Thursday, 24 January 2013


Lib Dems -Munt, Groves & Co await the result
The hard fought Sedgemoor District Council By-Election for the Highbridge & Burnham Marine ward has ended with the Lib Dems clinging onto their seat after a massive effort including visits from top brass party leaders , their sitting MP Tessa Munt and party members from across the county on the day. 

The result was as follows

HELEN GROVES     (Liberal Democrat)  379 (30.4%)
BILL HANCOCK       (Conservative)          288 (23.10%) 
SALLY WILLIAMS    (Independent)           253 (20.35%)
RICKY HOLCOMBE (Labour)                    249 (20.03%)
PURPLE WATKINS  (Independent)             68 (5.47%)

The election was fought on a bright but chilly January day becoming increasingly colder as the evening wore on. The turnout was 22% and it got dark and cold quite early on. And icy.

Lib Dems drop 7%

Labour-Tremendous presence from across Somerset
The Lib Dems - extremely well organised - had even managed to book a room in the building  next door to the main Polling station, in fact within feet, where they set up computers, printers and operated their main committee room running off the same wifi as the Council election officers.

 A massive multi leaflet  campaign scaring voters into voting LibDem to 'stop the Tories getting in' -which is essentially the 'Ashdown factor in action' proved as hard a nut to crack as it had elsewhere in Somerset where this rot has set in.

Desperate to distance themselves from the poisonous Lib Dems nationally, the Groves campaign tried to position itself as 'local' and painfully 'non political'-despite the incredible hypocrisy inherent in that blandishment. In the end they polled 30% - a drop of some 7% from the result last time round of their resigned former leader Joe Leach, who wasn't very much in evidence at the Polling stations. But then he's gone into banking.

'Labour-Independent' anti Clegg vote combined could have swung it

Labour, who had the best physical presence on the day with members from all over the county dropping in to help, was nevertheless unable to crack this malaise. However, a key feature of the election was the presence of the 'independent' local (ex libdem) candidate-whose supporters had been fighting their former chums since the last District election in 2011. Both Labour and the Independent-anti-libdem polled 20% each, a devastating split-vote blow when added together that 40% worth of anti-Clegg votes could have kicked out the Lib Dems and created a sensation in Highbridge.

Labour candidate, former coal miner Ricky Holcombe (left) , praised his supporters saying "The best result ever is our solidarity and determination to win for Labour in 2013.  County Council election here we come!"

Hard core Tories -a solid rock of complacent smugness

The scariest result was the Tory vote. The Highbridge demographics have changed since it was a safe Labour seat back in the early 80's and since then a residual Tory core vote has managed to score relatively high without doing much work. With no presence at all on the day the Tories came in second with 23% of the vote, although down on the district election, still a  kick in the teeth that there's still a hard core of self centredly complacent voters happy to back Cameron and spit on the hardships of the working class.

Purple has a nice car

There was a 5th candidate. Purple Watkins (right & purple)  picked up 68 votes, 5% of the total, which is good for a composite colour. He had nice blond and purple hair and quite a cool pink car. not to mention the bondage style trousers and new romanticesque cowboy boots. One Lib Dem said "He shouldn't be allowed to stand if he don't take this seriously."   And he should know.....

Purple's (pink) car
Sedgemoor Labour Group secretary Cllr Brian Smedley said "It's a shame we couldn't take advantage of the Lib Dems divisions in Highbridge but at the end of the day that division worked in their favour. To win places like Highbridge the Labour vote has to regain confidence in itself and it's ability to win. Good organisation and Unity from the Labour camp all over the County is a positive sign for the future and this trial run puts us in a good position for the County elections in May."


  1. The fib-dems can't say they have a mandate when the vast majority of votes were cast against them.

  2. What's lacking is a real alternative from Labour. There's a huge void to be filled, let's have some inspiration for God's sake. The tories should be demolished on their record along with the turncoat LibDems who allowed them to implement their anti-social policies. Where are abour on hiked-up energy prices, lack of affordable housing, attacks on the disabled and elderly? They might be saying something, but it sure ain't enough.

  3. A 5.9% swing to the LDs is not really clinging on.

  4. its become increasing obvious that the Fib Dem councillor is prepared to say anything in order to gain popularity