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Posted by: John Brace | 11th May 2011

The people of Bidston & St. James, what’s happening on Wirral Council?

Many people yesterday phoned the Lib Dem Action Team hotline saying that they’d voted for us and thanking us for our help. Certainly we will be around for a good time to come as we work hard all year round not just at election time.

I appreciate people taking the time to call and let us know how things are progressing. Yesterday unfortunately our dog Hannah died, both myself and Leonora felt better by the kind and thoughtful way residents were towards us.

However, there is now a period of political uncertainty for a week and a half. This is frustrating from a casework point of view as there are no spokespeople to work with. For the next couple of weeks the Lib Dems will be working out a deal that will result in one of three outcomes. These are as follows:-

a) Scenario A – carry on the partnership with the Conservatives but renegotiated. Although the Conservatives had no overall gain in councillors, most thought that as Cllr Knowles had been elected under a Labour banner that he would lose his seat in Seacombe to a Labour candidate. Thanks to Cllr Gardiner’s resignation the Conservatives picked up a second seat in Greasby/Frankby/Irby. However, they did make two other losses to Labour in Wallasey. As the Conservatives gain seats from the Lib Dems, it changes the total of Lib Dem/Conservative councillors from forty-two to thirty-seven.

b) Scenario B – reform the partnership with the Labour Party. Although Labour now have the largest number of councillors, they are only two ahead of the Conservatives and with seats ping-ponging between the two this could quite easily change back. Many residents remember what Wirral Council was like under decades of Labour control and are keen for the partnership that’s run Wirral Council to be given a chance for another year. Bear in mind that for ten of the last twelve months Wirral Council has been run to a Labour drawn up budget (apart from slight changes made as a result of the emergency budget).

c) Scenario C – A Labour minority administration. This has downsides and upsides:-

i) gives Labour something to point to next year that they’ve achieved
ii) the Con/LD councillors could easily vote down anything they don’t like
iii) would allow the Conservatives and Lib Dems to both be parties of opposition which may lead to electoral gains in 2012.

d) An all-party administration (which is as they’d say in racing a 1000-1 outside chance)

Whatever happens the residents of Bidston & St. James have sent a clear message. They were told how they voted would cause the government to fall. It hasn’t at a national level but the Lib Dems have woken up to what their members have been telling their elected representatives. For a good while I’ve been saying Labour has been pursuing a policy of fear, uncertainty and doubt. This has worked well for them and is partly genuine as they don’t know what’s going on.

The problem though is that both the partnership at Wirral Council and nationally is of two halves. Both parties only have half the picture so the Labour plan was to use a Divide and Conquer strategy. Certainly their influence over picking on Nick Clegg as part of the AV campaign was one tied into their core strategy of targeting Lib Dem voters.

The problem that Labour have is that their strategy has backfired. It has if anything brought the two parties closer to each other as whereas the Lib Dems (or a good majority of the party) were at least friendly towards Labour, now they don’t like the way they’re behaving.

It’s strange of Cllr. Foulkes and his Labour councillors to pursue a strategy of going after the Lib Dems for five weeks, then be all smiles and wanting our help after Labour have lost control in 2010 and are desperate to get a sniff of power. Admittedly all parties behave like this to varying degrees, the Conservatives saw this coming and have (thankfully) told the public some of the skeletons in the cupboard of the previous Labour administration.

What will happen? It’s up to the ten Wirral Lib Dem councillors to decide. Although some residents think I hold the position of councillor, I do not with Wirral Council. The Mayoress of Wirral Mrs. Jennings is unelected so am I, as like with the Mayoress it’s to do with who I’m married to.

However, what’s clear is that neither the Lib Dems or Conservatives can withstand the type of campaign Labour waged this year next year without it causing problems. Whereas this may lead to the political stalemate it has for at least the last few years eventually a party will get its act together and get the necessary 34 seats.


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