Reflections on the Walsall result

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.

5 thoughts on “Reflections on the Walsall result

  1. The Sandwell picture is that the BNP vote didn’t really peter out, but they have hit the wall in terms of what they can pick up from disillusionment from us without the assistance of other parties failing to field candidates.

    Overall, they were taking votes from the Tories, but our own vote held up well, thanks to some good hard work on the ground.

    I’m hearing very good things indeed about Syeda Khatun’s campaign in Tipton Green.

  2. One factor in both in both Blakenhall and Pleck is the sizeable housing regeneration programmes taking place in both areas, both of which have meant the clearance of big chunk of the social housing stock.

    In Pleck that just meant fewer natural Labour voters.

    Blakenall is a bit different as some of the planned demolitions are controversial, which the DLP has been exploiting to the full.

    Its unfortunate but they’ve been stoking up local anxieties in the area for some time, only to hit the jackpot when some of the decisions mirrored some of the stories they’ve been spreading.

  3. Well done over in Sandwell mate specially with respect to the BNP. I agree on the housing situation in respect to Blakenall, the DLP have been playing that one up for the past few years and I think coupled with an inability to turn out Labour voters they of course just squeaked it this time.

    Pleck however is a bit different in that I don’t think it’s possible to define ‘Labour voters’ in terms of all the Labour voters are that lot over there on the council estate and those in the private houses over there are Tories. It’s not that simple. For myself I remember people telling me that ten years ago when out campaigning, it wasn’t true then and is even less true now. On the basis of that Central Avenue in Tipton should be a gold mine for Labour votes but it bloody isn’t. The dynamics have changed considerably if indeed that was ever the case, perhaps in the 70’s but strangely enough I wasn’t out campaigning then so I don’t know.

    When looking at the returns for Pleck which has been pretty safe Labour territory for a long time and the statistics in terms of housing although have shifted, certainly can’t account for such a change. Equally it was not an issue last year nor I would imagine next year when Dennis is standing. More a case of new Labour candidate up against a section of the Muslim community motivated towards a candidate rather than a party which is exactly what happened in 2004 in the all up election.

  4. Penguin

    Interesting and though provoking analysis. Over here in Telford we lost control – mainly due to gains by the Telford & Wrekin Peoples’ party! A group of angry residents who organised following a disastrous decision by the former leader to impose car parking charges in the local town centres!

    Have you seen the lates YouGov poll of party members conducted for Jon Cruddas? I have posted on it – it is really interesting.

    Mike

  5. I literally just read it over on your site and I’d certainly agree. It’s a particularly pertinent issue in places like the Black Country where to be fair incomes for many people are not spectacular and effectively force people into the private rented sector which can be pot-luck as to whether the Landlord is any good or not.

    Although should we re-introduce the ability for local authorities to build social housing, is it just me or can I see the next BNP leaflet campaign. ‘Labour has to build more houses to cope with asylum influx!’ You can just see it coming can’t you?

    Takes me back to an argument I had with my cousin once about why he and his girlfriend couldn’t get a council house. He didn’t quite like when I pointed out that the local council was only housing about 40 asylum seekers at the time, all in areas you wouldn’t want to live in if they paid you.

    Of course it might have slightly more to do with the Tories and Thatcher who his father adores who sold off all the stock in the first place meaning there’s nothing available for him. Which is interesting to the point that they effectively bribed his parents and screwed him over and future generations to come. Somehow it’s sad that some people can’t recognise that fact meaning it’s us who get the blame for a problem born over two decades ago by a blinkered administration with no thought for the future.

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