2017 KCC election results analysis
Now that the KCC election results let us take a look at those results and the patchy coverage given by the KM Group.
The headline news is that Conservatives now control Kent County Council (KCC) with the Liberal Democrats the closest thing they have to an opposition.
Results by party
There were 81 seats available and 67 of those went to the Conservatives. In 2013 the Tories took 45 seats. That's a gain of 22 seats.
Conservatives now have 82.7% of the seats with 50% (half) of the votes. In simple numbers, they have four-fifths of the council but only half the votes. An argument, if ever there was one, for proportional representation (PR). I doubt the Conservatives would support PR as that would have only given them 40 to 41 seats.
Conservative gains came at the expense of UKIP (who wiped out entirely) and Labour.
KM's KentOnline stated:
The Liberal Democrats had mixed results and there was no evidence to suggest that it is seeing a resurgence in support. Which leaves me wondering what number KM were looking at. Not the results, certainly.
The Lib Dems took 7 seat in 2013 with 9% of the vote. This year the Lib Dems took 7 seats (not 6 as has been incorrectly reported by the KM group) with 14% to 15% of the results, depending on how you read KCCs fragmented table. (An administrative error saw one of the Liberal Democrat winners listed as "Liberal Democrat Focus Team").
If the overall votes resulted in a proportionate number of seats Lib Dems would be sitting on 11 to 12 seats.
Taking, for example, the Election results for Maidstone Central Liberal Democrats increased their vote by 2%.
The overall swing in favour of the Lib Dems was five percentage points. That's a relative increase of 55.5%.
Given how heavily right leaning Kent is, as a whole, this is a considerable gain for the centralist party. Not enough, perhaps, to be an immediate threat to a Tory-dominated area but a threat nevertheless.
I would not be surprised to see Liberal Democrats taking some seats on TDC when the time comes.
Labour took a thrashing in this election. Dropping from 13 seats and 23% of the overall vote to 5 seats and 19% of the overall vote. A drop of four percentage points. As a proportionate value of the overall votes, Labour would have deserved closer to 15 seats.
This will no doubt be of huge encouragement to Kent's Conservative candidates with a national election just around the corner. Labour, on the other hand, must surely be hoping that this is simply a voter protest that will not translate to national votes next month.
Labour did see some gains, especially in Thanet where they increased their share of KCC seats suggesting that Thanet's Labour group still present a viable threat to Tory domination. If this trend continues we might expect to see them make a credible challenge for TDC when that election comes around.
For those worried about the damage the Tories could do in government, this lack of challenge from Labour may be cause for concern.
The Greens still have one seat on KCC and increased their overall vote share from 4% to 5%.
If that 5% of the votes resulted in 5% of the seats Greens would have 4 seats but they will have to be content with just the one.
It remains to be seen if they can convert this gain into TDC seats. With the live export issue in Ramsgate an ongoing concern, this is a possibility.
UKIP's presence in KCC was wiped out entirely. UKIP lost all 17 seats. Overall, it looks like UKIP might have had their day.
TDC Leader Chris Wells (UKIP) only did marginally better than myself in the Cliftonville KCC election and I did not put out a single leaflet. North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale allegedly said that Wells' loss was a vote of no confidence in UKIP's leadership in TDC.
If the downward trend in UKIP votes continues, I would not be surprised to see UKIP suffer losses in all or almost all of their TDC seats at the next local election.
Swanscombe & Greenhithe Residents' Association had a seat in 2013 and still do. Whatever they have been doing for their locality, they are clearly doing it right.
I've already covered the disproportionate result in seats with 50% of voters opposing the conservatives. Opposition parties are likely to take this as a sign that they must campaign harder than ever to translate that opposition to Tory rule into general election victories for themselves. Locally, the seat to watch will be Thanet South (Thanet North being a Tory safe seat).
The Liberal Democrats have shown that in Thanet they are back and ready to fight but they still have some way to go. That said, with Labour lagging so far behind, the Lib Dems may be the credible voice of opposition in the future.
If the remainers (the 48%) want to have any say on Brexit they are going to have to unify behind one party to see off Tory domination. How that plays out remains to be seen.
Overall, I imagine that this KCC result is not a good indicator of the final result from the national election coming up. That said, it has indicated a general trend which will please leave voters no end.
With such a large majority in KCC, holding the Tories to account for roads, schools, and other Kent-wide issues may be harder than ever. The net result is no real change in KCC for the next term.
While half the electorate voted "no thanks" to Conservative rule (more if you count those who did not vote), any claim that this was a democratic result rings hollow at best.
Still, we have a national election to distract ourselves with. Even though half of Thanet know that their vote counts for nothing. Hardly the "will of the people" for those of us in a "safe seat".
What's your take on the KCC results?
Update: I incorrectly stated taht the Conservatives took 45 instead of 67 seat this year (that was the 2013 result). Sorry.