Saturday, February 06, 2010

You Choose

Unless somebody changes the date we are due to have local elections on May 6th. Here’s what two other sites are forecasting for Redbridge.

Indigo Public Affairs
Verdict: Increased Conservative majority
The Conservatives surprisingly lost votes in 2006, having suffered from internal disputes in their council leadership. Since then the Liberal Democrats have gained two seats from Labour after winning over the muslim vote, and two other councillors have defected the same way. An increased Conservative majority is likely as they are now able to present a united party.

Political Betting
Redbridge has been lost by the Conservatives to No Overall Control, following the defection of two councillors. I expect them to regain it next year.

A bit short on detail, so let’s try and fill in the spaces.

When local government was “modernised” in 2000 we had a hung council with a minority Labour administration. The Conservatives regained control in 2002 and held it in 2006. However, internal divisions were evident after the death of Keith Axon, barely a year into leading the council. They briefly lost control in 2004 to a Lab/LibDem coalition when several conservatives were absent from the crucual vote. A third leader was voted in and regained the Council but he stood down in 2006. Whence we got a fourth leader who was replaced in 2009. This has seemed to bring matters to a head with 4 conservatives leaving the party and sitting as Independents. We now have a minority Conservative administration with the agreement of the LibDems.

Since 2006 there have been 4 by elections. Bridge was retained by the Conservatives but the BNP did well fresh from the election of their only councillor in Hainault. Labour lost out to the LibDems in Clementswood and Valentines. The LibDems also did well in Wanstead but the Conservatives held on. There have also been 2 defections from Labour to LibDem and one from Labour to Conservative. If my maths are correct the LibDems are now one seat short of being the official opposition.

So, the local trend seems to be a swing from Labour to LibDem especially in the south of the borough and the national picture indicates that Labour are in for a hard time. However, in the north and west of the Borough it is difficult to see the Conservatives losing any of their strongholds. So, it’s a pretty safe bet that they will at least be the largest party if not having a small majority. And it is quite likely that the LibDems will be the official opposition.

The interesting bit will be how the smaller parties fare and what impact they have on the vote spread. The BNP could go either way. The lone councillor has had a low profile boroughwide but not necessarily locally. They will also be concentrating their resources next door in Barking and could end up with none or a couple more depending upon the mood of the electorate. Difficult one to predict that. UKIP are not strong here in Redbridge. Only one candidate last time out who came behind the Green. The Euros are their bag. So to the Greens. They did well in Wanstead in 2006 but not so well in the by election. Voters are more likely to chuck one vote to a smaller party when they’ve got 3 to use. Then we have an unpredictable Maverick down in Chadwell challenging the LibDems and possibly an ex-Labour councillor and local activist standing in Seven Kings. The Greens will no doubt be fielding candidates elsewhere but these are the ones to watch. Of course we don’t as yet know what other Mavericks will be standing and that could give the B21 swingometer a severe dose of the wobbles.

Anyway I have invited the leaders/spokesman of those six political parties to do a blog interview with each being asked the same set of questions. Only UKIP have not responded and I am looking to publish end of February. Do come back for a peek.


  1. Nick Hayes (Fullwell Ward)6:42 pm, February 06, 2010

    There was also a by-election in July 2008 in Cranbrook ward at which the Conservative candidate (Cllr Chaudhary) won by a handsome margin.

  2. One interesting 'spanner in the works' , in Redbridge and other London Boroughs, is the possible emergence of independent candidates standing on specific local issues.

    The "established" political parties may not have it all their own way, as voters are perhaps more inclined than hitherto to 'vote local'.

  3. Indeed so, Jawal1. There are always local issues in wards that have boundaries with other local authorities. In particular, Bridge, Fairlop, Hainault and Monkhams have boundaries not only with Epping Forest District, but also with the Essex County Council area (or, if you prefer, IBM land).

    At least one of those wards might see an independent candidate with a policy platform based very much on cross-boundary issues.

  4. Of course, in line with current Climate Science thinking, now that I have [deliberately?] omitted one vital piece of information from this blog, readers are forced to dismiss the whole thing in its entirety. I must have a vested interest in downplaying the Tories and my agenda is to turn the clock back 200 years, bring back witchcraft and ducking stools, outlaw personal hygiene and destroy western civilisation. How can you trust whatever I say again?

  5. Nick Hayes (Fullwell Ward)3:13 pm, February 09, 2010

    Alan - I wasn't trying to criticise you or your analysis (although you will not be surprised to learn that I am not in complete agreement with it). I was merely pointing out that there was another by-election during the relevant period and what the result was.

  6. I know Nick. I was having a pop at the Climate science debate.

  7. The increased turnout - assuming the general election is held on the same day as the locals - is the great imponderable.

    In Redbridge I wouldn't venture to make a forecast until I see the Statement of Persons Nominated, as the intervention of minor party candidates could tip the scale in one or two wards. In Hainault, the BNP won one seat last time after fielding only a single candidate. This time I'm sure they will field three, and might conceivably win all of them (unless increased turnout sinks them). The Conservative vote borough-wide should still be around 40% or a bit more, but it isn't optimally distributed from their point of view. However, the advance of the Liberal Democrats at the expense of Labour could help them in one or two wards.