Saturday, 11 September 2010

Labour on the Up in Norwich and Exeter

In an unusually frantic night of by-elections Labour came out as the clear winners, gaining seats on two City Councils holding deferred elections from May. In Norwich the Greens were hoping to give themselves a platform to take control of the Norfolk city next May, but although they didn't perform badly Labour's return to form looks set to thwart them. And in Exeter (Devon) Labour were again the biggest winners, taking two seats of the Conservatives. The Tories offset these losses by gained a seat each off The Liberal Party and the Liberal Democrats. Indeed it was the Lib Dems who had a night to forget as their vote slumped in almost all of the wards in the two cities.

We'll begin with Norwich were Labour fought back in a city where they've lost both Parliamentary seats since the Greens came out on top in last year's European Parliament elections. Another poor night for Labour would have seen the Green Party, whose grouping in Norwich are led by their national Deputy leader Adrian Ramsay, leapfrog them to become the largest group. Although the Greens had a far from disappointing night they were overshadowed by a timely return to form for the Reds. Labour easily held the 6 seats they were defending and managed to gain the Bowthorpe ward off the Tories. They now hold 16 of the 39 seats on the Council and will be looking to next May, when a third of the Council will again be up for election, to try and gain control of Norwich.

The night didn't go that badly for the Greens though. They also easily held their four seats and gained Thorpe Hamlet from the Liberal Democrats. In addition, they seem to have cemented their position as the main challengers in Sewell and they are turning Lakenham into a three way marginal. The Greens in Norwich also have a slight advantage over their opponents in that their vote is less likely to be affected by national issues. Next year Labour will have a new leader, and will probably be fighting for a change in the voting system, which could mix things up yet again. As for the other two parties they appear to be getting pushed out by the two leading local parties. The Conservatives had been pushed back to just two wards as it is and both now look at threat from a resurgent Labour. And the Lib Dems only look likely to win in Eaton at the moment. Two years of coalition Government nationally could lead to 36 of the 39 seats in Norwich being shared between the Greens and Labour.

In Exeter, the Liberal Democrats saw their vote share drop dramatically as their hopes of becoming the largest group disappeared rapidly. If they'd held their seats and gained Exwick then they could have overtaken Labour on this highly competitive Council. Alas, they were comprehensively beaten by Labour in Exwick and lost Duryard to the Conservatives. They'll need an upturn in fortunes to prevent being pushed back into just a few wards in the city. In contrast, Labour's strong performance has given them a shot of taking control of the Council next May. Their two gains, both from the Conservatives, have left them with 15 of the 40 seats. Although only one of these wards has a seat up for grabs next year Labour only just missed out on taking the Heavitree ward. Seemingly a solid Liberal seat the two big parties pushed the smaller into third place, with the Conservatives just piping Labour. The Conservatives are perhaps a little aggrieved to have lost two Councillors in this round as their vote held up well. In fact, they lost the Pinhoe ward to Labour despite their vote share increasing. Both the Tories and the Liberal Democrats are battling it out for second place with 11 Councillors each.

They other by-elections on Thursday provided some interesting results. I'll deal with them tomorrow!


Post a Comment