10 May 2016

Election Results Summary

So the dust is settling after the local elections in Liverpool. The Greens (10.3%) finished down from 2nd place in 3rd place and we are having to look at why the Lib Dems (16%) managed a mini-resurgence in the city despite having been responsible as part of the coalition, for some appalling cuts to our overall budget. I think Labour were as surprised as we were.

The #libdemfightback as they’ve titled it is being much heralded, but in Liverpool we are the exception to the rule. In Scotland and in the Mayoral Elections in Bristol, London and Salford, where voters had two preferences, the Greens finished ahead of the Lib Dems (noting that in Salford they failed to put up a Mayoral candidate or a single local election candidate).

There is an interesting piece at Lib Dem voice that explains it. Essentially this was a two year strategy involving heavy work to save Richard Kemp’s Church seat in 2015 (otherwise they would have been down to just 1 councillor) with a leafleting strategy in other areas of the city. This was followed by an all out assault on three wards in these elections, and successfully retaking seats from Labour in Woolton and Allerton & Hunts Cross. Where they didn’t win was Mossley Hill, after outrageously misleading voters on their barcharts (you’re shocked?) but more on that after the 2018 election I think.

This doesn't just happen in Liverpool, but is a systematic attempt to mislead voters in their favour. Another example from Manchester here:

The Lib Dems only narrowly held onto 2nd place finishes in Woolton and Allerton & Hunts Cross in the local poll at the 2015 General Election, but if you look at the total of Tory and Lib Dem votes in that election, it exceeded the support for Labour. Careful targeting of postal voters and voters on the marked register as they knocked on 10,000 doors (the campaign slogan) and a heavy squeeze on the Tory voters, has enabled them to win big victories. Whoever developed the strategy should be very pleased with the results, and it will be a hard task for Labour to defend these seats in 2018.

So essentially, it is one of the defining features of Liverpool politics, the absence of an even semi-functional Conservative party that has enabled the Lib Dems to make a comeback in a couple of areas of the city. From the right of centre, the only viable option in Liverpool is the Lib Dems, and I have to say that our appeal to people who are naturally Tory or UKIP voters is very limited.

In the latter respect, we sit to the left of a very centrist Labour party in Liverpool. However, as Greens in cities like Oxford, Norwich and even Bristol discovered in this election, many left of centre voters rallied to back an under fire Corbyn in these local elections. We did not close the gap in Greenbank (although our tallies suggest the Green v Labour vote here in the Mayoral election was much, much closer) but we did hold St Michaels with a whopping 62% of the vote.

In the Mayoral contest, Joe Anderson gained 6% less than the support given to Labour’s local election candidates across the city. This suggests he was less popular than his party. However, he still won a plurality of the votes. So congratulations to him, but I think Labour will need to have a contest for the Metro Mayor candidate and I expect that will be a fiercely fought selection. Richard Kemp finished 2nd, with 21% of the vote, and Tom Crone was 3rd with 10.9%

Richard outperformed the Lib Dems. His profile obviously helped and certainly the “only Labour or the Lib Dems can win here” had some effect, but I think you have to credit the targeting they did in those southern wards as the reason they have regained 2nd place in vote share in the city. I’ll hopefully be retiring the blog (again) but I am intending to once again get back into the heart of the campaign team for Liverpool Greens after two years where for work and family reasons, I’ve been very much an observer.

Our job now is to get ready for the next two elections, for Metro Mayor and the 2018 locals. I also think it will pay to be prepared. Yvette Cooper suggested that an early General Election could be on the cards if the Tories are deprived of an overall majority by the electoral expenses scandal that is being investigated by a number of police forces in different constituencies.

It is important to end on this note. Tom’s 10.9% is the highest vote the Greens have ever polled in a local election across the city and he deserves congratulations after a hard fought campaign. In Scotland we polled 6.6%, and the Mayoral Election results were Salford 8.5%, Bristol 7.8% and London 5.8%. In that context, other cities will look at our result as being impressive, but we are not satisfied and we see the need to improve.

We’ve been between 9 and 11% in each election since 2014, but what we haven’t managed to do is convert that to extra seats. Right now in Liverpool, there are 80 Labour councillors, 4 Greens, 4 Lib Dems and 2 Liberals. The Lib Dems will be expecting to make 3 gains as a minimum in 2018. Our strategy will have to find a way to match or better that.

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