Gale`s Local Election View – 11th May 2011
Local voters may have been not a little surprised to hear on BBC Radio on Friday, Mr Ed Balls, suggesting that the Labour Party had somehow defeated the Tories in Thanet.
It is true, certainly, that my own party lost one seat to Labour – sadly, the hardworking Michael Jarvis in Dane Valley – in North Thanet , and a small handful of other seats in Thanet South. The electoral arithmetic, though, still leaves Bob Bayford`s Conservatives as the largest single party on 27 seats, with Labour on 26 and with one new Independent (in Birchington South) sitting alongside the two re-elected independent members.
That, with respect, does not represent a triumph for Mr.Miliband. His troops on the ground can take small comfort from the fact that the electorate, confronted with a coalition government that has to take hard and unpopular decisions in order to repair our broken economy, has not forgotten that it was only a year ago that the coalition took control from a Labour administration that has been the author of our present national financial situation. In Thanet the Labour Party has no Liberal Democrats to bear the brunt of criticism and in a straight fight they have failed to set out any plan to capture and excite the imagination of the electorate.
That the widely-predicted Labour victory in Thanet vaporised as Thursday night wore on into Friday is due, in large part, to a Conservative administration that is facing huge challenges – not least arising from the closure of Pfizer - but that, with skill and dogged determination has nevertheless adopted policies and re-shaped the budget in a way that has set the Island on the road to recovery.
Thanet`s Tories do not have an overall majority but were the figures to be reflected in a national election The Queen would be asking Councillor Bayford to form an administration.
What is important now, in the interests of the people of Thanet, is that there is continuity of successful policy and governance and that all of those elected as Councillors recognise that they face a clear duty to seek a consensus and to ensure, as we are endeavouring to ensure in the national coalition, that authority is exercised wisely. That places a considerable responsibility upon those that may believe that they hold the balance of power . We have a very real opportunity to see the tide of decline and deprivation turn and it is an opportunity that, at every level of government, we must seize.