Sunday, 10 April 2011


Do you remember a year ago this week when the Lib Dem's topped the pre election national opinion polls after strong showings by their leader Nick Clegg in the live TV debates?

"Just think how many times you've been given promises from these old parties. and when they get back into government, you find that nothing really changes at all, we can do so much better than that this time"
Said Nick

Well having signed a pre election pledge to scrap tuition fees and warning all that would listen about the Tory's VAT bombshell, he then of course went on to support the rise in tuition fees to £9000 and back the increase in VAT to 20%. It seems he was right in his pre election warning to us all apart from of course telling us that his was one of the same old parties who would do anything and say anything to get into power..

The following big dip in national support for the Lib Dem's since is therefore understandable but what effect will it have locally in the forthcoming Borough Council Elections?

Well it will have some effect of course, no local party can ride out the unpopularity of their Westminster Leaders, but some local voters may look to more local issues, but there also it seems that the picture is not too rosy for the Local Lib Dem's.

Despite there brave attempts to rewrite the local press headlines people I speak to rate their four year term in office a lot lower than they themselves do. The Focus leaflets may tell us that they saved the market and managed the books efficiently, but on the doorstep voters say they have wrecked the market and cut services to the core. The fountain is either "a wonderful new addition to the street scene" if promoted by the local Lib Dem team or "Another waste of bloody money on something which never works" if you ask the public.

Shortlisted for "Most Improved Council" they tell us and show us their certificate withe competition was only open only to Lib Dem Councils who form part of the Liberal Democrat Group at the Local Government Association.

The problem the local Lib Dems have though is that on May the 5th it will be the public at large who will be casting the votes and expressing an opinion, not just their own membership.

But local Lib Dem campaigners are if nothing else an optimistic bunch, despite all signs pointing understandably to a melt down in Lib Dem support, Two sitting Northampton Borough Councillors I spoke to were adamant that the party will hang on to power at the Guildhall on May 5th.

Others are less bombastic and point to a reduction in their overall number but "not in my seat"

The truth of course is that none of us really know how the elections will turn out, everyone expects a rise in Labour's vote given their new role in opposition to the Tory dominated coalition with the Lib Dem's. The obvious victim of any Labour rise will be those who beat them into second place 4 years ago and that leaves a lot of Tory seats as well as Lib Dem seats in the balance.

As the only Independent elected I too must see off a rise in any Labour vote if myself and Malcolm are to take 2 seats in Castle Ward, but don't write off the Independents and non aligned candidates as many did at the General Election.

Then because of those awful TV debates anyone standing as a non Tory, Lab or Lib Dem candidate were sidelined and ignored and as I have said elsewhere, many voters went to the polling station to vote Brown, Cameron or Clegg without a thought as to who their local candidateswere . How else can anyone explain the ridiculously good result for Labour's Clyde Loakes polling nearly 10,000 votes and securing second place as an absent and non interested candidate?

The County Elections of 2009 are therefore probably a better measure of the support out there for the candidates and it will be interesting to see what effect the cooperation of non aligned candidates who are not standing in the same seats against each other or supporting each other in seats, has this time has on the result.

In Castle Ward in 2009 I topped the poll with 38.9 of the vote and the Green Party polled over 10.4% given that we are supporting each other this time and have 3 three candidates between us for three vacancy's then a collective vote from our supporters on the doorstep could secure over 50 % of the vote! But of course the new wards and changes to boundaries throw another unknown factor into the complex mix.

The picture I paint above is in pointing out the differences between voting habits and results at national and local levels, the 35-40% who vote in Local Government elections it would seem are less likely to be swayed by national events or trends and more likely to be strong supporters of their party's or local Cllrs.

But the Lib Dem "swingers" (no there is another blog posting, altogether) could make the real difference, will they go red? or blue? or look to the Independents and others to find a new home for their vote?

If you are an ex Lib Dem supporter I would welcome your views on where your vote may be cast this time, as always, all comments are very welcome.


  1. Two things mate...

    About this fountain. I admit I didn't really like it all that much when it first arrived. I didn't think it was a waste of money, rather not the sort of thing I would like... I wanted a proper fountain with statue and everything ~ maybe one of Alderman Dickie!

    However, it's not bad. It is good to see people running through it when the weather is nice. And yes it DOES work, I have the picture to prove it... it has been working a lot over the past few weeks and months. However, do you really believe they should run it all day every day? Surely to have a fountain like ours working when it is bitterly cold or raining would be foolish, not to mention dangerous.

    Just picture the scene; there goes Alderman Dickie walking to his bank taking in the lovely scene of the working fountain as he does so. It is bitterly cold and some of the water has frozen, and whoops there he goes landing on his butt with the full legs and arms flailing bit... not a pretty picture hey?

    Secondly, I'm not sure if you noticed; but the Lib Dems didn't win the election. Nor did the Tories, Labour or any majority of Independents... That kinda means you have to work with others and compromise (is that the right spelling?) with people you might not have wanted to. It happens. The voters clearly didn't trust anyone when it comes to politics, and that is understandable.

    Maybe had we won outright things would be different, maybe they would not. That's the thing about politics I guess; you can only see what happens now, not what might have been.

    Anyways, that just my view; and what do I know? If you ask John, I am two faced and cynical... apparently.

  2. Nicky,

    The fountain: Haddenstone offered to work with the Borough to erect a proper stone fountain as a centrepiece to the Market. the Fib Dems turned them down because they knew best. They didn't consult with any other Cllrs on the Borough before deciding on the design. If they had of done then two things I would have said is 1) Don't build it so kids can run through it unless you are clear it will be safe from Cryptosporidium Spores and 2) don't build it on a slope where the water will cascade over the pavement causing a slip hazard in cold weather.

    But once again the sheer arrogance of the Lib Dems at the Guildhall led to them owning the decision and owning the criticism that has followed.

    On the General Election, you are right the Lib Dems didn't win, they came a distant third, but in agreeing to prop up a Tory Government they sold all their principles to the devil and made themselves look foolish. Clegg saw the opportun ity to be Deputy Prime Minister flash before his eyes and forgot all the pre election pledges in a mist of power hungry opportunism.

    People also forget that the Lib Dems could have formed a government with the Labour Party and ensured that the cuts were not so fast and so deep, and that VAT would not be 20% and that a freeze on tuition fees was agreed followed by a review? But they were only interested in power and they have made there bed as closet Tories and must now (lie) in it

  3. Tony - you're a very experienced politician, and I wouldn't presume to tell you how to conduct your campaign. But ....

    I believe that one of the main reasons why so many people are so fed-up with politics and politicians is the constant inter-party bickering and criticism. Some days the Chron's letters page contains nothing else.

    I believe that you and your fellow 'Independents' need to promote your independence above all else. For me, just saying that you have no allegience to any political party is justification enough to secure my vote. Yes, it needs to be supported with details of your beliefs and manifesto, but your determination to do best for Northampton and its citizens, without regard to party politics, is your greatest asset.

    So ... tell people again and again and again how much you care about Northampton and what you have to offer, and try to avoid constant criticism of the party-aligned candidates.

    Left and Right and Centre have all but disappeared from politics - promote local pride, common sense, fairness, honesty and consideration for others and I believe you cannot fail.

  4. Thanks vervet, I agree with most of your post, and us supposed experienced politicians are usually the ones who need to listen most and take on views from fresh minds.

    The problem over the last four years though is the arrogance and ineptitudrenof the Lib Dems drew us all into opposition rather than constructive thought and action. we need now more than ever a period where the talents of allar used to the benefit of the whole town and without Party spin or dominance.

    The only slight dissagreement I have with your comment though stat I think the politics of Left and Right (withoutvthe centre) are seeingba comeback due to the far right agenda of the current Tory/Lib Dem government opening up old wounds of class and North South division.

    Bu I take my hat off to young identifying the important lessons Independnts must learn if we ar to win more than just pundits.

  5. I actually agree with vervet, I am fed up with the in fighting; and I guess I am part of it ~ though not the problem, that one I try to keep out of.

    Also Tony, I slightly agree on the fountain front; but like I said this is harder (is that the right word?) to vandalise. (sorry again, about the spelling)

    I also think you have to look at where they were able to build it. Put it at the top and people will certainly mess with it ~ just look at Fitzy Lion! Put it at the bottom and yes it doesn't flow perfectly. Put it in the middle and, well it will be in everyone's way!

    And apparently they have made sure it is safe, maybe we should get a look at the reports? (If you have them, can you post them or e-mail them ~ saves me doing it)

    I am torn when it comes to the coalition, I don't want to be all friendly with the Tories; I know many of the Lib Dems don't either. And yes we could have formed a government with Labour.

    But, in my non political opnion; I believe that the public did not want Labour around; maybe Nick Clegg decided to join up with the Tories because they might have had a better chance... I don't know. All I know is we are in this thing now, we have (apparently; because again, I haven't looked yet) acheived 67 of our manifesto policies etc. and we have to grin and bare it until there is a general election where the public can choose to vote how they want.

    The good voting public might chose a strong Tory government, maybe the Tories will blame it all on us Lib Dems; maybe Labour will rise again and take control back... or maybe (as I suspect) we will have less people vote and less of a turnout and it will be either red or blue time again!

    Or you could get re elected, take over the town, country and world... and Carole will moan at you for missing dinner! (or something like that)

  6. Miss A Nobody you make me laugh - a lot of really good well thought out points and then you say "...I believe that the public did not want Labour around..." They wanted Labour around much more than they wanted the Lib Dems around! Clegg got one of the lowest votes in many a year for the Lib Dems. The two reasons why he has an office in No 10 at present is (i)voters were fed up with Labour but were not convinced to vote Tory and (ii)Clegg has always been to the right of centre, his background and experience always leaning to the Tories.

  7. Can we talk local elections please?

  8. Confused, the General Election is supposed to be a series of local elections for local MPs to be elected, not the media took any notice at the time.

    I think a mix of local/national/international suits best depending on the circumstances but as I said I am always open to suggestions for topics.

  9. You always have an answer and it always tends to be a smart one. Don't always assume that everyone wants to have a pop. Some of us may even be supportive from the wings. Local as in pertaining immediately to the concerns of those in and around the town of Northampton. For many people, what goes on outside of that area does not ever really affect them. Residents of this Borough unfortunately look to the elected Councillors to provide solutions for local problems (God knows we have many) and therefore look only to them for support and guidance. Personal opinions about National politicians are in my opinion merely a means of avoiding the issues that matter here, local services etc. You will only get meaningful discourse on here if you don't always try and belittle the contributions of others, even if they are from anonymous sources.

  10. Confused, apologies if that's how it came across, it was not intended to. the point I try to make is that I wish our politics were more local, but most of the local elected Cllrs dare not even fart without asking their national leaders what tune it should be in, and that annoys me as much the national media trying to turn everything into a party coloured beauty contest to the exclusion of those of us fed up with all of them.

    The solution to many of our local problems are easy to achieve if we could get people to work for the common good instead of wanting all the credit for their Party.

    I would very much welcome your views on which local issues you wish me to cover

  11. Come on Tony - the local media didn't nothing but bang the 'localist' agenda at the last General Election. Its the voters that didnt follow suit.

    It's ok to be 'confused' Confused but try and get some clarity before you blog cos you're not making much sense.

    I do agree that Libya is not an issue that will come up on the streets at this polling time though - it is about bins, parking and holes in the road.

    Tony - is local government too 'big' and shouldn't we look to local councils to deliver basic services (as above) and leave other things to the private sector who have a much better track record on delivery and service?

  12. IndepenDENSE -

    Perhaps the eloquent nature of my comment threw you but to all intents and purposes, I too am talking about "bins, parking and holes in the road" However, "holes in the road" are the responsibility of the NCC as are most of the parking issues. These elections are to the best of my humble knowledge about Borough Councillors.

    Frankly, there are more basic and serious concerns e.g. the constant filthy state of the streets all over the Borough.

    As for "not making much sense" I am further confused by the first line in your most recent comment which includes "the local media didn't nothing"??????

    I don't wish however to enter into the realms of pettiness and to that end I would just state that before you point the figure of criticism, bear in mind where the other fingers are directed.

  13. indepenDENSE, 13 years of BLUE LABOUR, enough said on labour.

  14. Blue Labour? I think you will find Anonymous that for all the spouting and pontificating of the left, it was new Labour that introduced the NMW, record employment, new schools and hospitals and at the time it was Tony Clarke who shouted the loudest about this. People have very short memories.

    confused you still make me laugh - you spend most of that message being petty and then you say you dont want to be petty! You need to laugh at yourself at bit more my friend.

  15. IndepenDENSE -

    Fish on the end of a rod springs to mind - flailing away with the inevitable to come.
    God forbid but being a friend of anything/anyone New Labour associated I could never be accused of.

    LOCAL 'political' DISCOURSE PLEASE, now that's funny!!

    Unless there is something to whet my appetite on local problems then I'm afraid you will just have to get on with your inane historical nonsense.

    Look forward, splash a little cold water on the face in the morning and get doing - not nattering on about what you did/might have done.
    Have a good day - time to make another few bob.

  16. confused is getting all cryptic now. Think you are taking it all a bit personal.

    Coalition falls apart as we blog today. Cameron attacks immigrants, Cable attacks Cameron, Cameron attackes Cable....Cable only at Dept for BIS to keep Lib Dems in coalition. Cameron could not sack him over Sky deal earlier this year therefore more evidence he can say what he wants and not even the PM can remove him.

    Tony this is your blog - whats next for coalition?

  17. IndepenDENSE, expect the coalition to fall apart after the local elections if Clegg doesn't get his YES vote on AV.

    Poss General Election in October.

    I will blog at some point on who should run services but my belief is that Public or private it is about how much is invested and how the services are managed. I am not a fan of outsourcing as it takes public money and puts it into the hands of Private concerns when it can be delivered in house more efficiently

  18. IndepenDENSE, I thought I was the only one who made you laugh ~ I shall get upset if I have to share ~ kidding! Thought we could all use a little humour, especially now!

    I actually agree with your first comment about people not wanting Labour but not trusting Tories, not 100% sure I agree about Nick Clegg; as I have never met the man. I tend to (as Tony will tell you) try base my views on people when I have met them, though I think I like you ~ because you make me smile too.

    I also (rightly or wrongly) agree with Tony about the coalition falling apart if AV does not go our way. I personally did not want to be part of this coalition, I know as a Lib Dem I should support it; and in some respects I do.

    But, and this has been somewhat of a problem to me of late ~ but that's another story ~ I would much rather hold true to my OWN beliefs and ideas than have someone somewhere else tell me I cannot do this or that or the other "just because!"

    For instance, I would never turn my back on my fellow man/woman/person, (being all politically correct there) that just is not my way. I could never, say turn my back on someone I consider a friend or who has looked out for me; that is just not me.

    And if you read the back of a Lib Dem members card, it has a "pre~amble" on the back that basically say it believes in better for everyone. Which is something I believe in, passionately. And even if others in the Northampton Lib Dems or national Lib Dems for that matter, do not believe in the same; it is NOT my problem.

    If others give a bad image of Lib Dems then so be it, we are NOT all the same. Some of us care, some of us want the best for the people in this town; and some of us want the best for this town!

    They say you cannot judge a book by its cover ~ Tony will agree to this, his tattoos will tell you so much ~ and I agree. If this view gets me into more trouble, then so be it; I shall just go on believing what I wish to beleve and doing what I feel is right and just for my fellow townies!

  19. Miss A Nobody you are far too nice a person with respectful views and values to be a Lib Dem. I have met Clegg a few times and it just seems there is an arrogance about him where he feels he doesnt have to explain himself.

    He has never once said 'sorry' over the tuition fees debacle and if it was such an important issue to him that he posed with every candidate on the issue pre election then he shouldn't have given it up so easily to be part of the coalition.

    I share the view that if the AV vote goes against him then Lib Dems will wonder more than ever why they are in the coalition. Vince Cable bless him is obviously thinking it every day.

    The challenge I have is that I think I like the AV+ model (1,2,3,4 etc) but to vote against it would increase the chance of this government falling which is equally appealing. In saying all of that Labour are no where near ready to form the next government.

    I didnt know Tony had tatoos. I bet one of them is a Cobblers season ticket one.

  20. Local politics please. There will be plenty of time to decimate Clegg and co, if in fact he doesn't do the deed himself.

  21. Lmao, sadly not IndepenDENSE; though I have only seen those on his arms!

    Thank you for the compliment too, I would rather look at it that I am a Lib Dem (proper old school type) because I am nice; but I can't have everything I want.

    I can understand how not voting for AV could be an attractive option for our political opponants (sorry, as always about my spelling ~ no sleep again) however, my worry is that it ten all becomes a little "childish" (if that makes sense?)

    Other than when I first started to vote, I have never got who I voted for in any election. I can also understand why people want to KEEP the system we have (after all, gotta look after the old "boys!" what) and I can see why people want to get rid of it too... I want a hard working MP/politician and my vote/voice to actually count.

    I dunno, at the end of the day; I cannot please everyone. So maybe the idea is to just be me and let others worry about the big stuff, and not to sweat the small stuff...

    And now I will (I promise) go to bed.
    (Night all)




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