Monday, 28 May 2012

What If...?

Brentford Labour Councillor and former Deputy Leader Ruth Cadbury has an interesting item on her blog on the recent elections to the Greater London Authority (GLA), with a useful breakdown of voting patterns in the London Borough of Hounslow on a ward by ward basis. You can read the whole article by clicking here.

Whilst I don't believe the results from a London-wide election can be accurately projected onto the local elections to be held in 2014, they do give us some indication of how the ICG could expect to fare if, hypotheically, we were to contest them (the figures given are the "Party List" votes which probably give us a more accurate picture for the purposes of analysis, certainly more so than the beauty contest that was the Mayoral election itself).

On a similar turnout to that that we are likely to witness in 2014 Labour achieved 1094 votes in Isleworth and 1088 in Syon, the two wards which returned community councillors in 2006. These figures exclude the postal votes, which were counted separately. Allocating those postal votes proportionately from the overall total the Labour vote increases to around 1470 in Isleworth, and 1460 in Syon.

The Conservative vote is especially interesting. Just 653 people voted Conservative in Isleworth and 777 in Syon. Adding the postal votes calculated in the same manner as with Labour those figures increase to 916 in Isleworth and 1089 in Syon.

Both Labour and Conservative totals are those achieved in what was more or less a straight fight between the two (the minor parties, including the Lib Dems, shared a fairly small proportion of the overall votes cast). In other words, it is the vote the two big parties can reasonably expect in the absence of a challenge from within the community.

In both 2002 and 2006 votes for ICG candidates in Isleworth ranged between 1065 and 1266. In Syon in 2006 they ranged between 1329 and 1417. I have deliberately ignored the 2010 totals, which were higher, as the turnout was distorted by the fact of the general election being held on the same day.

Bearing in mind that the turnout in 2014 is likely to be similar to that of the GLA election, the suggestion is that any community candidates would take their votes largely from the political candidates, and proportionately this would mean for the most part from Labour and the Conservatives.

Could the ICG expect a similar vote to that which it achieved in 2002 and 2006? The feedback and general support that we are picking up from across the community leaves me in no doubt at all that we could. So what does this all mean?

Well first of all it means that, with or without a community intervention, the Conservatives have no realistic chance of making any headway in either Isleworth or Syon in spite of their bizarre bragging on Internet forums in the immediate wake of their defeat in 2010. If the ICG doesn't contest, Labour wins.

Secondly, it suggests that the ICG would, if it were to involve itself, probably be the bookie's favourite to win all six seats back. 1400-odd votes less a good few hundred lost to the ICG equals something decidedly short of the likely ICG total.

Possibly though this wouldn't be enough to seize the balance of power on the Council, as was the case last time. In the west of the borough there are a number of seats in which representation is "mixed" and current trends, coupled with the Conservatives' general lack of a gameplan other than a pie-in-the-sky aspiration for achieving an overall majority which would appear to be based solely on wishful thinking rather than any form of strategic planning, would seem to point to Labour gains in 2014, especially with the Conservatives being the major party of government. Even without Isleworth and Syon Labour currently holds 29 of the Council's 60 seats. A couple of gains in the west would secure them overall control in any event. But with a majority of, say, three seats the party would be extremely vulnerable to any eccentricites and deviations on the part of any of its own people. Party loyalty and organisational obedience would be put to the test like never before.

Like I say, this is all strictly hypothetical. The ICG doesn't have to contest elections. There is more than one way to skin a cat - if my very vegetarian daughter would forgive me such an expression. What it does mean however is that we remain in a position to use our clout within the community to wrest concessions at a time when some cutbacks are inevitable and when decisions will have to be taken between dependent and non-dependent services by an administration which institutionally feels more kindly disposed towards people and organisations that are dependent upon them. The hugely successful demos around Isleworth Library and St. John's Community Centre, coupled with our continuing active support for Isleworth Public Hall, are cases in point.


Anonymous said...

Slightly off-subject perhaps, but what should we make of the "Isleworth Labour Rose" leaflet currently doing the rounds ?

A rather bland, unremarkable offering, obviously waving the flag for Labour, but really saying very little.

Are these the sort of things sitting councillors put out mid-term I wonder ?

Phil Andrews said...

I think it's just a mid-term leaflet like you say, reminding constituents that the party is still around.

Nothing out of the ordinary - potholes mended thanks to Labour, jobs at Sky thanks to Labour, summer has finally arrived thanks to Labour, etc.

Personally I prefer an informative approach and find this self-congratulatory style rather off-putting and cacky, but to be fair all the political parties do it so it's fairly much what we would expect.

I was surprised not to see something about the roof of the St. John's Centre being allocated funding for repairs (thanks to Labour) but possibly the leaflet was published before that money was eventually released.

We'd criticise them if they didn't do anything to keep residents informed, so I suppose it is nice to see them out and about.