Does any party have the right to be satisfied after voters lost patience with politics?
- Credit: Archant
So we’ve now had a week to digest the local election results across Suffolk and North Essex – and try to read the runes from a distinctly odd result.
Who were the winners and losers? And what can we tell from the final results? Firstly, the turnout was so low it is impossible to judge anything about future election chances - across the region only about a third of voters turned out which made it a self-selecting opinion poll.
Anyone who thinks they can work out what will happen in the European elections on the basis of these polls is frankly delusional!
But we can tease out several factors about the area's local authorities after these elections - and it doesn't look pretty for the major parties.
Firstly starting in Ipswich. Labour won two seats from the Tories who also lost a seat to the Liberal Democrats.
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It would be churlish not to point out, as Labour leader David Ellesmere did to me on Friday morning, that his group now has the largest membership it has since the mid-1990s. It holds 36 of the 48 seats on the borough.
However that is only part of the story. Labour went into the election looking to take four seats from the Tories, in the event it only took two - Whitton and Rushmere - and they were two seats it would never have lost in 2015 had the local poll not been held on the same day as the General Election.
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Ipswich Labour Party did the bare minimum it needed it claim the day was success as Conservatives held on in Stoke Park and Holywells.
That result could give Ipswich Conservatives some hope for the future - but their crushing defeat by the LibDems in St Margaret's would have been a big blow.
True, they gave up on the seat early in the campaign and switched their attention to Holywells - but to lose by 900 votes in a seat they won four years ago was a real humiliation.
Outside Ipswich, the result took on a surreal element as three Conservative council leaders - Mark Bee, James Waters, and Nick Gowrley - lost their seats altogether. They were defeated by Green, Independent and LibDem candidates respectively.
Add to that the fact that former county council leaders Colin Noble and Jane Storey, and Colchester's Conservative group leader Darius Laws all suffered the wrath of the electorate, and it looks as if election night 2019 was not a time to be a Tory bigwig!
I don't think this was down to any great decapitation strategy across the region - it was a question of chance but it made a good story for us political hacks.
Outside Ipswich, the Labour Party in Suffolk really does look like a disorganised shambles. Its performance was absolutely pathetic.
From not putting up candidates in many parts of Suffolk to failing miserably in areas like Lowestoft where it has traditionally been strong, the party is in a total mess.
In East Suffolk the Tories lost one of their two leaders, along with a deputy leader and former cabinet member. Yet it still won 39 of the 55 seats up for grabs - while Labour won a pathetic seven! The Greens now have four and the LibDems three. The Independent surge here failed to take off - only two seats went to those standing on their own platform.
It was in West Suffolk where the Independents really played a major role. Here they took 15 seats (with another seven taken by a political group calling itself West Suffolk Independents).
Again Labour really failed to make an impact here, winning just five seats. It won two in Babergh and none in Mid Suffolk. That shows the notion of "rural Labour vote" is actually an oxymoron!
Both the LibDems and the Greens have a right to feel reasonably pleased by their campaign - but neither can afford to be complacent.
The LibDems really aren't anywhere near where they were in local elections in the 1990s and early 2000s. Voters will need a long time to forget their role in the coalition.
And while the Greens have done well in places, especially in rural Mid Suffolk, they really need to push on and target more seats in future - possibly by building more informal alliances with the LibDems.
I can't believe that the Greens' success in Mid Suffolk is unconnected with the fact that in many places they were the only opposition to the Conservatives.
Was that because other opposition parties deliberately didn't look too hard for candidates to give them a clear run? If that was the strategy it worked like a dream.