Labour lost over 20 seats in Northumberland last week. From having a clear majority, they came out of the elections with 17 seats, having endured a sort of electoral liposuction that left them considerably slimmed down. The Conservatives fared better though compared to the rest of the country, their performance was not fantastic. They went from 14 to 17 seats but their leader lost to a 20 year old Lib Dem in Alan Beith's constituency. The Lib Dems increased their seats from 14 to 26.
This electoral arithmetic leaves unanswered who will run Northumberland. No party has a majority and deals will have to be struck to create an administration with a majority. The question is who will strike what with who?
Perhaps we should look to Castle Morpeth, one of the Northumberland district councils about to be abolished, to get a clue as to possible outcomes. In the town hall in Morpeth, Tories and Labour cobbled together a power sharing scheme last year that was designed to shut the Lib Dems out of power. In one other place in the North East, the Tories have jumped into bed with Labour - in Stockton where the Tories prop up the minority Labour administration. So Lab/Con co-operation (collusion?) is not unknown in the North East.
That is their right so if their aim is to put together a power sharing deal in Northumberland they are entitled to do just that. And I have heard on the grapevine of communications having taken place between the two parties. What I don't know is what was discussed. We await the outcome....