Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


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Predictions: Ipswich Council Elections 2012

Here are my predictions for the Local Elections in Ipswich on 3rd May. Enjoy!


Alexandra Ward

The Liberal Democrat incumbent, Nigel Cheeseman, is stepping down from the Council so the only advantage the Yellow Peril had has been removed. The Liberal Democrat collapse nationally coupled with seasoned Labour campaigner Adam Leeder (who has stood for Westminster in Suffolk Coastal) being on the ballot paper, I expect this to be a Labour GAIN.

Bixley Ward (Ipswich Borough Council seat)

A safe Conservative HOLD for returning councillor Richard Pope*. He won’t get a thousand majority like former councillor Bill Wright used to and I achieved back in 2007 but expect at least 500 votes between Richard and his nearest challenger. Conservative HOLD.

Bixley Division (Suffolk County Council seat)

Alan Murray, the Conservative Candidate will become a County Councillor by the time the count is complete (does anyone know when the Count will take place – 3rd or 4th May?) but expect UKIP candidate Chris Streatfield to do very well but not by enough for the Tories to lose here. Conservative HOLD.

Bridge Ward 

Although James Spencer is a good campaigner who regularly gets under the skin of Labour in this ward he will not pick up Bridge this year. Stay at home Tories who are displeased with David Cameron and the fact there are not enough Conservative voting intentions on the canvass sheet means this will remain a Labour HOLD.

Castle Hill Ward

There is a straight fight between the traditional main parties in this seat. There is no chance of an upset. Robin Vickery will continue to be a councillor. Conservative HOLD.

Gainsborough Ward

The antithesis to Castle Hill Ward this seat also has no other party standing other than the traditional three. No upset. Labour HOLD.

Gipping Ward

Despite Kevin Algar being an enthusiastic campaigner for the Conservatives his uber-loyalty to the Coalition will grate some disaffected Tories. But even if he was a bit more sensitive to Cameron’s weaknesses, there would be no chance of Kevin unseating Labour leader and Labour parliamentary candidate David Ellesmere. Labour HOLD.

Holywells Ward

Alongside Rushmere, this will be the most interesting result on the night (if the count takes place on the night of 3rd May that is – you can never tell if the Council’s officers will feel too tired or not?) after last year’s close run between leader of the Council – as she was then – Liz Harsant and the Labour challenger. Cllr Harsant’s majority is 93. If well-known Liz Harsant with a massive incumbency factor had trouble beating Labour in what is normally a safe Tory ward what hope has newcomer Pam Stewart got. But then you need to factor in that Independent Dale Jackson, former Ipswich Borough Council Conservative Group leader and staunch rival of Liz Harsant, stood in Holywells last year. Many of the 114 votes he gained were from the Conservatives. This factor is not in play this year and therefore Pam Stewart has a good chance of getting elected.

Labour’s candidate does not live in the ward whereas Pam Stewart does, which will be an advantage to Mrs Stewart at the ballot box. Labour’s Elango Elavalakan, according to his potted biography in the latest Labour Rose leaflet, also does not seem to have been in Ipswich long which may lead to some voters thinking he is not yet fully aware of the local issues in the ward or the wider town. Both these factors will damage Labour’s vote.

However, the number of stay-at-home Tories who dislike David Cameron’s policies will be the deciding factor in this ward if this is to remain a Conservative hold. If UKIP had been standing in this seat, it would have been curtains for the Conservatives. As it is, they are not, therefore I predict a Conservative HOLD.

Priory Heath Ward

When I was Chairman of Ipswich Conservatives, I and my fellow Officers took Priory Heath seriously as a potential Conservative gain. The new Ravenswood estate was ripe for Tory pickings but as it turned out many of the people up on the old airport site were not interested in voting in local politics which was borne out by the Ravenswood polling station box consistently having the lowest turnout in the ward. People up on the Ravenswood estate are young professionals who are too busy working to take notice of local election campaigns unlike many on the Priory Heath council estate who depend on Labour for their benefits. Labour HOLD.

Rushmere Ward

The Conservatives have a new whipper-snapper working Rushmere ward but Labour’s Alasdair Ross seems to have an endless amount of time to campaign on the ground and in the ether on his blog and on Twitter. Conservative candidate Chris Chambers has a good campaigning blog and is leading from the front on canvassing sessions (I hope he is knocking on doors not ‘running the board’!). The Tories have given Rushmere target ward status and are piling the activists they have into the seat to win the ward come what may. No doubt Councillor and new Ipswich Conservatives Chairman Judy Terry would take it very personally if they were to lose considering she is up for election next year on Suffolk County Council and her Ipswich Borough seat is up for grabs in 2014.

The Green Party are standing and Eric Nelson will probably take a few votes from Alasdair Ross. The Yellow Peril have no chance.

Alasdair Ross is an excellent campaigner and he has never let up since he won Rushmere four years ago – as New Labour did nationally, the Socialist Ross has worked Rushmere since 2008 as if he was fighting an incumbent. Once you factor in the disaffected Tory vote, Chris Chambers will still be Mr Chambers on 4th May. Labour HOLD.

Sprites Ward

The Conservatives aren’t discounting this seat like they unsurprisingly have done with seats like Gainsborough and Priory Heath as they have put up Duncan Titchmarsh who has fought elections in Ipswich before but now that excellent Tory campaigner Bob Hall has switched to Stoke Park as his preferred route back to Grafton House, Richard Kirby will sail through to the winning post in Sprites. Labour HOLD.

St John’s Ward

My wife is stepping down from Ipswich Borough Council and therefore regular candidate (but not yet a councillor) Eddy Phillips is standing for the Tories in this ward. Looking around St John’s at the private dwellings and pleasant streets, including Goring Road and Lattice Avenue, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is prime Conservative territory.

Unfortunately, many of the private dwellings are occupied by middle-class public sector workers which is not the same as middle-class private sector workers. These people are too intelligent to bite the hand that feeds them and coupled with doughty Labour campaigner Cllr Sandy Martin being a full-time councillor and therefore not having the inconvenience of a boss to please this is still a Labour ward despite Tanya Maclure’s surprise win back in 2008.

Cllr Martin is not standing this year (he is up for election in 2014) but his reputation will put wind into the sails of Labour’s candidate Jennifer Stimson.  Labour GAIN.

St Margaret’s Ward

The result here could be interesting. The Greens and an Independent are standing along with the traditional main parties. Liberal Democrat votes are likely to fall into both the Green and Labour columns with Independent Peter Turtill picking up votes from across the spectrum but mainly from disaffected Tories as a protest vote. The by-election result late last year shows the Liberal Democrat vote to be strangely holding up here but if it does collapse to the Greens and Labour this could allow Conservative candidate Stephen Ion to come through the middle.

But then there is the Cann factor. Liberal Democrat Andrew Cann may well attract Labour votes from those who liked former Ipswich Labour MP and Andrew’s father, Jamie Cann, which could cancel out the defection of the Yellow Peril to the Greens. This is very difficult to call but I think it will be a Liberal Democrat HOLD – just.

Stoke Park Ward

Conservative Paul West is not seeking re-election to Ipswich Borough Council.  If he had been, it is possible he would have hung on here, despite the disaffected Tories staying at home, due to his strong personal following in the ward. As Mr West is not standing again, this ward is very vulnerable for the Tories.

The Conservatives have selected well by putting former Sprites councillor Bob Hall on the ballot paper. If anyone can pound the pavements and work the doors Mr Hall can. The Tories will be trying hard to hold this seat in Stoke Park after Richard Pope (and now new Bixley candidate) was defeated last year.

But word from the doorstep in the Tories’ best part of Stoke Park – the Royals estate – is that the Conservative vote is disappointed and they are saying the Conservative Party nationally has let them down by not implementing Tory policies on the economy and Europe once they gained power. The excuse being peddled by Prime Minister Cameron that the Liberal Democrats won’t let him is no longer believed.

If the Tories can’t get out their core vote they are stuffed. Therefore, I predict a Labour GAIN.

Westgate Ward

Labour councillor Carole Jones is up for election this year. In looking at the figures from 2011, when Labour won by over 500 votes, and with the Liberal Democrat vote expected to slip even further into the Green column or even into the Labour camp this year, Carole Jones will romp home. Labour HOLD.

Whitehouse Ward

As in 2011, this is a straight fight between the traditional three parties. Sitting councillor Albert Grant really has nothing to worry about. Easy Labour HOLD.

Whitton Ward

Former Conservative councillor Steve Wells managed to win big in Whitton in 2006 but ever since then the Tory vote has been chipped away. Labour gained the seat from sitting councillor Michelle Bevan last year with a comfortable 168 majority. Conservative councillor Don Ward is stepping down and with the Tory vote expected to continue falling because of their troubles nationally, this seat is a goner for the Conservatives.  Labour GAIN.

* I declare an interest as Richard was one of my ushers at my wedding last year


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The people will judge the mainstream political parties soon

As I have been writing for some time (here, here, and here) there is a major problem brewing for the traditional main three political parties, which are the Conservative Party, Labour Party and Liberal Democrats Party. Their problem has been visible since David Cameron presented his “big, open and comprehensive offer” to the Liberal Democrats on 7th May 2010 which eventually led to the first Coalition government since the Second World War. Commentators are now suggesting this is what David Cameron was hoping for all along and his time in Opposition had been about reaching out to Liberal Democrat and Labour voters at the expense of his own supporters. If that is true, as I have written before, David Cameron will go down in history as the only Conservative leader to lose two General Elections in a row, as he surely will in 2015 unless he drastically changes course.

The problem got a lot more visible last week when UKIP – for the first time – overtook the Liberal Democrats to become Britain’s third political party in a YouGov poll for The Sun. Other polls have pushed the Yellow Peril ahead again but on the whole UKIP and the Liberal Democrats are level-pegging.

I believe on Polling Day this year for local council elections across the UK and the London Mayoral election on 3rd May there will be a) a low turnout and b) a large rise in the vote for smaller parties and independents. The bookmakers are already on to this with Siobhan Benita, the only Independent candidate running to become Mayor of London, having her odds to win the contest slashed from 500-1 to 20-1.

Outside of Planet London, the local election results are going to be very interesting. I predict a collapse in the traditional party votes which will result in some surprise wins. These being local elections, Ipswich is seeing only the Greens contest widely across the Borough with UKIP only contesting the Bixley County by-election.

But this does not mean that the traditional political parties in Ipswich will be immune from the political fallout which is heading their way.

The forming of the Coalition Government by Messrs Cameron and Clegg has severely damaged each party’s respective core vote or the ‘base’, as the Americans call it. The base is a better word as it signifies the party’s key supporters – the ones who cold call on doorsteps, who deliver the leaflets come rain or shine and generally put themselves out there to promote the party and the leader for free. As volunteers, they are not obliged to carry on working even if they are treated like dirt by the hierarchy, they just walk away. And that is what is happening in droves as a result of the way David Cameron and the Tory high command (Osborne, Maude et al) have sacrificed their supporters on the high altar of liberal elitism to show how thoroughly modern they are.

David Cameron has sacrificed his conservative values (if he ever had any) to show how the Conservative Party has changed and he has sacrificed and ridiculed his core supporters in a vain attempt to ‘detoxify’ the party brand. Just by Nick Clegg getting into bed with the Tories has been enough for his supporters to head to the Labour Party. The Liberal Democrats are looking into the political abyss.

The Coalition has achieved one thing: both Conservative and Liberal Democrat membership is plummeting and the number of activists are dwindling. Each party is going to find it difficult to get people to drive old ladies to the polling station come 3rd May as their activists will either be on the golf course or will have decided to save their precious holidays from work for more important matters like sunbathing on a Spanish beach.

Then we come to the wider Conservative vote. Cameron promised so much in Opposition but a lot of floating voters were still not convinced and the base didn’t like the incoherent Big Society message which foolishly Cameron and Osborne put at the centre of their campaign without focus-group testing it first. The end-result was the Conservative Party couldn’t win the General Election – again. But hundreds of thousands of core supporters did come out and vote Conservative just to get Gordon Brown kicked out of Downing Street. But now we have had a Conservative government for two years with no Conservative policy actually implemented – either on the deficit, on Europe, on defence etc. etc. – the base won’t be hoodwinked any more. The only true Conservative policy is the Welfare Reform Bill, ably taken through parliament by Iain Duncan-Smith, but nothing will change in the welfare state until a very sophisticated computer system is developed and installed to administer the whole thing. The history of governments and computers doesn’t bode well for the Welfare Reform Act ever coming into fruition.

Peter Oborne, who seems to change his views depending on the day of the week, wrote this in his Daily Telegraph piece during the week:

The truth is that Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg did not choose to cohabit out of self-interest, but were driven by patriotic motives to join forces to confront Britain’s greatest economic crisis for a century.

Oh, don’t make me laugh! I don’t believe that for a second. Cameron wanted to tick off “PM” on his CV and Clegg is purely about power above principle.
I believe the ordinary voter has a similar view to me. In Bradford West earlier this month, Respect and hard-left politician George Galloway won over 50% of the vote and achieved a 10,000 majority over Labour. Some Tory voters must have voted for Mr Galloway. I’ll say that again: Tory voters must have voted for George Galloway. Not because they have had some kind conversion to Socialism but because they are fed up of their own Conservative Party and the other two traditional main parties and decided to send a message to David Cameron and the Westminster elite.

I don’t think the Bradford West result was a one-off. We will see a similar trend on 3rd May and although this election won’t effect who runs the country on 4th May if the trend continues it will do come 2015.

People are fed up by being led by a liberal elite whose only aim is to appease the chattering classes in metropolitan London at dinner parties in Islington and Notting Hill. These people do not represent ordinary Britons – they do their best to stay away from us ordinary folk in their exclusive streets and gated communities or in their country homes miles from the “dirty” towns. Most people don’t want gay marriage (even most homosexuals), most either want less interference from Europe, which will allow us to deport extremist cleric Abu Qatada on our say-so, or they want out of the EU altogether.

Britain, despite the best efforts of Labour through uncontrolled immigration, is still a conservative country with Christian roots and values. Tony Blair managed – through clever political smoke and mirrors – to pretend to the British people he was leading a ‘Tory-lite’ government but of course behind the curtain Gordon Brown was pulling the economic levers of destruction causing immense damage over 13 years which created a client state consisting of millions dependent on handouts or in non-jobs in the public sector; he destroyed a pension system which was the envy of the world, sold our gold at rock-bottom prices and delivered the biggest peacetime deficit which is still crippling this country today because George Osborne is deliberately failing to get on top of it to appease his liberal chums.

The chickens are about to come home to roost. The tectonic plates are being crushed together and they will soon break apart – this could happen on 3rd May or may take longer but it will happen. The British people have had enough.