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