It would be easy to put this down to poor campaigns, poor leaflets or a lack of organisation, but none of these things are true. I know that Norwich has a young, energetic, enthusiastic and well organised campaign team who know how to win (after all, they gained the parliamentary seat in May of this year), and these deferred elections saw in some wards our best campaigns for many years. Yet despite this, our share of the vote was down across the city. We missed out on winning in Lakenham, a ward we had won in for the last two years, and failed to hold on to second place in the ward we last to the Greens. But most worrying was the party slipping to 4th place in wards where the party had previously been the main challenger.
Just take a look at the results in Norwich compared to last year.
Norwich North Constituency
2009 CC result - Con 724 Lab 606 UKIP 449 Gre 416 LD 257
2010 City result - Labour 835 Conservative 650 Green Party 208 Liberal Democrats 135 UKIP 123
Analysis - Lib Dem vote almost halved. This was a Tory target (they hold all the other seats in the ward) and the candidate is also the county councillor for the ward (and also a district councillor in another borough).
2009 CC result - Lab 811 Con 712 Gre 518 LD 381
2010 City result - Labour 1,085 Conservative 543 Green Party 199 Liberal Democrats 137 UKIP 100
2009 CC result - Gre 620 Lab 614 Con 547 LD 318
2010 City result - Labour 797 Liberal Democrats 455 Conservative 266 Green Party 238 UKIP 90
Analysis - Lib Dem vote up on the back of a through campaign which in any other year would have seen this become a Lib Dem gain. Lots of Lib Dem posters up, lots of leaflets, canvassing, letters, etc. Disappointing for the Lib Dems given the campaign.
The funniest thing about this campaign is that the Greens slipped from 1st last year to 4th this year.
2009 CC result - Gre 826 Lab 676 Con 553 LD 477
2009 CC result - Gre 826 Lab 676 Con 553 LD 477
2010 City result - Labour 792 Green Party 604 Conservative 333 Liberal Democrat 168 UKIP 103
Analysis - A better Lib Dem campaign here this year than last, but the Lib Dem vote more than halved. A disappointment though for the Greens who failed to win this seat by some margin.
So the analysis of the Norwich North results shows Lib Dems down and actually polling less votes despite better campaigns.
Norwich South Constituency
2009 CC result - Con 926 Lab 670 LD 626 Gre 379
2010 City result - Labour 862 Conservative 816 Green 225 Liberal Democrats 184
Analysis - An absolute crash in the Lib Dem vote. There was a by-election here just before the 2009 elections which saw the Lib Dems almost take second place, which accounts for the good Lib Dem showing here, but this result speaks volumes.
2009 CC result - LD 1688 Con 1501 Gre 527 Lab 351
2010 City result - Liberal Democrats 1,356 Conservative 937 Labour 549 Green Party 431
Analysis - The only ward in Norwich where the Lib Dems run a proper local Focus on a regular basis. Regular leaflets, full canvass and local candidates do make a difference.
2009 CC result - LD 877 Lab 743 UKIP 437 Con 361 Gre 353
2010 City result - Labour 899 Liberal Democrats 652 Green Party 608 Conservative 243 UKIP 113
Analysis - Lib Dems have gained this seat for the last two elections but fell some way short.
2009 CC result Gre 1123 LD 525 Lab 510 Con 315
2010 City result Green Party 813 Labour 673 Liberal Democrats 371 Conservative 305
Analysis - This used to be a Lib Dem ward until 4 years ago. Lib Dem vote down significantly again.
2009 CC result - Gre 2103 Lab 421 LD 420 Con 355
2010 City result - Green Party 1,297 Labour 535 Liberal Democrats 198 Conservatives 186
Analysis - Lib Dem vote down, even on a lower turnout. This was a Lib Dem ward last held in 2002.
2009 CC result - Gre 1528 LD 859 Con 716 Lab 476
2010 City result - Green Party 983 Labour 560 Liberal Democrats 550 Conservatives 479
Analysis - Taking in to account the turnout was down by one third, the Lib Dem vote still fell. This ward had a really good Lib Dem campaign and a great candidate. But we slipped to third !
2009 CC result - Gre 1371 LD 620 Con 573 Lab 406
2010 City result - Green Party 859 Labour 412 Liberal Democrat 409 Conservative 401
Analysis -Taking in to account that turnout was down by one third, Lib Dem support was broadland unchanged, but this seat was a Green gain from the Lib Dems.
2009 CC result - Lab 1047 Gre 914 Con 342 LD 271
2010 City result - Labour 1,164 Green Party 409 Liberal Democrats 123 Conservative 140
Analysis - This seat was a Lab/LD marginal from 1990 to 2005. The Lib Dems won this seat in 2002 with more than 1500 votes !
2009 CC result - Gre 1260 Lab 561 Con 442 LD 285
2010 City result - Green Party 887 Labour 743 Conservative 233 Liberal Democrats 172
Analysis - Lib Dem vote slightly down.
We can no longer blame the Greens for our decline in Norwich. They have "topped out" in Norwich, failing to win seats they won last year, and seeing formerly safe seats like Wensum now look very vulnerable.
The Lib Dem vote was down in almost every ward, despite some really good campaigns and an effective local MP who is already building a reputation as a good constituency representative.
Anyone who visited the Norwich campaign HQ during the campaign would have known that the Lib Dems did not fight a losing campaign, but what is clear is that local campaigns will count for little in the face of people seeing us a betraying our election promises in order to get a taste of power as the Tories sidekicks.
Yes, I know that this is not a sign that Labour will automatically win Norwich South next time as they did well yesterday on a low turnout. But it is a sign to Lib Dems, particularly in areas where Labour are the main opposition, that people are deeply unhappy with the Lib Dems and we can expect to see our council representation decimated next May in the local elections.