BEWILDERED IN THE MAZE OF SCHOOLS

9 April 2008

As we glide effortlessly into the unitary set up, let me recall the present political disposition of Cornwall.

In 2005 there were elections for the eighty two county council seats and a general election for the five seats; in 2007 there were elections for the six district councils, elections for the whole council in five of the districts and for a third in Penwith. The results of these give us the present party make-up of Cornwall.

Overall nearly 800 000 votes were cast in the three sets of elections. Here they are in percentages:

General election 2005
Liberal Democrats 44.4, Conservatives 31.8, Labour 15.9, UKIP 5, MK 1.4, Greens 0.7, all others 0.9

County council elections 2005
Liberal Democrats 39.2, Conservatives 24.1, Independents 19.5, Labour 10.5, MK 3.2, Greens 1.3, UKIP 1.1, all others 1.1

District elections 2007
Liberal Democrats 36.1, Conservatives 30.7, Independents 20.0, MK 3.9, Labour 3.5, UKIP 2.5, Greens 0.7, all others 2.6.

There are caveats.

These figures do not compare the same seats over time but different seats. The aim is to give a general county snapshot using the latest figures available in the three sets.

In the county and district elections some seats had more than one councillor elected and so people had more than one vote. The percentages are based on totals of votes not ballot papers. The “others” include unlabelled candidates, Liberals (a separate party from Liberal Democrats), two BNP candidates, and Veritas. Uncontested seats are excluded.

The votes cast for a party depend in part on how many candidates stand for that party though how many candidates a party puts up reflects its organisational and membership health and its estimate of its chances.

The parties perform differently in the seats and these overall figures, which represent general averages of real votes, do not reveal those differences. A couple of very popular candidates do wonders for a small party’s total vote and percentage and make it difficult to assess that party’s general standing with the electorate. These considerations suggest that in local elections at any rate some people do not vote only for a party.

The general election throws up very different results so here are the two local government sets in percentages of votes cast, county 2005 and districts 2007, more than half a million votes:

Liberal Democrats 37.9, Conservatives 26.9, Independents 19.7, Labour 7.5, MK 3.5, UKIP 1.7, Greens 1.1, Others 1.7.

Finally, these figures are about people’s choices. Seats won are a different matter, about power.

The next elections are in spring 2009 for the unitary council.

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Bewildered in the maze of schools: Alexander Pope (1688-1744) An essay on criticism

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