Well it was a glorious start to May, the weather was quite simply divine. This is echoed in another blog entitled View from the High Peak I do recommend a look, the pictures are lovely and inspired me to put a few landscapes of the Goyt Valley onto this submission.
The weather could have not have been better for the May local County Council Elections. One would have hoped that it would have not put people off from voting, however, the turn out over Derbyshire was 34% which is a touch disappointing.
My numbers come from two sources the Derbyshire County Council website and the BBC one.
Derbyshire County Council went from No Over All Control to Labour controlled. With Labour gaining 18 council seats, the Conservatives loosing 13, the Lib Dems loosing 4 and and Independent loosing 1.
Across the country the results were;-
Conservative 1116 councillors -335
Labour 538 councillors + 291
Liberal Democrats 352 councillors -124
UKIP 147 councillors +139
Independents 165 councillors +24
Green Party 22 councillors + 5
Residents Association 12 councillors +2
Mebyon Kernow 4 councillors +1
Liberal 3 councillors +1
Independant Health & Concern 2 councillors 0
British National Party 0 coucnillors -3
English Democrats 0 councillors 0
Idle Toad Party 0 councillors -1
There was one vacant seat. Why I have no idea?
The breakdown in my own area of Buxton is as follows,
Buxton North & East
Margaret Applby UKIP 495 votes
Caitlin Bisknell Labour 1138 votes
Pam Reddy Conservative 795 votes
Graham Scott Lib Dems 84 votes
Turn out 28.27%
Matthew Bain Green Party 219 votes
Tony Kemp Conservative 1123 votes
Bob Morris Independent 771 votes
Fiona Sloman Labour 952 votes
Christopher Weaver Lib Dems 90 votes
Turn out 32.5%
Across the High Peak areas the total votes cast were
Conservative 9557 33%
Labour 10983 38%
Lib Dems 3452 12%
UKIP 2593 9%
Greens 1487 5%
Independents 771 3%
Total Votes 28,843
Labour won Buxton North & East, two seats in Glossop & Charlesworth and Ethrow
Conservatives won in Buxton West and Chapel & Hope Valley.
Lib Dems won in Whaley Bridge & New Mills.
UKIP, The Greens or Independents didn't win any division but an interesting point is that they didn't stand in every electoral division of the High Peak.
The popular rumour is that UKIP took away votes from the Conservatives. This is true, but they also seem to have taken votes from the other parties. One could argue that if they hadn't stood in Buxton North & East that the UKIP vote would have gone to the Conservatives which would have beaten Labour's Caitlin Bisknel's 1138 votes with 1290 votes.
But I don't think it's that easy.
UKIP are certainly the party of protest at the moment, I remember when the Greens became briefly the third party in UK politics. However it is UKIP's willingness to discuss the political elephant in the room, EUROPE, that also makes them attractive as well as people being fed up with the usual three main political parties. I think UKIP have made a dent in all the political parties locally.
Compared with the 2009 elections the Lib Dem vote has crashed in Buxton. In 2009 it was 1463 this year it was 174. As I noted the turn out wasn't great but it is quite a drop. The Lib Dems may be unpopular as they are in coalition with the Conservatives. Perhaps the door swings both ways in this leading to the Lib Dem unpopularity brushing off on the Conservatives as well. UKIP didn't stand in Buxton during the county council elections in 2009.
Also have the boundary changes had an impact on the results?
On the day there was a Labour car driving around Buxton, with flags and a humorous horn, gaining peoples attention. Twitter was quite active with mostly Labour but also UKIP tweeting. Something the Conservatives, Greens and Lib Dems cottoned onto and started tweeting later that morning. A thing of note is how Caitlin Bisknel used her twitter account to encourage people to get out and vote Labour, with the hashtag #fairdealforderbyshire used by the Labour faithful did seem to continually bring the party to mind. Her own blog had a mirror of the canvasing leaflet noting why to vote for her and her party. On the other hand Fiona Sloman the other Labour candidate in Buxton isn't an avid tweeter, she does seem to go leafleting and speak to people on the doorstep quite a lot, but did her lack of tweeting before and during election day have an impact on the vote. Caitlin won the seat she was contesting Fiona didn't? Did it provide an edge to the campaigning, an extra arrow in the quiver?
Question? Do social networking sites in particular Twitter have such an impact on how people vote these days?
It's an interesting question. Scientists have a phrase called the Illusion of Truth where if a subject is repeated often enough then the more people are likely to believe the subject or fact. Regardless of empirical data. Can Twitter and sites like it create an Illusion of Truth with regard to activity or popularity? Leading to candidates becoming more well known and regarded? Is there a flip side where a candidate could become notorious and disliked, or at least appear so? The simple answer is I don't know and with not having one shred of empirical date to prove or disprove I suppose I should shut up.
UKIP do seem to be more active than the other parties on Twitter as well, as well as bloggers like Peasant in Buxton which is worth a look. They note the similarity between the Labour & Conservative leaflets. Saving the ambulance stations in the High Peak (until more information is available I would look at them far from saved), gritting the roads, fixing pot holes. They note where's the difference. They do have a point. It reminds me of a conversation when Tony Blair was leader of the Labour party. A friend asked me which Conservative party would I vote for Red or Blue? What UKIP seem to offer is plain talking difference from the other parties.
I also note that no one has said how valiantly they have defended the Cobar Birthing Unit which was lost.
UKIP have done quite well considering the local paper just noted they were standing and there was no explanation of what the candidate stood for or was wanting to improve.
I spoke to a few people, friends and work colleagues, who all didn't vote.
A group of nurses were very non-plussed about it noting that they only voted in General Elections and weren't really bothered with the local situation. Various friends who after work decided a visit to the beer garden or a nice iced G&T on the balcony was preferable to voting as it was such a nice day, and it was.
Did the weather lead to more voter apathy than encouraged people to vote?
Perhaps Mrs Sea Duck's "They're all as bad as each other," attitude is more widespread than I thought? Mrs D did vote or at least spoiled a ballot paper and put it in the box.
Is it the ultimate protest vote? Where people turn round and say, no I'm not voting for any of you.
Would a broader spectrum of political parties and candidates encourage more people to vote?
What about the Greens? Well according to my own figures 5% of the High Peak voted Green. Their one tweet on the 2nd of May from @DerbysGreens was "Please remember to vote today." A touch meek perhaps, lacks a certain energy. They're highest percentage of the vote in Derbyshire and the High Peak was from the Chapel & Hope division with 10.2%. They seem to have a loyal but small following in the High Peak.
Anyway Derbyshire county council has gone red with a Labour majority. Congratulations to all those who won seats. Now remember the people who put you there and work for us and not just for your own political party.