Official notices around a polling station

Today is, technically, the day I start my new term of office as a Wandsworth councillor1.

I begin with a thank-you.

A massive thank-you to everyone who voted to re-elect me as a councillor. But also a thank-you to everyone who voted. I’ve never been so naïve to think I was universally popular, and while I’m pragmatic enough to recognise that I only need to be more popular than the fourth most popular candidate, the electoral process can be as much about a collective expression of will as it is about electing individuals.

Let me get the ego out of the way first. It was enormously flattering to be re-elected as a councillor. You would expect me to say that. The sort of thing you expect anyone who has been elected to say. I can only assure you that I found watching the votes being counted a remarkably humbling and touching experience.

Obviously I have no idea what the motives behind each ballot paper was. It might be some votes were cast for me in error, or perhaps simply because the voter disliked other people more than me. However, there will be some in there that reflected a positive decision to vote in my favour and for that I am incredibly grateful and hope I do not let those people down.

Looking across the rest of the borough the results were not what we would have hoped.

I wish John Marsh had been elected in Queenstown, I worked hard—but obviously not hard enough—to get him elected and think he would have been a great champion for the area.

I wish we hadn’t lost the councillors we did. John Locker, for example, was a superb champion for his ward and while I was an executive member I always appreciated his guidance: there is no doubt I did a better job with his support.

But democracy provides wisdom. I’m not sure how, but collectively the electorate collectively gets the result that’s right for the time. Wandsworth is still a Conservative borough, but obviously not quite as Conservative as it was (technically) yesterday. It is for those who are elected to divine the wisdom of the electoral crowd and how to respond.

Returning to my own election (I recognise that I am but one of sixty, but politics—and blogging—requires some ego, so trust you’ll forgive some narcissism) I’m enormously excited to be starting another term of office, and starting my own personal project to see what I can accomplish for Shaftesbury ward. There are, by my reckoning, about 1,442 days until the fourth day after the next ordinary election and I wonder how my end of term report will read.

  1. Councillors terms of office are dated from and until the fourth day after an ordinary election, usually the first Thursday in May, but changed this year to coincide with the European elections. 

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