Lib Dem 1049.
That means we have 50 councillors in the city. Not bad after 5 years of control and a majority substantially increased on the authority from when the Lib Dems first won it (back in 2004 we had 44 seats).
A bad result for Labour who opted for a 4 month campaign in the hope of appearing as the underdogs trying to claw back the Lib Dem lead. Had they gone for a shorter campaign, they would have gone to the polls at a time when Labour were doing better in the polls and were basking in the rather short lived glow of their victory in the Glenrothes by-election. Their tactical error raises further doubts about their group leader in the city.
As for the BNP I'm not sure whether they will be elated or devastated by the result. No doubt BNP readers of this blog will make their views clear. I guess it depends on which starting point you take. The rise in their vote from the last election will make them happy. If the starting point was their expectation as they went into the final stretch of the campaign, they will be disappointed - not that I would expect them to admit it. Nevertheless, there is a warning in the result for all parties.
And finally, the Tories. Yet again they have failed to register on the radar screen. Whilst a Tory recovery may appear to be taking place throughout the country, the reality on the ground in places like Newcastle and many other metropolitan areas is that the Tories are the distant 4th party. Remember, Fenham was a ward they held in the Thatcher period.
Back to lessons, at least for the Lib Dems. We were in the slightly unusual position of being the dominant party that is in control of the council. Strategies for defending records are different from going on the attack in areas where other parties are in control. Picking up the seat in the more difficult circumstances of not having the luxury of being in opposition is all the more remarkable even with such a small majority in the actual result. Nevertheless, we need to look closely at what worked, what didn't and what needs to be done to counteract opponents. And no doubt opponents will have views on that as well.
So well done Newcastle. And let's have more gains in the future!
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