Friday, November 27, 2009

Alveston local By-election

So we were defeated last night in the Alveston By-election. Despite a hard working campaign team and the fact that the by-election had come about by the sad death of a conservative councillor the liberal democrats defeated our candidate Lynda Organ.

It was a narrow margin of defeat just 888 votes for Anthony Cronin to 834 for Lynda. With so few votes in it you have to wonder what swayed those last few voters, particularly as it appears that the Green candidate failed to pull any majority of lib dem votes (only 58 votes went to the Greens and 111 votes to the Labour candidate).

The town council seat was also won by a lib dem candidate, this time by a much larger margin (1028 votes to 694). Showing the sometimes incestuous nature of local politics the winning candidate, Ian Fradgley, is actually husband of the current town mayor Jenny Fradgley.

Something that I am increasingly thinking is of vital importance on a local level though is the local media. It's known in Stratford political circles that the local paper the Stratford Herald leans towards the Lib Dems (why though no one has been able to tell me). And on election day the front story of the Herald was a story detailing how the Conservative led council and cabinet will be voting on the building of 800 new homes in the region on Monday. The second paragraph of the story stated "All in all, new housing in the Stratford district over the next 15 years looks like rapidly becoming the single most explosive issue on the political agenda in South Warwickshire. It’s already been made into a matter of “stop press” urgency by the opposition Liberal Democrats in today’s (Thursday’s) district council by-election in Alveston." although there was no conservative quote or mention of the candidate's position on the issue at all. Her position was left implicit by the tone of the comment and article.

Equally on the same day we received our free local paper the Stratford Observer which in it's letters page included a lead letter from a conservative detailing that they will not be voting conservative because the current council has taken away free parking for over 65s in the town, and a letter responding in very negative terms to a previous letter from a potential conservative local candidate who questioned the validity of being a councillor but failing to attend meetings. His original comments were more than valid but yet the letter makes them sound to be false and accused him of attacking others without finding out all the facts. It also falls back onto the established narrative that Conservatives are all nasty people (more coming on that soon) by saying "... doesn't mark a return to tactics Mr Cameron claims the conservatives have given up."

In terms of most people's knowledge of truly local issues the only way they know what is happening is through the local paper so when it has a clear skew towards one party this causes great issues. In the weeks and months ahead as we head towards a real local election relatinships with the media and gateway individuals are going to become key. Sadly as a result of individual (not really conservative policy) in the last few years this is going to be a difficult sell

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