Election Reflections – 2

My earlier blog focussed on Conservative holds and losses.  This one looks at the other parties.

imageThere has never been much love lost between Labour and the Liberals and I remember well the Labour fury when the Liberals just pipped them at the 2009 elections, taking 10 seats to the Labour 9 and depriving Labour of the status and allowances of the official Opposition.

Liz Brighouse will be sipping good socialist champagne at the prospect of having pipped the Liberals and becoming the Leader of the Opposition.

Labour must be particularly pleased with the Banbury result which seems to have been spearheaded and bank rolled by Terry Davis an ex-MEP and, until recently, Chief Executive of the Council of Europe.  Now living in Adderbury he seems to have been the focus of the Labour resurgence in the north and to have brought some discipline and organisation to their campaigning.  In the last council, the Labour group was wholly drawn from Oxford City.  In the new council they can and no doubt will point out that they now represent Banbury and a part of Witney.

The Labour leader, Lady Liz Brighouse is probably harbouring a small regret.  It is no secret that there was no love lost between Lady Liz and the Liberal Roz Smith with whom she shared the two-member Division of Barton & Churchill.  Lady Liz is now safely esconced in Churchill & Lye Valley while Roz Smith is in Headington & Quarry.  Although I suspect Lady Liz would have much preferred Roz Smith to have come second or third she does have the consolation of not sharing a Division with her!

As for the Liberals, they have lost their position and allowances as the official Opposition but they have won back some of the seats they lost in 2009. They have a new member in Abingdon East and the formidable Neil Fawcett in Abingdon South.  Bob Johnson has bounced back in Kennington after Arash Fatemian had ousted him in 2009.  Professor John Howson has been known as an educational expert for a long time but most of us knew him as a closet Liberal and he may add some much-needed intellectual fire power. Richard Webber  squeaked home in Sutton Courtenay & Marcham to deny the Conservatives overall control of the county council.

The Greens remain at two seats but bring two new faces.  Larry Sanders, a US lawyer and well to the left of Labour seems to have been de-selected while the car driving Chip Sherwood has signed up for the Conservatives. In their place are David Williams, representing Iffley Fields & St Mary’s. He used to be a Labour Oxford City councillor but resigned over “illegal wars, helping the rich get richer and starting privatising the NHS”.  I suspect he may prove a likely replacement for the hard left Larry Sanders!    The other Green is Sam Coates for University Parks Division.  He works for a local charity supporting students on global justice issues.  I say no more…..

Now we turn to the interesting case of the Independents.  Lynda Atkins is back for Wallingford and hardly a surprise.  We have two ex-Labour councillors, Les Sibley and Neville Harris.  They both seem to have fallen out with their local party and have succeeded where few political defectors do.  Finally, there is the interesting case of the Benson & Cholsey Division.  Tony Crabbe was the county councillor in the last council and stood down.  Peter Skolar was county councillor for one of the old Henley Divisions. He was not selected for the Henley Division this time, possibly due to his annual absence for two months on a cruise.  He was then selected for Benson & Cholsey but trounced by Mark Gray, an Independent and a seasoned campaigner.

What of UKIP?  Did they come near to winning a seat? Not very often; they generally trailed well behind in second or third place.  Their best performance was in Witney South & Central where they came second just 10 votes behind the winning Labour candidate and pushing the Conservative into third place.  In Henley where the Conservative, David Nimmo Smith, polled 912, he was closely followed by Henley Residents Group with 789 and UKIP with 775.  Even more interesting, the UKIP candidate was Ken Arlett whom I remember was a HRG councillor not so long ago!  So, no  seats for UKIP in Oxfordshire despite averaging 16% of the votes – the same as the Liberals.  All UKIP managed was to hand a lot  of Conservative Divisions to Labour.

About Keith R Mitchell CBE

Qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1967. Pursued a successful career in financial training and publishing until selling his interests in 1990. Elected a County Councillor for the Bloxham Division in 1989. Leader of Oxfordshire County Council 5 November 2001 to 15 May 2012. Chairman of the South East England Regional Planning Committee July 2002 to July 2005. Chairman of the South East England Regional Assembly July 2005 to July 2008. In HM the Queen’s 2007 Birthday Honours, appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in recognition of services to local government.
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3 Responses to Election Reflections – 2

  1. TJ Magee says:

    Mr Mitchell needs to revise his comments if he is not to suffer a hugely embarrassing public rebuttal of the above misinformation on the Rt Hon Terry Davies. He was not an MEP. His position was as Secretary General of the Council of Europe. There is no vast wealth derived from this position .The UK is one of 48 (?) member states totally separate from the European Union. Incidentally, the only state not in the Council of Europe is Belarus – a notorious dictatorship bereft of any semblance of Human Rights. So those who wish to join them are welcome to them and may feel more comfortable with them.

    The resurgent Labour Party in Banbury was not bankrolled by Rt Hon Terry Davies. The results in the local elections were achieved by a determined campaign of knocking on doors and leafletting in the target seats in all weathers. Fund raising was highly successful with several national figures coming down to Adderbury and Bloxham to deliver morale boosting after-dinner addresses at the many (self funding) suppers for the tireless campaign workers.

    A retraction would be in order with perhaps a personal apology to Mr Davies. Of course this could have been avoided following a minimum amount of research.

    • I am waiting for Mr Davis to explain why the Wikipedia entry which describes him as a Labour MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill from 1983 to to 2004 is wrong and to confirm that he receives no pension from the UK Parliament or the Council of Europe. If he respond on either issue, I will be happy to publish it.

  2. Ian Reissmann says:

    Keith Mitchell complains that UKIP fighting these elections and scoring 16% but no seats has just handed seats to Labour. He may be right – it does seem wrong that this should be the effect of UKIP. Maybe we need to modify First Past The Post to a system which leads to the results reflectign better voters’ intentions. However I see KM is opposed to AV or other proportional systems favouring FPTP. Maybe he should reconsider this ?

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