Comment: One way or another, the next MP may be down to Dorothy

Watford Observer: Dorothy Thornhill awaiting the results at last week's mayoral election. Dorothy Thornhill awaiting the results at last week's mayoral election.

Watford Labour emerged from last week’s election count in a triumphant mood.

It made three gains on the borough council, in Callowland and Leggatts, and came second in the mayoral race. This, the party said, was visible progress.

However the Liberal Democrats were also pleased with their work. Mayor Thornhill retained the mayoralty with a comfortable majority for the fourth time in a row and the party’s core vote held in Watford.

This resilience stands out considering the drubbing the Lib Dems suffered elsewhere in the country. It was also a similar case in Three Rivers where the Liberal Democrats remained comfortably in charge of the council following all-out elections and ward boundary changes.

As attention now moves to Watford’s tight parliamentary race, this Lib Dem durability could prove the most significant insight from last week’s elections.

Next year, Labour is hoping to recapture the parliamentary seat from Conservative MP Richard Harrington. To do this, they will need to regain a sizeable portion of the votes the Liberal Democrats took from them in 2005 and 2010.

This reflects the party’s national “35 per cent strategy”, where Ed Miliband is banking on there being enough defections from the Liberal Democrats nationally to bolster his vote to the relatively slender vote share needed for a Labour majority.

Tony Blair’s majority in 2005 was based on Labour winning 35 per cent of the vote. Likewise Mr Harrington is hoping the Lib Dem vote holds up enough to help him see off Labour next May.

That’s why the most important intervention in the parliamentary race could come in the next few weeks as Mayor Thornhill mulls over her future. She was pushed into saying before the mayoral vote that she was undecided about running for Parliament in 2015.

If she does run, she clearly still has a considerable ability to mobilise the Lib Dems’ sizeable base in the town. Her decision either way could be a crucial factor in deciding who is Watford’s MP next year.

Watford Observer:
Watford's political map after last week's elections.

Meanwhile, last Friday was a disappointing day for UKIP. Elsewhere in the country the insurgency party enjoyed unprecedented successes and topped the national vote in the European elections.

But again in Watford and Three Rivers the purple surge fizzled out as the results came in. The party came third in the mayoral race and just beat the Conservatives into missing out on the wooden spoon.

Their average vote share across the borough was around 15 per cent – pretty much the same as last year in the county council elections. UKIP also failed to top the European elections in the town, coming second behind Labour.

Yet most importantly it failed to make a breakthrough in the borough elections and take a seat. This was the real test of UKIP’s electoral mettle in the town and they came away empty handed.

It was the Greens in Watford who had the worst time of it.

The party lost two of its three seats on the council in Callowland. In the last two years it has lost three quarters of its holdings in the town, when you add in the Leggatts and Callowland county council seat it lost to Labour last year.

Labour was jubilant as it swept up both seats available in the ward on Friday. Yet a closer look at the election results shows their success appears to have been partly down to a sharp collapse in the Green vote share, which slumped by more than half.

The party has often won impressive majorities with more than 50 per cent of the vote in Callowland, turning the ward into a resilient Green bastion in the heart of Watford.

But on Friday, that bastion was stormed by Labour leaving the Greens a potentially fatally wounded force in Watford.

Comments (5)

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1:53pm Fri 30 May 14

Watfordengineer says...

In a strange way I think I prefer Dotty as the Mayor, I find her active in actually getting projects completed. Possibly because we have 1 person in charge with personality to push through improvements for the town. yes some schemes are not popular with all of the borough, but overall (especially following the election) there are more great schemes than controversial ones.
I think westminster is a different kettle of fish (just look how long big schemes take there) they wait untill they have a perfect scheme that pleases everyone and waste a lot of time and effort to do that. I think she wont be very effective in that environment.
In a strange way I think I prefer Dotty as the Mayor, I find her active in actually getting projects completed. Possibly because we have 1 person in charge with personality to push through improvements for the town. yes some schemes are not popular with all of the borough, but overall (especially following the election) there are more great schemes than controversial ones. I think westminster is a different kettle of fish (just look how long big schemes take there) they wait untill they have a perfect scheme that pleases everyone and waste a lot of time and effort to do that. I think she wont be very effective in that environment. Watfordengineer
  • Score: -3

5:07pm Fri 30 May 14

Mike Ribble says...

I wonder whether Mayor Thornhill might decide to run for parliament and stay on as Mayor until the election result is known. After all Mr Turmaine, the Labour candidate, hasn't given up his day time job to stand and no one thinks that's improper.
I wonder whether Mayor Thornhill might decide to run for parliament and stay on as Mayor until the election result is known. After all Mr Turmaine, the Labour candidate, hasn't given up his day time job to stand and no one thinks that's improper. Mike Ribble
  • Score: 0

6:26pm Fri 30 May 14

Cuetip says...

Given the abandonment of 11 out of 12 wards in the recent council elections, and their focus on only the affluent Park ward, Conservative Richard is banking on having lots of cash as the local party has only deadwood and is backed by outsiders. This will certainly help to get his name out there with promises to every ethnic group in Watford, signs, direct mail, paid advertisements and other means.

But it’s no guarantee of victory. Sometimes the most-affluent candidates finish near the bottom of the pack while those with established records and strong name recognition do well despite having modest treasuries.

Let’s hope that other factors play a bigger role such as concerns about the squeeze on working conditions, the relentless pursuit of super hospitals, the unemployment rates within the young, Harrington voting to bomb Syria, the rising housing costs for those on frozen incomes, the U turn on the much vaunted overseas aid, etc.
Given the abandonment of 11 out of 12 wards in the recent council elections, and their focus on only the affluent Park ward, Conservative Richard is banking on having lots of cash as the local party has only deadwood and is backed by outsiders. This will certainly help to get his name out there with promises to every ethnic group in Watford, signs, direct mail, paid advertisements and other means. But it’s no guarantee of victory. Sometimes the most-affluent candidates finish near the bottom of the pack while those with established records and strong name recognition do well despite having modest treasuries. Let’s hope that other factors play a bigger role such as concerns about the squeeze on working conditions, the relentless pursuit of super hospitals, the unemployment rates within the young, Harrington voting to bomb Syria, the rising housing costs for those on frozen incomes, the U turn on the much vaunted overseas aid, etc. Cuetip
  • Score: 2

8:22pm Fri 30 May 14

TRT says...

Actually, I think it's the lib dems that took the green vote in Callowland. Not that a potential green voter would or did vote Lib Dem instead of Green, just that the controversy over the loss of green belt, the allotments and the stealth campus, pointless make-overs etc. may (as it did this Green voter) make someone consider an opposition vote that's more likely to succeed in toppling the Lib Dem council. Because a dyed in the wool Labour voter isn't going to suddenly turn Green are they?!
Actually, I think it's the lib dems that took the green vote in Callowland. Not that a potential green voter would or did vote Lib Dem instead of Green, just that the controversy over the loss of green belt, the allotments and the stealth campus, pointless make-overs etc. may (as it did this Green voter) make someone consider an opposition vote that's more likely to succeed in toppling the Lib Dem council. Because a dyed in the wool Labour voter isn't going to suddenly turn Green are they?! TRT
  • Score: -3

10:35am Mon 2 Jun 14

garston tony says...

Mike Ribble wrote:
I wonder whether Mayor Thornhill might decide to run for parliament and stay on as Mayor until the election result is known. After all Mr Turmaine, the Labour candidate, hasn't given up his day time job to stand and no one thinks that's improper.
Is Mr Turmaine a publicly elected and paid for official?

Dotty is and it was wrong of her to stand for Mayor again if she intends to quit that post a year later.

If she does stay in the post of Mayor whils campaigning to be MP a) any campaigning to be voted MP should be done in her own time not the councils and b) if she isnt voted MP how can she have any credibility staying in the post of Mayor with everyone fully aware she isnt fully committed to it having tried so publicly to go for a 'better' Job?

I really dont get why the electorate voted her back in knowing the above could be a very real possibility
[quote][p][bold]Mike Ribble[/bold] wrote: I wonder whether Mayor Thornhill might decide to run for parliament and stay on as Mayor until the election result is known. After all Mr Turmaine, the Labour candidate, hasn't given up his day time job to stand and no one thinks that's improper.[/p][/quote]Is Mr Turmaine a publicly elected and paid for official? Dotty is and it was wrong of her to stand for Mayor again if she intends to quit that post a year later. If she does stay in the post of Mayor whils campaigning to be MP a) any campaigning to be voted MP should be done in her own time not the councils and b) if she isnt voted MP how can she have any credibility staying in the post of Mayor with everyone fully aware she isnt fully committed to it having tried so publicly to go for a 'better' Job? I really dont get why the electorate voted her back in knowing the above could be a very real possibility garston tony
  • Score: 4

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