The polls are closed, the counting is complete and the seismic shift in the political landscape of the borough has… drum roll… not happened. With all wards now declared, the Conservatives have held Richmond – no surprise there – but with an increased majority. In 2010 the Council comprised 30 Tory councillors and 24 Lib Dems. After yesterday’s vote, that now becomes 39 Conservatives and 15 Liberal Democrats.
East Sheen has returned three Tory Councillors, including the Blue Baron himself, making another episode of The True-man Show a certainty.
“And what of Twickenham?” you cry. Well, in Twickenham Riverside there were rumblings of a possible upset especially with the UKIP charge being led by Tory defector and station-opposer Scott Naylor. The result? The Conservatives returned three councillors, just like in 2010. Susan Chappell the incumbent topped the list followed by newbies Benedict Dias and Helen Hill. The Lib Dems led the ‘also rans’, then the Green Party candidate, then Labour and bringing up the rear, Scott Naylor and his fellow Ukippers. UKIP’s strong campaigning yielded fewer than 300 votes for each candidate. Ouch! We wonder if ‘Nails’ might have actually fared better standing as an independent.
In St Margarets and North Twickenham, previously a split ward, the Liberal Democrats picked up all three seats, a gain of one councillor at the expense of Conservative Chris Harrison. If you live in that ward, Geoff Acton, Ben Khosa and newbie Alexander Ehmann are your class reps.
South Twickenham stayed blue as Clare Head, David Marlow and David Porter all held their seats with very comfortable majorities. There was no UKIP presence here seat although the Green candidate did beat the Labour trio.
In West Twickenham, what was previously a ward of three Lib Dems has ended up with a yellow and blue split with Liberal Democrats Piers Allen and Helen Lee-Parsons being joined by Tory Jane Boulton. Heathfield returned two conservative and one Lib Dem, a gain of one blue seat over 2010. And that forms a bit of a theme in other wards across the Borough with the Conservatives gaining individual seats from the Lib Dems here and there, such as in Fulwell and Hampton Hill, Hampton, and Hampton North, to give them their increased majority.
Interestingly, the Conservatives’ share of the vote was unchanged from 2010, 44.9% compared to 44.3%, while the Lib Dem share dropped from 42.2% to 31.8%. The Lib Dem votes appear to have gone to Labour and the Greens who both increased their share compared to 4 years ago (12.5% v 9.5% and 6% v 2.5% respectively). With 3.9%, UKIP made a small impression. It’s hard to think of disaffected Lib Dems going purple so perhaps these ‘newKips’ came from the blue corner which, given the stability of the Tory share, could suggest some Lib Dems defecting to the Conservatives to make up that shortfall. Either way, this feels a lot like an election lost by the Liberal Democrats rather than won by the Conservatives. Turnout was 46%.
The Conservatives will be delighted with the result and the Liberal Democrats will be left pondering what went wrong for them. And perhaps Vince Cable will be getting a little nervous as he looks ahead to next year’s general election.
So there you have it, check back soon for more news and views.
[post updated to reflect final results]