There’s no denying May 3rd was a bad night for the Conservatives across Birmingham – that’s why I was so pleased to hold my seat with a majority (241) which was more than ten times what we got in the seat last year (21). However, even after a bad night, the Conservatives did not do as badly as Labour Cllr John Cotton claims in his May 11th blog piece on the results.
Cllr Cotton (who once worked for Edgbaston’s Labour MP so ought to know which wards make up the constituency) claims that in the Edgbaston constituency there are now more Labour Councillors than opposition ones. Sorry Cllr Cotton – but there aren’t!
The current make up of Councillors in the Edgbaston Constituency is 7 Conservatives, and 5 Labour. So clearly there are more Conservative Councillors than Labour ones and the Conservatives will therefore continue to chair the Edgbaston Constituency Commitee (to be renamed District Committee).
The current Labour position in the Edgbaston Constituency is actually considerably worse than it was for several years in the 1990s. In 1995, after two bad elections for the Conservatives, Labour had 8 Councillors in the constituency and the Conservatives only 4. Those eight Labour members were broken down as follows: Bartley Green 2, Edgbaston 2, Harborne 1 and Quinton 3.
That position remained the same in 1996, when John Alden retained Harborne for the Conservatives, John Lines retained Bartley Green for the Conservatives, and James Hutchings (who had lost his seat in 1995) replaced Sir Neville Bosworth in Edgbaston.
There were no Local Elections in 1997, so Labour continued to retain their 8 Labour Councillors in the constituency until the by election in September of that year, when they lost the Harborne seat to Mike Whitby.
In 1998, Vivienne Barton was re-elected in Bartley Green – making it 6 – 6. It was only in 1999, that the Conservatives finally got their majority back in the constituency – when I won one of the Edgbaston seats from Labour, and Jane James was elected in Bartley Green (before she moved to Quinton). Interestingly, this was the first time Bartley Green had EVER had 3 Conservative Councillors despite us having at least one in that ward from 1982 onwards.
Compared to that run, the current Conservative position in the constituency looks quite heartening. Despite a lot of hype and boasts from Labour that Edgbaston Ward would be won by them this year, actually they went backwards in the ward and the Conservatives continue to hold all three seats. Labour also aren’t even close to making a gain in Bartley Green – where again, the Conservatives hold all three seats. Yes, Labour do have 5 Councillors in the constituency – but even after two bad years for the Conservatives, the Labour Councillors are only in two of the four wards. They don’t have the spread across the constituency which they did in the 1990s.
And by the time the next Local Elections come around, Labour will have to start defending in the constituency, when one of their seats (Quinton) comes up for grabs. All in all, I don’t believe this year’s result was quite the Labour triumph in the Edgbaston constituency which some would have us believe. And it certainly didn’t result in a majority of Labour Councillors as Cllr Cotton stated!