The local election for Crewe South ward, delayed after the death of sitting Lib Dem Councillor Betty Howell just before last month’s poll, was held yesterday. Boundary changes meant that the number of seats up for grabs was down from three to two, and the only parties contesting the election were the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems.
In the 2008 election, held at a time of deep unpopularity for the then Labour Government, two of the three seats were taken by the Lib Dems, with Labour taking the third. But it was all change last night, as the Lib Dems went from first to a distant third and Labour took both the seats on offer.
Vote percentages were revealing: in 2008, the winning Lib Dem and Labour candidates secured 16.4%, 14.3% and 13.1% of the vote. Last night, the two winning Labour candidates secured 30.7% and 28.5%, with the Tories in second securing 16% and 15.5%.
But the Lib Dem candidates’ share of the vote collapsed to 4.7% and 4.6%. So in total, against 36.3% for its three candidates last time, Labour improved to 59.2%, while the Lib Dems went from 43.2% to just 9.3%. The Tories also gained at the Lib Dems’ expense: their three candidates gained 18.4% in 2008, but raised that to 31.5% this time.
Did the weather have an influence? Doubtful. Early rain and then occasional heavy showers cleared to give a sunny afternoon. The area is “compact”, and it’s generally only a short walk to the nearest polling station. So no excuse for any party on weather or distance. And there are no excuses for the Lib Dems: it’s a disaster for them.[The apparent discrepancy in the 2008 percentage is accounted for by an Independent candidate]