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The Lib Dems are still listening

May 8, 2008

Whilst the local election results across the country were good for the Lib Dems, with us pushing Labour into third place, they weren’t as good as we’d hoped in Hastings.We lost two of our council seats to Labour, although we lost more of our percentage share of the vote to the Conservatives. We are down to 18.9% of the vote, as compared to our national standing of 25%.

This is obviously disappointing for us, but it is to be expected in what is likely to be one of the hardest fought seats at the forthcoming General Election. It is also more likely to happen when we don’t get the same crack of the whip in the local media as do the other two parties.

Interestingly, on the basis of the share of the vote that we obtained, and if we operated a system of proportional representation for local elections, we would not have lost any seats at all.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night however was that the Labour vote stood up. I think this is due, in large part, to how well-thought-of Michael Foster is as the Labour MP for Hastings & Rye.

Michael’s parliamentary stationery budget must have taken a battering over the past few weeks as he has been writing letter after letter, trying to shore up the Labour vote, as disaster after disaster issued forth from Downing Street. Well he has managed it, and congratulations to him and the Labour team.

The Tories took 42.3% of the vote as compared to 44% nationally. This must be slightly disappointing for them, given that they have hopes of re-capturing the parliamentary seat.

As for us Lib Dems, we have much work to do. We are obviously at a disadvantage in respect of the resources that are available to the other two parties, however we must also get back out onto the doorstep as soon as possible and listen to why local people weren’t prepared to trust their vote to the Lib Dems this time around.

We have made a play in our literature about how we would like to change the culture of local government – to make it more responsive to local people. We have said that we are better listeners than the other two parties. Now more than ever, we will need to prove it!

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