Why Labour gifted victory to the Conservatives

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I’ll start by saying this: I stood for the Lib Dems and lost to Labour. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but it was a fair fight and I’ve got a lot of time and respect for the candidates against whom I stood.

What frustrates me isn’t that I lost. It’s that Canterbury missed the best opportunity to kick out the Tories for a generation. Who knows when the political landscape will be once again as promising.

And I’m putting the blame firmly at Labour’s feet.

Let me explain why. The city of Canterbury returns 11 councillors. The remaining 28 come from Whitstable, Herne Bay and the villages.

Labour and the Lib Dems both went into the election with four councillors a piece. Both wanted to increase their numbers.

Canterbury city is dead ground for the Tories. Historically, Northgate has been Labour, and the others largely Lib Dem. In 2015 the Tories had a good showing and took three seats in Barton, and both seats in St Stephens. This time the Tories were lucky to hold onto one seat in St Stephens, and that’s only due to the incumbent’s large personal following.

The Tories were always going to lose in the city. They knew it and didn’t even try to fight it. However, along the coast and in the villages it’s a different story.

The travesty of this election is that nobody tried to stop them. With the exception of Gorrell ward in Whitstable, where Labour’s hard work paid off and they claimed all three seats, the remaining Tories coasted to victory with barely an effort.

All the parties have target wards. These are the wards in which they concentrate their efforts and resources to try and secure victories. Non-target wards might get a leaflet or two but are unlikely to be the focus of sustained campaigning.

Neither the Lib Dems nor Labour seriously targeted the coastal seats. The Lib Dems don’t have the manpower we once did, so for us it was too much of a stretch. However, Labour’s membership since Rosie Duffield took office has swelled significantly. Despite having the supporters and the funds, they chose to take on the Lib Dems in Canterbury rather than fight the Tories on the beaches and in the villages.

Now I’m not naïve. I realise that persuading Lib Dem voters to switch to Labour is an easier prospect than converting Tories. But what was this election about? Was it about winning the most seats or was it about kicking out the Tory administration. The former is an exercise in vanity. The latter would have been far more meaningful.

And importantly, those ‘safe’ Tory seats were all winnable. Tankerton came within four votes of falling. In Nailbourne, sustained campaigning by Lib Dem Mike Sole kicked out the Tory leader by a huge majority. Labour’s victory in Whitstable further proves that the Tories are only still there because nobody tried to stop them.

For Labour the priority was winning more seats not kicking out the Tories. Had they focused their energy in Herne Bay and Chartham, they might have won a couple fewer seats overall, but the Tories would still have lost to the Lib Dems in Canterbury, and all that was needed was for five more Conservative councillors to lose their seats and they would have lost control of the council.

I’m sure some of my readers will see this as a dig at my left-leaning political friends, but I know there were a number of people wearing red rosettes last week that were spitting feathers for the same reason.

Politics in this country is broken. It’s time for all of us to look past the colour of the rosette and start working together.

7 COMMENTS

  1. What stopped me voting for Labour was their behaviour on social media, particularly the Canterbury residents facebook page.
    There was a huge amount of aggression and belittling from Labour members. People standing behaved poorly too.

    Amy Licence standing in Sturry constantly spammed the group and went way too far when she tried to make herself a victim after some idiot was rude. It wasn’t pleasant but she acted like she was the next Jo Cox and it was obvious what she was doing.

    In Canterbury Wincheap I think there was Paul Todd who tried to take credit for some road safety work campaigning mums had done.

    I dont like Rosie Duffield, i think she’s lazy and also tries to play victim, but local elections are different and Labour had a chance to win me over. In the end I voted Lib Dem.

  2. I am not a member of the Labour Party and have no partisan reason for commenting on the allegation that Rosie Duffield is lazy. This is not my experience and it is not the experience of others who have taken cases to her.

  3. It would probably help if Labour wasn’t a stinking cesspit of ugly anti-Semitic racism.

    Cue whataboutism in relation to UKIP.

    Yes, they’re ugly racists too, which is why I didn’t vote for them (although they weren’t an option anyway).

    I’m thankful that my ward has Nick Eden-Green, otherwise I’d have spoiled my paper. I’ve no particular love for the Lib Dems either, but if anyone is more honourable, decent and loving of Canterbury than Nick, I’ve yet to meet them.

  4. Alex: dreadful, ill-informed rubbish. I’m afraid there will be no column from me tomorrow as I cannot accept your persistent partisan use of the Journal to push fact free nonsense. I think you’ve lost sight of why you set the Journal up, and if it is to be no more than a vehicle for LibDem propaganda then I won’t write for you again. Retract this, please.

  5. Alex you belittle the efforts that labour made in West Bay ward. They put up an excellent candidate in Nigel who worked very hard. It just so happens that I worked hard too. The electorate voted the way they did because they were mature enough to know they were voting on ‘Local’ issues NOT the juvenile antics in Westminster.

    Cllr Peter Vickery-Jones West Bay ward.

  6. When The Labour get rid of the vile Anti-Semite Corbyn they might have a tiny chance. Otherwise they have a chance of a snowball in Hell.

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