Four more years

It's on a screen in Charter Hall, it must be official.
It’s on a screen in Charter Hall, it must be official.
As I get older, I’m definitely not as good at recovering from late nights as I used to be, and Thursday was a very late night. By the time I got home from the election count it was almost 7am and I’d only had to walk across Kings Meadow from Leisure World. I don’t envy those who had to drive home after the overnight count in there, nor those who had to be back a few hours later for the Police and Crime Commissioner count. For those of you who weren’t there, you can see the official result by clicking here, but the important part is that I was re-elected with 881 votes, which put me in first place for Castle Ward.

Two days later, though, and my head’s returned enough to normal to start thinking about the next four years, though I have to admit that this wasn’t a scenario I envisaged during the election. Sure, I’d daydreamed about being the one to come top of the poll, but I’d expected that would mean Bill Frame and Jo Hayes would fill the next two spots, not two Tories. I’d like to take this opportunity thank Bill and Jo for all their hard work as councillors for Castle ward over the past few years during which they’ve both accomplished a lot for it, often in the face of some very hostile and personalised opposition. I do have some feelings of guilt at having squeezed them out, but that’s just something that will motivate me to work harder so the work they’ve done won’t go to waste.

My priority is going to be working hard to help the residents of Castle ward, just as it was the last time I represented them as their councillor. I’ve already got meetings filling up my diary, and have been busy reporting problems I spotted during the campaign and in the last couple of days. I am away on holiday soon, but when I’m back from that, I will be back out on the doorsteps again to keep talking to residents and finding out what problems you have and how I and the rest of the Liberal Democrat team can help. I’ve already reactivated and updated my councillor Twitter and Facebook pages, so please follow and like me to keep up with what I’m doing.

Even though I am just one councillor in the ward, there is a team around me, and we’re always looking for more people to join us. We’re always looking for new people to help with campaigning, to come up with ideas for how to improve the local area, the town and the country, or just to donate cashto keep the party running. We’re not a party who get millions of pounds in donations from big business or trade unions – we rely on our members and we’re run by and for our members, right down to every one of us having exactly the same power to make and change party policy.

You don’t have to be a party member to help me out, though. You can help by letting me know what’s going on in your part of the ward or what needs to happen to make things better, and by letting me know if there are any events you’d like me to be at as your councillor. I can’t promise to make it to every one, but I’ll do my best. If you do have some spare time and want to help while getting a bit of exercise, we always need volunteers to help deliver our Focus leaflets around the ward.

One thing the election result has shown me is the utter ridiculousness of our electoral system. In Castle Ward, there were 2442 votes cast for Liberal Democrats and 2414 cast for Tories, yet they got two councillors elected to one of ours. I’m more convinced than ever that England needs to follow the example of Scotland and Northern Ireland and elect councillors using the Single Transferable Vote system. It was interesting to note how many people I spoke to during the campaign expressed a wish to list the various candidates in order of preference, not just have the blunt instrument of crosses in a box. Colchester’s results aren’t even amongst the most ridiculously skewed in the country by the voting system – just look at Manchester, where John Leech is now the sole opposition councillor to 95 Labour councillors or the many tales of rotten boroughs the Electoral Reform Society have collected.

But electoral reform is something for the future, as it’s highly unlikely to be delivered under this Government. For now, the main priority for me is to work hard for the residents of Castle Ward and repay the trust they showed in me by placing me first. If you want to keep up with what I’m doing, then you can follow my councillor account on Twitter, or like my Facebook page where I’ll be doing my best to keep you all updated. I’ll share my councillor email address as soon as I find out what it is!

Once again, I just want to thank everyone who voted for me and everyone who helped to get me elected this week. I’ve now got a lot of work to do to show you your trust in me was well placed.

3 thoughts on “Four more years”

  1. I’m going to be blogging about second places in the Manchester council elections; the figures tell an interesting but uninspiring story, if that’s not a contradiction. They certainly don’t support the argument that a groundswell of Lib Dem support is being suppressed by the electoral system.

    1. That would be the same Manchester Council where Labour have 95 out of 96 seats? Yes, there’s definitely no argument for electoral reform there.

      1. I’ve re-run the voting in Manchester this time round (32 seats, 31 Labour councillors elected and one Lib Dem) using both a simple list system for all 32 seats & a more realistic AMS model. Different systems give slightly different results (single list D’Hondt is marginally better for Labour, a 55/45 AMS system is marginally better for the third-place Greens and worse for the fourth-place Tories), but what happens most of the time is that Labour get 21 seats out of the 32 and the Lib Dems get 4 – then 3 for the Greens and 2 each for the Tories and the Kippers. (The AMS model gave the Greens one of the Tories’ two, but still gave 2 to UKIP.)

        I’ll admit that, looking at the results in individual wards, I hadn’t expected the non-Labour vote to be that strong in aggregate. (The ward results really are dismal for all the other parties – Labour got 60% or more in 22 wards out of 32, and in 18 of them the first runner-up’s vote is less than 30% of *Labour’s* vote.) That said, a council chamber with 63 Labour councillors to 12 LDs, 9 Greens, 6 Tories and 6 Kippers wouldn’t really be any less of a one-party state when it came to getting policies through – to the extent that the city council has policies any more, other than whatever Richard Leese and Tony Lloyd cook up between them.

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