Nigel Farage and Mayor Joe Anderson of Liverpool have gravitational pull at the moment. The effect is similar to dark matter; that’s the mystery force that’s controlling the behaviour of the universe. You can’t see it but you can detect it from the effect it has on other planets or in our case politicians.
IDES OF MAY IN ST HELENS.
Marie Rimmer has been deposed as the leader of St Helens Council. That’s a shame because we need more women leading our local councils Marie has been a doughty fighter for her town and didn’t think much of the idea of a Merseyside regional mayor. This was partly because she thought it would mean domination by Liverpool and particularly Joe Anderson. Marie has been replaced by her deputy Barry Grunewald. He learnt the dark arts of politics in Labour’s North West headquarters in Warrington.
The suggestion is that Barry is more disposed to the idea of a city region mayor. The gravitational force of Mayor Joe may be at work. However it is up to the government to bring in the reform and my betting is that there will be little progress on that front in this parliament.
UKIP IN THE NORTH.
UKIP’s breakthrough in terms of councillors elected was predominantly in east and south east England where Eastern European workers have been prepared to pick the strawberries and dig the potatoes that British people aren’t prepared to do.
They secured very few council places in Downtown land. Two in North Yorkshire, bordering Leeds, where the Conservatives retained a substantial majority. They lost their seat in Derbyshire where Labour gained control and are not represented in Cumbria. The council is still hung but with Labour gaining ten seats, a continuation of the unlikely Labour/Tory coalition seems unlikely.
Now we come to Lancashire. Some commentators have said Labour should have taken the county outright. That was a big ask following the drubbing they took in 2009. 22 gains gives them largest party status and political momentum.
Coalitions have not been part of the Lancashire tradition. During the only previous period when no party had overall control (1985-89) Labour had minority rule. This option is open to Jenny Mein or she could do a deal with the Lib Dems who performed better than their national opinion poll ratings.
However don’t underestimate Geoffrey Driver. As I write he has still not conceded power a week after polling day. UKIP may not have elected any councillors in the Red Rose county but they certainly exerted a powerful gravitational force on Mr Driver’s Tories. In twenty wards the combined Conservative/UKIP vote was greater than the winning total for Labour or other parties.
Driver faces Gordon Brown’s dilemma three years ago in trying to create a rainbow coalition. He needs more than the six Lib Dems. If the single Green Party councillor won’t play ball, The Tories would need two of the three Independents. It looks a bit rickety for Mr Driver who needs to keep his eye on ambitious Lytham councillor Tim Ashton.
You always need to watch your back in politics. Just ask Marie Rimmer.