Last year I promised that, after the Unitary elections, I would return to review the Cornwall Council election results but, given a change of house (twice) and a change of work circumstances, I have not had the opportunity to do so. With things now being a little more settled, I will share some reflections.
The 2009 elections had been an unmititigated disaster for Labour, deeply disappointing for the Liberal Democrats, comforting for the Conservatives and the Independents; for Mebyon Kernow, they had been less than stellar, although they had shown progress whilst UKIP and the Greens had nothing but dashed hopes.
On the face of it, several parties can claim to be pleased with the results of 2013 but, as with all elections, the story is somewhat different when you look more closely. With Cornwall, things are never quite as simple as they first appear.
I will look at the result in each division to reflect upon what happened (and how wrong, or right, my predictions were). As with most of those who had made educated guesses about the results, whilst I predicted UKIP would do well, I did not see what was coming and that was the biggest surprise of the elections for me.
The big disappointment was the big drop in turnout compared to the 2009 elections.
I would direct you to my former posts of April, 2013, where I made my predictions. I apologise for the many grammatical errors, but I managed to lose half my work and had to quickly retype it and made a bit of a mess. I have corrected it to some degree.
For an overall view of the results:
Affiliation Councillors (compared to 2013)
Independents/Unspecified: 37 (+5)
Liberal Democrats: 36 (-2)
Conservatives: 31 (-19)
Labour/Labour and Co-operative: 8 (+8)
UKIP: 6 (+6)
Mebyon Kernow-Party of Cornwall: 4 (+1)
Green Party: 1 (+1)
The Liberal Democrats did extremely well in North Cornwall, disasterously in Kerrier (where they pretty much withdrew),Carrick and Penwith, and had mixed results in Restormel and Caradon. It should be remembered that the Liberal Democrats had had a very bad year in 2009 and some bounceback should have been expected and, in many places, not only did it fail to materialise, they actually fell further.
The Conservatives had an awful election, with the pre-election defections, fallouts and splits not helping them in what was likely to be a difficult set of elections. They did not find candidates to defend several of their seats (sometimes due to the sitting councillor standing under a new banner) and, with the odd exception, suffered serious setbacks.
Labour (and Co-op) appeared to have a good election with them gaining 8 seats compared to the nightmare they had in 2009, but they did not poll as well as they would have hoped in many of their areas of traditional strength (see Kerrier) and lost their sole byelection winner and coucnillor of the last council when Jude Robinson was defeated in Camborne Roskear. They successfully re-established themselves in Falmouth and Penzance, but they still have something to learn from the Liberal Democrats in terms of targeting when it comes to Camborne/Redruth. Their standout result was surely in Mevagissey.
The real story of this election is UKIP, who came out of nowhere in many places to grabb 6 divisions; the real sign of their progress is how disappointed they will be to have just missed out in several other seats. Their biggest disappointment though will be in the old Penwith area where they came second in terms of votes cast, yet failed to win any divisions. This points us towards another interesting political reflection shown in a few places in Cornwall,: where UKIP has a strong history of campigning and standing for election, they usually fared worse than where they had no hsitory. This is certainly the case in much of Penwith and may be partly explained by them not being a new chioce for many voters and also that the others parties were prepared for them. UKIP may have done worse in the Camborne area if the other parties had realised what a threat they were.
Mebyon Kernow-Party of Cornwall had really hoped to make a serious advance at this set of elections and, in light of their hopes, to only increase their number of seats by one since 2009 must be a disappointment. They came very close in several divisions, falling only 26 votes short in Newlyn and Goonhavern and only 13 votes behind in Fowey and Tywardreath. They lost their seat in Camborne when Labour took the Treslothan division but, in the remarkable circumstances of that election, they were only 32 votes behind whilst being in fourth place.
For the Green Party, the delight of finally breaking through in St. Ives with their only winning candidate, Tim Andrewes, taking the laurels with a majority of 132. They failed by just 7 votes in St. Ives East (see the Penwith commentary).
The Independents, for all of their diversity, tend to sit as a group and I have reflected on their electoral history and success or failure with that in mind. They were the only large group to increase their share of seats, but some of those are councillors who have changed parties just before the election.
The preceding posts (or those below on the blog) are for each of the former districts/boroughs of Cornwall.