As I mentioned at the end of last week the nominations for the council elections closed last week and the statement of people nominated was published today. The full list can be downloaded from the council.

This is the sort of thing that only really interests anoraks like me, but to give you the highlights.

Every ward has a full slate of Conservative, Labour and (surprisingly) Liberal Democrat candidates. I don’t think the Lib Dems have managed that in my memory. Having said that, I’m not sure how committed they are, I know at least one has publicly stated being a paper candidate, and Layla Moran, their parliamentary candidate is also standing for council in Latchmere.

The Greens have fielded a number of candidates, with at least one per ward. Four years ago they managed to beat Labour in a number of places, so might be interesting to watch.

Then there are a few ‘others’:

  • A Christian Peoples Alliance candidate in Latchmere
  • An independent candidate in Southfields
  • A Communist in Tooting
  • And most disappointing of all, a BNP candidate in West Hill

I believe Wandsworth is a remarkably cohesive borough, so it’s a real pity that they feel there’s enough division here to field a candidate (even worse, they are supposedly fielding a candidate in the Putney parliamentary election). What’s particularly interesting, however, is the ward and constituency they have chosen: the BNP takes votes from Labour – so chosing a Conservative held ward and a Conservative held constituency does not seem terribly logical. Given that they won’t win and their aim is, one assumes, a good showing, they’d have been better somewhere with a stronger Labour vote.

I recognise that reports of meetings I attended are dull. Frankly, they are dull for me. Last night’s full council was a classic example of why.

I have a lot of time for the Labour Party in Wandsworth, I think they have provided some good opposition to the council, but actually, that’s mainly come from their leader, Tony Belton. Without him, I don’t think there’s any doubt they would not be much of a force. Last night’s debates largely proved this.

At the previous council meeting (which was only to set the council tax) their arguments were “Yeah, Lord Ashcroft”. Nothing to do with the council, and nothing to do with council tax setting. Last night, they developed a new line of attack: “Yeah, Mark Clarke.”

Rather than debating council policy they spent more time trying to attack a Conservative Parliamentary candidate than anything else. A sign, perhaps, that they are worried about the Tooting seat?

We did try and debate Tooting. Sadly Rex Osborn, a Tooting councillor, could offer nothing better than saying everything good in Tooting was because of the residents and businesses, and everything bad because of the council. Our problem, it seems, was that we are too heavy handed with enforcement, except when we aren’t because then we should be heavier. And we don’t have any vision, because if we did, we’d be encouraging more people to go to the bingo hall. And we’re not clairvoyant, because he had photos of problems which we subsequently had to clear up.

And that was the corker. Like a Liberal Democrat on Glum Councillors he had a series of photos where rubbish had been dumped or the pavement blocked, which the council had to clear up. The complaint was not that the council didn’t clear the problems, but that the problems existed in the first place – and here he conveniently forgot the residents and businesses good, council bad line. Perhaps hoping we’d all think the council has been dumping mattresses or re-arranging shop displays.

I’ve repeatedly said that the real strength of Tooting Together is the together element. We clearly rely on residents and businesses to keep pavements clear and not to litter or flytip – but when the minority (and it is a small minority) step out of line we will act quickly to rectify the situation. To try and spin the whole thing in the way Labour did shows they are out of ideas at exactly the time they need them.

If that is the best Labour have to offer, it can hardly be a surprise that they are worried about losing to the Conservatives, and maybe even to the pothole pointers of the Liberal Democrats.

You can tell the election is close when the Lib Dems start selecting for their no-hope seats like Battersea – and finally they have selected their candidate: Layla Moran.

I’ll start off with the things I think are good about her:

  • She uses a Mac

But there are lots of things wrong with the Lib Dems. One of my main complaints is that they don’t really have a coherent national policy. Much of their success is down to the ability of their candidates to say on thing in one seat and something totally different in the seat next door – simply because they are trying to please the audience and have the comfort of knowing that because they will never form a government they will never see those inconsistencies tested nationally.

I once saw it close-up representing the Conservatives in a debate against Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates. After many questions the two main parties would state their opinion, but the Lib Dem would return the question to the audience, get a quick straw poll on their opinion and then follow up with the killer line “I’m glad that’s what you said, because it’s exactly what I passionately believe.”

But the Lib Dems are not really a force in Battersea or Wandsworth. Four years ago during the council elections I got two Lib Dem leaflets, both homemade by individual candidates (as I recall they broke election law by not containing the imprint), neither mentioning the other and both with the same message: “We know we won’t win the council, but it would be awfully nice if you gave me just one of your votes, just so there’s one of us there.” While I credit their commitment in doing their own thing it was indicative that the Lib Dems put no resource into Battersea.

In Battersea, just as in Wandsworth and the country as a whole the elections are about whether it’s the Conservatives or Labour party in charge on 7 May. I certainly hope that in both Wandsworth Town Hall and Downing Street it’s the Conservatives.

You might notice a remarkable similarity with Lesson 1 – Taking credit and with good reason.  It’s basically the same lesson.

Rectory Lane residentsThis lesson comes from the Liberal Democrats via the Wandsworth Guardian.  I won’t deny I’m a little mischievous posting this.

And that almost makes me a Liberal Democrat.

Many years ago they published their handbook ‘Effective Opposition’ which advised, amongst other things, that candidates should “be wicked, act shamelessly, stir endlessly”.  It’s one of those things that came back to haunt them, even a few months ago it was still being quoted in the national Guardian blog (and I should point out that there are comments disowning the publication after the article). I’m being wicked and stirring by highlighting this particular shameless political trick.

The story is simple:

Residents are concerned about the noise and damage caused by lorries using roads they shouldn’t be on. They organise a petition. The council responds by increasing enforcement against the lorries and repairing damage caused.

The Liberal Democrats, acting shamelessly, put out a leaflet taking credit for it all.

And there we have our lesson, if you’re a Liberal Democrat don’t worry too much about the facts – just take credit.

It was a fairly good night for the Conservatives in London – three of London’s eight MEPs were returned as Conservatives.  Congratulations to Charles Tannock, Syed Kamall and Marina Yannakoudakis on their elections.

It’s also pleasing that the BNP did not win a seat here.  Though disturbing that they managed to take two seats in the north.  Personally, I’m most depressed about the seat they won in Yorkshire and Humber since that area also covers the part of Linconshire in which I was born.

The results in Wandsworth were very good for the Conservatives, where we got just over twice as many votes as the second place Labour party.  In fact, it generally followed my impression from the doorstep.  The Greens took third place, beating the Liberal Democrats into 4th.  The BNP came seventh – and polled much worse in Wandsworth than in London as a whole, in keeping with my feeling that Wandsworth is generally an inclusive borough.  They certainly have nothing like the level of support to even come close to seriously contesting a council seat.

Having said that, one BNP vote is one too many.  While some are quick to condemn any BNP voter, I do not believe most are motivated by racism (a characteristic the BNP do a lot to hide) but instead because they have concerns or frustrations the main parties have failed to address.  Certainly something the major parties in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber need to consider.

Parties getting more than 1,000 votes in Wandsworth were:

Party Wandsworth votes Wandsworth %age London votes London %age
Conservative 26,819 39.04% 479,037 27.36%
Labour 13,041 18.98% 372,590 21.28%
Green 9,050 13.17% 190,589 10.88%
Liberal Democrat 8,240 11.99% 240,156 13.72%
UKIP 4,441 6.46% 188,440 10.76%
Christian Party 1,598 2.33% 51,336 2.93%
BNP 1,588 2.31% 86,420 4.94%

You can get the full results for Wandsworth from the Wandsworth Council website and for London from the BBC News website