It was a great night at Birmingham Council House last night as the Conservatives held on to all the seats we were defending (including several – such as Harborne, Bournville, Northfield & Vesey) which we lost last time they were fought in 2012. We also gained Kings Norton from a Labour Cabinet Member, and Kingstanding from the Labour Group Secretary.
There was certainly plenty for Conservatives to cheer about as the results came in.
And with a General Election in just 11 and a half months, it was interesting to see which MPs and PPCs were in the Council House Press Room and which weren’t. No sign when I got there of Jack (the Mac) Dromey (though I gather he was there earlier before the results started coming in) – who finds himself with more Conservative Councillors in his constituency going into the 2015 General Election than there were when he won the seat in 2010.
No sign of Gisela Stuart either as far as I could tell. Labour’s Team GS (as they like to style themselves) did badly in the Edgbaston constituency. In my opinion it all started to go wrong for them when Gisela started scaremongering before Christmas that one of our libraries was closing, when it wasn’t. Cllr James McKay’s shambolic handling of the refuse collection part of his portfolio must have caused damage too. He’s part of Team GS, and a team is only as strong as its weakest link. Edgbaston Ward remained Tory, Harborne was won by the Tories despite falling to Labour the last two times it was contested, in Quinton the Labour majority was down to 700, and in Bartley Green Labour were humiliatingly beaten into third place.
I didn’t see Northfield Labour MP Richard Burden there either. It was a bad night for Labour in his constituency. The Tories got a huge majority in Northfield Ward, and increased the majority in Weoley from just 2 last time to over 500 this time. We gained Kings Norton knocking out a Labour Cabinet member in the process, and the only seat Labour held in the constituency was by a slender majority about 70. Labour no longer have overall control of the District Committee which is now split 6-6. None of this bodes well for Mr Burden when he finds himself facing the excellent Conservative candidate Rachel Maclean at the 2015 General Election.
And where was Yardley Labour PPC Jess Phillips? John Hemming was in the Council House Press Room, but I saw no sign of his Labour challenger. Hardly surprising perhaps as in what is a Labour target seat for 2015, Jess Phillip’s team got hammered – failing to gain a single ward from the Lib Dems, including Acocks Green and South Yardley which they had picked up in the last two rounds of local elections (before she was chosen as PPC), and being beaten into an embarrassingly poor third place in Sheldon. Her chances of getting elected in Yardley look a lot slimmer today – as does her chance of ever getting re-elected in Longbridge in 2016.
But one PPC who was present at the Council House last night was Robert Alden who will be standing in Erdington for the Conservatives. His majority of 1000 in Erdington Ward was impressive. With Erdington Ward solid for the Tories (our majority more than doubled over 2012), and the Conservatives gaining two of the Kingstanding Council seats (previously rock solid Labour) in just three months, he had plenty to cheer about!