Clearly the election results have been a disaster – the Tories held on to Waveney with an increased majority. Locally Labour councilors and the one Green now have less chance of affecting WDC’s plans even if they were capable of getting their act together. Tory council leader Colin Law, the local pantomime villain, held on to his seat although with a much reduced vote.
Most people expected Labour’s Bob Blizzard to win – he has been very active in backing and leading popular local issues – especially the bridge, but also Lowestoft Hospital, the Town Hall and the campaign against the closure of adult wards at Carlton Court Hospital. He had a canvassing team which worked far longer and harder than any other and judging from the number of Labour placards on display they had some effect.
In the town centre we have sensed strong antipathy to the Coalition policies as well as support for UKIP and a lukewarm attitude to Labour. The Lib Dems appeared dead and the Greens have little presence in Lowestoft (but still fielded a lot of candidates).
So why did the Tories win? In spite of a larger electorate (by about a thousand) Peter Aldous’s went up by only about 1500. BB’s vote remained much the same as in 2010. Graham Elliot polled about 500 more.
The Lib Dems collapsed losing nearly seven thousand votes. UKIP, which increased its vote by about five thousand, accounts for the missing numbers.
More examination is needed: voting patterns in the smaller towns for example and any impact of an ageing population.
So why did Labour lose? The “aspirational voter” theory – pushed by New Labour – that Labour failed to attract this undefined group, who switched to the Tories, cannot apply to Waveney. But the Tories did produce a host of spending promises in the last week – including a new bridge for Lowestoft by 2020. Nationally they also stoked up an anti-Scots fear. That, combined with the lack of a clear and vigorous rejection of coalition policies, sunk Labour.
Tory Peter Aldous didn’t need to do much to win, in fact he would have won if he had got the same number of votes as he got in 2010. The key seems to be the failure of Labour to attract additional voters. The lesson of Scotland turning away from Labour was ignored. Labour’s policies were too close to those of the Coalition. Many of those who would have been expected to vote Labour turned to UKIP as something different etc.
LCAC Plans to Fight the Cuts
The Tories are already starting to act on their manifesto and it gives no comfort to the people of Lowestoft: hardship will follow big cuts to welfare and to local services, more privatisation of the NHS channels profits into dodgy corporations, more local schools will be hived off to unaccountable academies and cuts at Lowestoft College and elsewhere continue. Their last minute promises are unfunded and even the bridge promise has gathered some ifs and buts.