During the last two years I have done very little direct political campaigning. For many people who will have met me over the years, this would seem very odd considering how driven I was about fighting and winning elections. But for me, my overriding priority in the last two years has been my family and my job. So it is something of a relief to know that you can step back from something and, if you have done the right amount of preparation and laid the foundations correctly, things will not collapse as soon as you leave someone else to do the things you used to do.
So it was a real pleasure last night to get a phone call from Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, to tell me that my legacy lives on in Fakenham and to thank me for getting Fakenham in to such a good state for the Lib Dems. I was, for four years, a district councillor in Fakenham, and during the period of my political involvement in the town we swept the board politically. So naturally yesterday my first reaction was to check the result from Fakenham, and it was really pleasing to see David Callaby re-elected as County Councillor with an increased share of the vote and an increased majority.
As for the County elections, I naturally looked at North Norfolk (I was Vice Chairman of North Norfolk Lib Dems) and it was great to see in North Norfolk a net gain for the Lib Dems of one seat (and a net loss for the Tories) and also an increase in the Lib Dem vote of about 4% to nearly 46%. Across Norfolk, mixed results. Norwich pretty much reflected what the Lib Dems did last year. I hyad a little smile when I saw Labour had held university ward. The Labour Councillor there is a friend of mine and despite my political allegiances it is nice to see that good people can buck the national trend.
As for South Norfolk, it is a real wake up call for the Lib Dems there. They have some wonderful campaigners and activists there, but they urgently need to reassess their strategy and perhaps take on board lessons of other Lib Dem constituencies in similar demographic areas (South Suffolk and South Cambridgeshire stand out as similar seats but in those seats the Lib Dems had really good County results).
So overall, wearing my North Norfolk hat, a good day. Thinking about Broadland, bigger majorities in their held seats and a near miss, Elsewhere though, mixed. But the Lib Dems started with 13 councillors and finish with the same amount. At the very highest water line for the Tories, it certainly provides lots of scope for the Lib Dems to make progress in four years time.