Saturday, March 29, 2008

If you fancy a change in Southampton, the Conservatives are the only game in town...

"I'm an optimist. But I'm an optimist who takes my raincoat"
remark attributed to Harold Wilson

Rain truely stopped play for me today in terms of campaigning for the local elections. Despite getting up early this morning and sorting out all my business related stuff (never easy if you have been working 'till 2am!), I have achieved remarkably little today apart for preparing for tommorow...
One thing the rain did allow me to do however is reflect on the political scene in Southampton. The new Lib-Lab pact are confident that they will remain in control after May's local elections as the Tories have an electoral mountain to climb. To form outright control the Conservatives will need to win between extra 6 and 7 seats in addition to holding all of those they currently represent.
The reason I say between 6 and 7 is that 6 is the number we will need to form an administration in the first year (as we shall have the casting vote of the conservative Mayor after May in the event of a tie) and 7 the year after when the Mayor will probably be Lib-Dem.
Obviously we will look to increase our representation where we currently hold some but not all seats so targets include Swaythling and Sholing (where the Labour leader of the Council is up for election). The smart money seems to be on us holding Millbrook from a Lib-Dem threat (their candidate has just resigned, reportedly in disgust at the Lib-Lab pact) and Bassett. Labour meanwhile must have Coxford on their sights, given they took one of the 3 seats off the Lib-Dems last year. That leaves the Conservatives the largest party but 4 seats short of an overall majority and next year is a 'rest' year as each ward in Southampton has 3 Councillors, one elected per year, each for a four year term with one year fallow...
Hopeless? A reason for pessimism if you are a Conservative? Not at all! The polls have never looked so good from a Conservative perspective since I've been involved. It must terrify Labour that the Tories have not only been consistently ahead for nearly two years, but have also now been scoring 40 per cent or more for the past six months, a feat unmatched by the party since the halcyon days of Thatcherism two decades ago. Although low turnouts can skew results (and Labour has a formidable campaigning organisation via the trade unions and its two taxpayer funded MPs), they are not invulnerable to them.
The Lib-Lab administration is making some big mistakes too- charging people to park outside there house is not exactly a vote winner!
The other issue one has to consider after May is that of defections. Who says the Lib-Lab pact is going to continue to find universal support from its membership after May? Who says that indeed the pact itself will survive?
These are interesting times. One thing is for sure though- if anyone fancies a change to the way the way the council conducts itself in Southampton, the Conservatives are the only game in town.


Post a Comment

<< Home