It’s been interesting in Walsall, and I’ll try to say a bit more about the matter than my young fresh faced and chipper mate Paul Mac.
I’ll start with a brief reflection on my own humble predictions that I made in the last post. Not far out but not spot on either which is always annoying as I’m usually quite good at this stuff. However it begs a few questions and perhaps a little more analysis of what was actually going on in specific wards.
I happily got it wrong on the positioning of the parties in Short Heath, the BNP didn’t come second as it seems for some reason their vote across the whole of the West Midlands seems to a petered out and fallen back. Hopefully this is a pattern that will continue ad perhaps the electorate have started to realise what they really are as a party.
I got the jitters on polling day about Blakenall, Darlaston South and Brownhills. Thankfully in the case Brownhills they were uncalled for and an excellent hard working local Labour Councillor was returned. Sadly in the case of Blakenall and Darlaston South those jitters turned out to be well founded.
In Blakenall we lost to the DLP (Democratic Labour Party) by 15 votes. The DLP have been targeting this ward for years. On paper Blakenall should be the safest Labour ward in the Borough, although it vies closely with a couple of other wards who should also be far safer than they actually are. All I can say is if anything it should have been last year that the DLP would have seemed likely to gain this seat, put off by a very good campaign then. Why this year? Well, I wasn’t involved in the campaign this year so I have no clue how well or badly it was run but the margin is of course very slim. I’ve been conveyed two versions of the events at the count, the first that a recount was not allowed because staff were tired and the second that the Labour candidate decided not to have a recount because he thought the staff were tired. If the former then I’m sorry, this is democracy and whether the staff are tired or not is irrelevant. If the second account is true then the Labour candidate is a complete and total tit. If it’s a case of only 15 votes then it’s a recount and tough if the staff are tired or not.
On Darlaston South which rightly did go to a recount the margin was even less at 11 votes where the Independent defeated the sitting local Councillor. It wouldn’t have been for any lack of trying on our part as the campaign there was probably the best run and organised in the Borough which the result shows given how far off the mark we were last year when the Independent was returned. This time it was his wife up and plain and simple, they won. Did they deserve it? Well no and Darlaston South is all the worse off for losing probably their most active and dedicated Councillor for someone who I’d have a good bet will do sod all for the area.
The one I missed was Pleck. This was the only loss by Labour to the Tories in Walsall and in some respects needs a little more explanation.
The Labour candidate was new in that the sitting Labour Councillor was stepping down. That sitting Labour Councillor was the Muslim Councillor who after winning in 2004 crossed the floor from the Tories. He’d got there on a communal vote as a Muslim and simply the Tories put up another Muslim and pulled in enough of that communal vote again to take the seat back. I won’t complain because we won the Palfrey Ward last year from the Tories on pretty much the same basis but from my own personal perspective, I’m not a lover of communal politics and although I could write a dissertation on the subject I’ll just note that I recognise that in so far as building strong local democracy, I believe that communal politics has the potential to do more harm than good.
So there you go, apart from that my predictions were pretty much on the money. It was particularly nice to see the LibDem Nadia Fazel get completely shafted in my own ward even if it was by a much higher margin than even I’d dare to commit to. All in all not really a lot changed in Walsall, we’re still in opposition, we stand next to no chance of winning the council back any soon and despite what a complete and utter shambles the Tories are making of the place they can sit pretty for a fair while yet.
I am thinking of another post regarding this issue, concentrating more on the broader view of strategy and interpretation of how the political dynamics are working in Walsall but I shall desist for now as I’ve been to two counts in the last 24 hours, not slept much, am overly tired to concentrate to the extent that the subject matter requires and simply can’t be bother right now, I’d rather do something not remotely linked to politics for the next few hours.