Let Norwich serve as a warning to Nick Clegg

The deferred elections in Norwich yesterday were clearly a great success for the Labour Party, and an unmitigated disaster for the Lib Dems.

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

   Catton Grove 

  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

 Mile Cross 

  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
  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.  
  Town Close 
  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 !

  Thorpe Hamlet 
  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.


johnM said...

this really is pretty dismal! Hope there is a 'post match analysis' to really dig down for the reasons people voted how they did.

Certain things in our message that missed the point? Things said too meekly? Definitely seems that a message of 'the more Lib Dem's the more influence we have' didn't happen?

Man in a Shed said...

Parties in power always lose representation at the local level. That's part of the problem with local democracy being used as a proxy for national politics - and assertion also imply by this article.

The real question is do you have the staying power for government or will you fall victim to the temptation of the prisoner's dilemma. Labour are betting you will take the option of saving your political careers at the expense of the country - I have no idea if they are right.

Nich Starling said...

Although the Tories lost a seat, their vote held up well overall, far better than the lib Dem vote. It's clear the electorate are choosing to blame the Lib Dem for the Tories being in government.

There is, of course, worse to come. In May 2015 there will be a GE and local eleciton on the same day. Imagine the electoral wipeout the lib Dems will get then when people vote on national issues, not local ones. You can expect to see Lib Dem MPs defeated and thousands of councillors (the party's best activists) lose out too.

Anonymous said...

Nick, your party colleagues are not listening. They ahve their fingers in their ears and don't want to see aht is obvious to voters.

As a Labour voter, I sympathise with you. The country needs a strong three party system to give people an alternative in areas where the second party cannot win. Labour cannot provide an alternative to the Tories in much of the south, but the LDs have. But as an adjuct of the Cons, you have now handed swathes of the country back to the Cons.

Good news for us in the red camp in Northern cities and the Midalnds though.

None of the above said...

the turnout was bad news for the lot of you.

3/4 of the population doesn't want ANY of you.

Anonymous said...

And 75% of the population offered no alternative.

Don't diminish the views of 25% who stood up for what they believe in just because the rest could not be bothered.

stay focussed said...

It's difficult enough at the moment Nick so rather than complain why don't you direct your energies constructively. We have an opportunity next week in East Chesterton and then in Watford to put the record straight.

Nich Starling said...

But by-elections are masking the problems. I was positive, I delivered in two Norwich wards, and you saw the results.

The whole "don't rock the boat" line from other Lib Dems is like ostiches with their heads in the sand.

None of the above said...

er, maybe the other 75% don't want what's on offer?

I "can't be bothered" to vote for someone I don't support. The Greens were the closest but there's a lot about them that I don't care for.

Anonymous said...

So why don't they put up for election ?

There is nothing noble about the non voter. The complain everyone is the same, but do nothing to remedy the situation.

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Anonymous said...

well, lack of time, living in a safe seat, lack of confidence, lack of the necessary resources, lack of faith in the entire system and a hundred other reasons.

I find not voting to be very noble indeed when it's a conscious and reasoned decision.

dazmando said...

I agree Nick this is a warning, we should listen. I always wish local politics was not influenced by national politics but I fear it is. I do think that this is not only unfair on the councillors that work hard but unfair on the people themselves who need the best people for the job (not always lib dems).

I do think that in some cases the LAbour attacks on us have been much harsher than on the tories and this is also having some effect as people believe a messages if its banged into them for long enough.

paul barker said...

A typically hysterical peice from Comrade Starling. There were 33 contests that day of which only 5 resulted in a change. The net effect was Labour +1, Tories -1, Libdems no change. Thats hardly the political earthquake Labour were predicting.

Nich Starling said...

Ny-eletions in isolation are never a true judge.

Look at the Norwich and Exeter results and we were down. Look at how many second places we got in Norwich - TWO and how many we won ONE. Get you head out of the sand.

Nich Starling said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nich Starling said...

Of course, I meant "by-elections". Excuse my spelling.

stay focussed said...

I am more concerned with the current opinion polls, which if they are to believed puts us in an uncomfortable place for the locals next May. But I guess that's the price you pay of being in Government?

stay focussed said...

Lib Dem vote up 4% in East Chesterton last night against a very energetic Labour campaign.

Edward Carlsson Browne said...

Yeah, but that's not up against Labour - we were up over 10%. And that's with a very effective Lib Dem attempt to run a squeeze campaign and claim voting Labour would let the Tories in.

With the Tories clearly having failed to break through (they were the night's big losers), running such a squeeze next time will be difficult.

Add in the potential that the Greens might actually do something, anything at all, in the ward next time it's the Lib Dems who look more likely to be squeezed.

You ran a good campaign in East Chesterton and I won't take that away from you, but you only beat us by 8% in a ward that we haven't worked properly for years before the by-election. And East Chesterton is only about the 7th or 8th best Labour ward in the city. If I was a Kings Hedges or Arbury councillor, I would be worrying right now.

Anonymous said...

Independent saturday SHOCK !

Clegg says Lib Dems are nolonger a party of the centre left ????

You right wing b------- Nick

Anonymous said...

But will the Norwich South MP back for example the Tories NHS white paper agenda to privatise the NHS ???

He does that then he will lose the seat

Nich Starling said...

I note in East Chesterton the Labout vote was up dramatically.

Anonymous said...

It's arguable how effective the new constituency MP is seen to be when it took him so long to start dealing with cases and mail, and to appoint his staff. He may also come to regret siting his office on a business estate and not somewhere more central for ease of access by all his constituents, including those reliant on public transport. At the moment, he seems to symbolise what the public see as the recent behaviour of the LibDem Party as a whole - concerned more with grabbing power at any price, rather than with standing up for what used to be seen to be core LibDem values.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Nick (Starling, aka Norfolk Blogger... You're doomed!