise.

1:13 am  
Blogger Matt Dean said...

Thanks David.
interesting that the Liberals in Southampton are set for a comeback. I wonder who will be the first defection from the Lib-Dems?

8:07 am  
Anonymous The General said...

Matt,
as a conservative supporter, it was an all round job well done at the local elections, but credit where it's really due....to us. The voters. We employ you, with all due respect. may you continue to serve us with gratitude and dignity. we have chosen you, as electives to represent us. Thankfully, vagrant idiots such as Mr Whitbread (alleged benefit swindler) et all, won nothing. This was a clear reflection of our support for a time of change.
Good Luck.

2:47 pm  
Anonymous Oleg said...

Surely the reason the Tories won so strongly is primarily because everyone is heartily fed up with the so-called Labour government and wanted to give them a good kicking.

Don't get carried away with the idea that the voters like you that much - it'll be your turn next! :o)

7:52 pm  
Blogger The Liberal Party Soton said...

Oleg

Southampton generally bucks the national trend when it comes to local elections.

In 2007 when Labour where losing control of councils throughout the country and lsing cllr's Labour in Southampton where gaining seats.

Credit where credit is due, The local Conservatives run a good campaign and the local electorate wanted change and the tories had the better policies.

It remains to be seen if they act on their pledges but their triumph was not due to the local electorate wanting to give our government a kicking.

10:05 am  

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