Sunday, January 16

Lib Dem tactics revealed

A leaked note from Islington Liberal Democrats has been published on LabourList

Tactics discussed by the group included:

  • 'Our weapons: creating confusion and division’ ‘We are not running the council, it is not our problem – it’s theirs’
  • ‘Set traps and ambushes for Labour’
  • ‘Those cuts: It’s the Labour Party’s fault, it’s the Labour Party’s fault, it’s the Labour Party’s fault. And just in case you didn’t get it: It’s the Labour Party’s fault.’
  • ‘Pick an unpopular cut and champion it’
  • ‘Don’t get caught defending the Tories’
  • ‘Stay at ward events as long as possible to meet as many residents as possible – and annoy Labour’
  • ‘Use our links with Labour’s backbenchers to create trouble for their leadership.’
  • ‘Exploit divisions in the Labour group’
  • ‘Use issues like the Fairness Commission recommendations to drive a wedge between Labour’s wealthier supporters and Labour councillors’

Sunday, June 6

Nick Palmer explains Labour's strategy behind the election in Broxtowe

"This is a really good time to be recruiting new members – indeed, people seem to be recruiting themselves. In Broxtowe alone, we’ve had a couple of dozen newcomers who signed up entirely spontaneously after the election. People who left us a while back are putting Iraq behind them, dismayed by the change of government and seeing us as the only anti-Tory game in town.

That’s great – a core of party activists is absolutely essential. But we also need a strategy for involving people who don’t, for whatever reason, want to join. Being a member of a political party is unfashionable, seen by many as rather like joining the Jehovah’s Witnesses: it doesn’t make you a bad person, but many people think it’s not very cool. We can deplore that but we need to recognise it. And it’s not just us – Tory membership has been falling, even in the year up to the election that they expected to win.

I was MP for Broxtowe from 1997 until three weeks ago. Broxtowe, a mixture of towns and villages west of Nottingham, is traditional Tory territory and the demographics are changing against us, with more and more prosperous commuter housing. In 1992, the last close-run General Election, they won it by a 14% (10,000 votes) margin. This year, they won it by just 0.7% (389 votes), with a swing since 2005 of 2.6%, one of the lowest in England. We lost, but seemingly we’ve still been doing something right."

Read the full article at Labour Uncut

Tuesday, May 25

A new vision for Broxtowe

In one of his first actions as Leader of Broxtowe Council David Watts has published a ten year strategy for the development of Broxtowe. The new Broxtowe Borough Sustainable Community Strategy sets out its vision for Broxtowe and aims to co-ordinate the public, private and voluntary sector initiatives within the Borough.

It trumpets past achievements: crime is down 30% in 3 years, recycling up 8% in 5 years and significant improvements made to to the town centres of Beeston, Eastwood, Kimberley and Stapleford.

The report identifies key challenges for the next decade. Removing the fear of crime is one, unemployment is another - with unemployment rates high in Eastwood, Stapleford and Chilwell - as is promoting healthy living and enhancing community race relations.

David promises an annual report to record progress in each of these key areas and calls on the community to get behind these initiatives. The report on 'A Better Broxtowe can be read in full here

Friday, May 14

Lib-Dems swap leadership roles on Broxtowe Council

On the day when the first coalition cabinet met in Downing Street, the two senior members of the local Liberal Democrat party exchanged roles on Broxtowe Council.

Michael Rich, who has been leader of the Council in a coalition with Labour since 2007, has been replaced by David Watts, last week’s unsuccessful parliamentary candidate for the Lib-Dems. Watts previously held the key job of chair of Development Control, and that now goes to .... Michael Rich.

Thursday, May 13

Broxtowe election bucks national voting trend

Although Broxtowe is now a highly marginal constituency this is counter to the national trend in which voter disengagement is leading to more and more safe seats.

This is the view of John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde. He believes the fall in the number of mariginal seats following last weeks general election combined a with decline in the two-party vote all points to a problem of 'voter disengagement'.

In a presentation at the Institute for Public Policy Research this afternoon, he outlined many of the failings of the present first past the post system. Among the most instrucitve findings was the long-term decline of the two and even three-party vote; last week’s election saw the proportion of votes for others in Great Britain alone rising to 10 per cent – an all-time record.

The number of marginal seats (see graph below) has halved since the mid-50s, down from 166 to 86, with the number of Lib Dem seats still relatively high, in spite of the system, 45 seats higher than the post-war mean prior to 1997, and the combined Labour+Conservative vote at levels not seen since the 1920s.

Hat tip: Left Foot Forward

Monday, May 10

Broxtowe Labour Leader says national Labour/ Lib Dem coalition could work

The Labour group’s leader on the Borough Council, veteran Councillor Milan Radulovic, thinks a national Labour/Lib Dem coalition is perfectly possible.  He pointed to the long-standing successful power-sharing agreement on the local council as a model of what could happen nationally.  Interviewed by the BBC, he said “it’s a bit like a marriage, requiring a lot of meetings, some understanding, and some sympathy.” 

Source:  BBC News

Sunday, May 9

Broxtowe 2010 to continue...

Many thanks to all of you who have left positive comments or emailed your views on the election in Broxtowe. Interest in this blog has been significant and I've been encouraged to continue to reflect on political developments here.

Broxtowe is indeed an interesting (and now highly marginal) constituency.The local council is run by a working coalition of Labour and Lib Dem councillors. There is to be an election next year which is certain to change the current political status quo.

The county council elections last year saw the Conservatives gain power. Their cost cutting agenda is proving very controversial as they seek to save £88m over the next three years. They've already announced 1,500 job cuts and plan to sell off 13 care homes across the county.

The next 12 months are going to be a particularly difficult period nationally. And Broxtowe is going through its own very difficult times. I hope to shed some light on the characters and policies that will determine just how prosperous (or otherwise) Broxtowe will become.

Final analysis of the Broxtowe election

So what are we to make of Labour's narrow defeat in Broxtowe? First, let's take a look at how the minority parties performed.

The Green Party saw their share of the vote drop in Broxtowe to 0.8%, a fall of 1.1%. Nationally the Greens achieved 1% of the vote so Broxtowe underperformed for them.

The UKIP share of the vote nationally reached 3.1%. In Broxtowe, Chris Cobb increased the his slice of the pie by 0.8% to 2.3%. The BNP vote meanwhile increased to 1,422- this was up 2.7% - the highest of all the minority parties.

For all their talk of Broxtowe being a 3 horse race the Liberal Democrats improved their share of the vote by just 0.8% to just 8,907 votes (16.9%). This was no where near even the 20% goal that they had privately set themselves.

Despite losing, the stats showed that Nick Palmer for Labour did remarkably well. He lost by just 389 votes - or 0.7% of the total vote. The swing to the Conservatives in Broxtowe was 1.8%. Compare that to the national swing of 3.8% to the Tories. Even in other Nottinghamshire seats the swing against Labour was much more significant than it was in Broxtowe.

Nick can be justly proud of the fight he put up in Broxtowe. Given that the swing to the Lib Dems is almost exactly that which would have kept Nick Palmer in power, my reading is that had more of the Lib Dems lent Labour their support Labour would have retained this seat.

As Nick himself put it: "the effect here (in Broxtowe) has been to replace a longstanding supporter of electoral reform with a firm opponent, and I wonder if in retrospect they still feel it was worth it."

Friday, May 7

The moment the Conservatives took Broxtowe

1 - Key images from the count in Broxtowe

Ruth Hyde, Broxtowe's Chief Exec declaring the results. She handled what was a very delicately balanced count extremely competently and professionally, maintaining good communications with the candidates and their agents at all times.

2 - Key images from the count in Broxtowe

The piles of votes for Nick and Anna remained level throughout the count.

3 - Key images from the count in Broxtowe

Nick looks crestfallen just before the official announcement is made.

The election results in Nottingham - UPDATED

Rushcliffe (Ken Clarke, Con) CON HOLD
Nottingham North (Graham Allen, Lab) LAB HOLD
Mansfield (Alan Meale, Lab) LAB HOLD
Bassetlaw (John Mann, Lab) LAB HOLD
Ashfield (Geoff Hoon [ret], Lab) LABOUR HOLD
Erewash (Liz Blackman [ret], Lab) CON GAIN
Nottingham South (Alan Simpson [ret], Lab) LAB HOLD
Nottingham East (John Heppell [ret], Lab) LAB HOLD
Newark (Patrick Mercer, Con) CON HOLD
Sherwood (Paddy Tipping [ret], Lab) CON GAIN
Amber Valley (Judy Mallaber, Lab) CON GAIN
Gedling (Vernon Coaker, Lab) LAB HOLD
Broxtowe (Nick Palmer, Lab), CON GAIN

Soubry wins for Tories in Broxtowe

The result, declared at 2:55 am this morning, was

Cobb [UKIP] 1194 [2.3%]
Mitchell [Green] 423 [0.8%]
Palmer [Lab] 20196 [38.3%]
Shore [BNP] 1422 [2.7%]
Soubry [Cons] 20585 [39.0%]
Watts [Lib-Dem] 8907 [16.9%]

The Conservatives' narrow majority after two recounts, is 389, i.e. 0.7%!

Nick was very gracious in defeat. Anna acknowledged Nick's dedication to representing all sides in Broxtowe. Where was the Lib Dem vote? All talk of a three horse race had disappeared  after 20 minutes into the count. More Lib Dem support for a progressive alliance with Labour would have kept the Tories out.

Tories poised to take Broxtowe

Labour is expected to lose Broxtowe by approx 330 votes. A second recount is now underway as another 73 votes for Anna Soubry were discovered. Black mood among Labour camp. Several are close to tears. One more day of campaigning might have swung it the other way. One bigger push on postal votes. One more appeal to Lib Dem supporters...

Broxtowe count well underway

There's a busy and earnest atmosphere here at the Pearson Centre. Council officials are working studiously first to count the ballot papers then to count the votes for each candidate. Initial impressions are that the Lib Dem surge has vanished in Broxtowe. Watts will come a poor third. The three horse race the Lib Dems talked up was just hot air.

Second, the Palmer - Soubry vote is pretty even. Yet my count monitoring has been of mainly Tory and Lib Dem strongholds. So if Nick's vote is holding up in those areas dare we start believing that Labour just might hold Broxtowe?

Thursday, May 6

High turn-out expected in Broxtowe

What will the turn-out be today?

Democracy in some developing nations is so precious that voters queue for hours to cast their ballot. This shows what happened in Johannesburg last year.

Let's hope that "abstainers" in Broxtowe will be well below previous elections. The turn out in Broxtowe in 2005 was 68.6%. My prediction is the turn out will exceed 70%.

Picture source: Daily Telegraph

Who's in charge at the count in Broxtowe?

Ruth Hyde, Broxtowe Borough Council's Chief Executive is the returning officer in charge of the count this evening. She has spent most of her career in local government having previously worked for Bedfordshire County and Borough Councils, Charnwood council before her first chief exec appointment at Oadby and Wigstan council. She was made an OBE in 2004 and joined Broxtowe in 2006. She lives in Wymeswold with husband Michael and her two Siamese cats.

For this election Ruth has moved the count from Chilwell Olympia to the Pearson Centre in Beeston. Shortly after 10.00pm ballot boxes from over 50 polling stations in Broxtowe will arrive there. The boxes will be opened and the total number of ballot papers inside them will be checked against the total issued during the day. Once the totals have been verified the count will start. Instead of one long continuous count there will be 8 mini counts tonight.

Ruth's team will have done a sterling job with many of her staff having been on duty since the polls opened at 7.00am. Let's hope it's not so close that a recount is needed.

Brisk voting in Broxtowe this morning

There was a steady stream of voters in Beeston this morning at the polling station at the Catholich Church Hall on Foster Avenue. But where were the Tory tellers collecting polling numbers? Either they're so confident of their vote they are not going to bother with the traditional knocking up of voters this evening. Or their supporters are a little thin on the ground. This southern part of the Broxtowe constituency is where the Tories need to be working hardest to boost their vote.

Rudiments of electioneering: 6 Get in the votes

Method: Show your face at the polling stations.
Take the polling numbers of the voters.
Later, knock up any supporters who have not voted.
Verdict: A useful final reminder to voters as to which parties have serious support.

NB Your editors were the only ones up early to take numbers at their local polling station this morning.