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Has Anything Really Changed? – A Look Back On Last Week’s Local Election Results

Published on: 9 May, 2013
Updated on: 13 May, 2013
SCC sign Surrey County Council

SCC sign at County Hall Kingston

By Martin Giles

So a week after the council elections are over what has changed in our local political scene? Not much, is the simple answer but there are some observations to be made.

Even fewer of us than normal, just 30% in the Guildford district, bothered to vote and most probably followed the trend of voting in accordance with their view of the national political parties.

Only one seat in Guildford district changed hands and that, as the winning UKIP candidate graciously conceded, was purely because of a slip up by the Conservatives, who failed to properly nominate their candidate.

George Johnson will now represent Shalford and it will be interesting to see how a UKIP councillor performs and whether it will make any significant difference.

Opinion Logo 2Cllr Johnson has said that he intends to continue his predecessor, Simon Gimson’s, initiatives in many areas, so major changes to Shalford issues seem unlikely. After all, Shalford division will not be able to leave the EU on their own or have their own immigration policy, however much some residents might wish it.

UKIP, across Surrey, attracted 22% of the popular vote but under the first past the post system this translated to just three County Council seats, five fewer than the LibDems who, county wide, obtained nearly 7% less of the popular vote.

Overall County Council election result – of the total 81 divisions: 58 are Conservative, 9 Liberal Democrats, 9 Residents’ Associations/Independents, 3 UKIP, 1 Labour and 1 The Green Party.

Candidates like to think that their individual efforts and hard work, and most of them do work hard for the residents in their wards and divisions, count for something.

Certainly this could explain the resilience of the Liberal Democrat percentages in the Guildford district which averaged about 27%, the same percentage they obtained in 2009. Nationally their percentage share dipped from 28% in 2009 to just 14%, and across Surrey, as a whole, their percentage share was only 16%.

The Lib Dem dip is already causing further questioning within their party of their decision to enter coalition government with the Conservatives. But it seems too late now. The damage is done. However unfairly, they are hated by some of their own members, and many floating voters, for the compromises they have made. Even some Tories can be heard blaming Lib Dems for diluting Conservative policies, regardless of the fact that they failed to obtain an overall majority in 2010.

But perhaps the unusually high share of the vote for Lib Dems in the Guildford District is a sign that voters are actually taking note of what their councillors do. This will not apply just to the Lib Dems of course, no doubt hard working Conservative councillors also attract a certain following who vote regardless of party allegiance.

This is a good thing. Local elections should not be opinion polls for national politics. Local issues are important too and should be centre stage when voters consider their options.

Anyway, as a look at the political map shows, Surrey and Guildford district remains predominantly ‘true blue’. It is interesting though that, this time, less than 40% of Guildford and Surrey voters supported them.

SCC Political map post 2013 election

Surrey County Council political map post 2013 election (Source SCC). Click on the map to link to interactive version on SCC website.

See also County Council Elections – Guildford District – Winners’ Interviews & Results

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Responses to Has Anything Really Changed? – A Look Back On Last Week’s Local Election Results

  1. Ngaire Wadman Reply

    May 13, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    While I agree totally that councillors should primarily represent the concerns of their areas, it has been noted in previous years that Surrey County Council, operating as a Tory bloc, without any form of cohesive opposition group, has made spending decisions that could be called unwise at best, and downright daft at worst.

    Perhaps a polite and determined opposition group will encourage the council to look more closely at its spending patterns and be less ‘unwise’ in the spending of taxpayers’ money.

    Ngaire Wadman was the UKIP candidate for Guildford South East at the recent County Council elections.

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