Putting Tory gains in perspective

THE Tories, who have every reason to celebrate their successes south of the River Trent last week, failed to make any discernible progress in northern England, stalling any real chance of winning the next General Election unless Labour goes into serious meltdown.

THE Tories, who have every reason to celebrate their successes south of the River Trent last week, failed to make any discernible progress in northern England, stalling any real chance of winning the next General Election unless Labour goes into serious meltdown.

While the scale of their advance across London and southern England was spectacular, their performance in the urban heartlands of England, coupled with continuing hostility in Scotland and Wales, does not auger well for David Cameron.

While the bookmakers may have made the Tories the favourites to win the next election, Cameron cannot succeed through the south alone. Rural Yorkshire and pockets of Cumbria, Lancashire, and Cheshire are still largely Tory in outlook, but in the big cities it's the Liberal Democrats who are the main opposition to Labour.

I checked the official election websites for Manchester and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The Tories were nowhere, apart from one ward in Newcastle where they finished within striking distance of a Lib Dem winner.


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With two exceptions, East Anglia was hardly a roaring Tory achievement either. They failed to win outright control of Colchester, their gains in Waveney were mostly at the expense of the Independents, and they are bereft of any councillors in Cambridge .

The two beacons were Ipswich and Brentwood. In Ipswich, the three Tory gains meant that, for the first time since 1978, there are more Conservatives on the borough than there are Labour councillors. And in Brentwood, the district represented in parliament by Tory local government spokesman Eric Pickles, the Conservatives picked up six Lib Dem seats.

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But in London - where all seats were contested because elections are only held every four years - it was a different story. For instance, the Tories gained 23 seats in Bexley from Labour while in Ealing, 20 Labour councillors fell to the Conservatives.

The Tories may point to Ealing as the harbinger of success at the General Election - the party which controls Ealing invariable wins the country in a General Election. But while that might have been true in those heady days of the 20th century when the Tories dominated politics, don't forget Conservative MPs were always elected in the Grampians, Edinburgh, Tyneside, Manchester, Liverpool, Bradford, Birmingham and Cardiff. Not any more.

I JOIN others sending get well messages for a speedy recovery to Chris Humphrey, the redoubtable founder of the Official Fidgyitus Party, who has been admitted to Clacton hospital's Peter Bruff ward. Mr Humphrey and his party haves been battling officialdom for the past 24 years and he contested Harwich at the last general election, losing his deposit after winning 154 votes, which was 0.3% of the turnout.

TO the chagrin no doubt of Colchester iconoc1asts battling against the Visual Arts Facility designed to house, among others, Essex University's renowned Latin America art collection, I'm pleased it was endorsed by Tony Blair during the Prime Minister's Questions session last Wednesday otherwise dominated by the prisoner release scandal. Will Colchester Labour Party now join the clamour for Blair to go?

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