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Reflections on Local Election Results

  • Monday, June 02 2014 @ 08:40 PM BST
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Emily's News Reflections on Local Election Results Saturday 24 May 2014

There is clearly a feeling of anti-politics across the country. This was demonstrated in Sutton and Cheam by an 8.31% fall in the share in the vote for the three established political parties. The number of votes were substantially down on 2010, indicating the kind of disconnect that canít be ignored.

Liberal Democrats and Conservatives were hit by a fall in their share of the vote Ė 7.38% and 4.88% respectively. It demonstrates that hardworking families in Sutton and Cheam are losing patience with the local Lib-Dem Tory Alliance.

Meanwhile, Labourís share in the local vote rose by 3.95% from 2010. This is an encouraging shift towards Labourís agenda for change. Local people are responding to our increasing visibility around the Constituency.

Some local people supported UKIP because of their frustration with the status quo of the Lib-Dem Tory Alliance in Sutton and the Coalitionís performance nationally. Hence, UKIPís share of the vote rose by 7.59% in the constituency. Labour needs to expose UKIP policies more vigorously, whilst reinforcing our ambitious programme for Government. We need to recognise why people feel disillusioned, show how Labour policies will address their concerns and hold conversations across our community to help strengthen trust.

Many hardworking families in Sutton and Cheam are finding things tough. Thatís why I have set out my Cost of Living Contract with local people to:
Give renting families more security and stopping them being ripped off;
Ban exploitative zero hour contracts;
Guarantee GP access;
Raise the minimum wage.

Ed Miliband has consistently attacked UKIP on policies that would harm hardworking people Ė higher taxes, removing basic rights at work and damaging public services. We have also called them out for unacceptable comments.

Cameron and Clegg shrug off peopleís discontent, whereas Labour is showing you can make a difference to peopleís lives and by reconnecting with voters. Ed has been leading the argument for big changes in our economy: for example - changing our party on immigration so we address peopleís concerns rather than dismiss them.

UKIP have tapped into peopleís anger about a country and an economy that doesnít work for them. I share their anger and thatís why Iím leading the argument that we need to turn our community around to tackle that alienation. Our approach has been to show we can address those concerns, that UKIPís policies would make things worse for working people and to call them out when they cross the line with unacceptable comments and racial slurs.

The problem is that UKIP yearn for a yesterday, as they seek to erect a notional Iron Curtin to stop Eastern Europeans from travelling, as well as creating a cheque Book GP service. Labour believe Britain deserves better, offering forward looking policies that manage economic migration effectively, making work pay for local people by raising the National Minimum Wage and retaining a universal health service at the point of delivery.

The minor parties failed to feature seriously in this election. Sadly, the Keep Our ST Helier Hospital (KOSHH) Party havenít made an impact and simply bleared the boundaries with their non-political campaign. This is a critical local issue, so this kind of diversion wasnít terribly helpful. The truth is that Paul Scully (Conservative) supports privatising health and Paul Burstow (Liberal Democrat) backs centralised decisions for closing hospitals to strengthen competition. Labour alone will scrap the internal market, protect our NHS from profiteering and invest in hospitals like ST Helier.

Gaining control of Croydon, Merton and Hammersmith puts South West London at the heart of the success Labour has secured across the country. Nearby examples like these new Labour councils will surely help us hold up the mirror to Sutton and Cheam residents, demonstrating how a Labour Council can truly make a difference to the lives of hardworking families.

As a longstanding advocate of electoral reform, I find it rather ironic to be politically active in an area were the first past the post system favours Liberal Democrats. Out of the 27 Council seats within the Constituency, they now hold 21 and the Tories hold 6 places. If seats were allocated on a proportional basis, the make-up of the Council would look very different. The Lib Dem share would be down to 11 and Tories to 9 seats. Labour would gain 4 seats, 2 for UKIP and another for the other parties. Alternative systems would distribute in different ways, but would have the benefit of being more inclusive to a cross section of opinion in our borough.

Nonetheless, we have made good progress in this latest Local Election in Sutton and Cheam. Labour has been better organised, reaching more people door-to-door, by telephone and at our town centre stall - known as Emily Street. In Sutton Central I was able to take second place and increased our share of the vote by 6.84% to 20.61%, pushing the Tories into a lamentable third place. I will seek to hold the new Lib Dem Ward Councillors to account, ensuring they are first in the queue out of the door if they fail local residents.

Whilst our vote in Cheam was particularly disappointing, Laura Mullaney started her political career in Nonsuch with a very credible result. Kathy Allen put in a typically robust showing in Sutton North. Andy Cook made good inroads in Sutton West. We also did well in Stonecot. Our team of candidates can have pride in standing up for Labour values and contributing to our increase share of the vote in Sutton and Cheam.

After a period of short reflection and charging the batteries, we need to re-group to deliver a strong General Election campaign. I will lead our team by holding an active conversation with local people, showing how Labour provides the only progressive alternative to Coalition Partners and articulating our case for a better future. Voting Lib Dem to keep the Tories out doesnít work and UKIP trade on despair not hope. As Labourís Parliamentary Candidate for Sutton and Cheam, Iím providing the authentic voice of hard working people who want to be treated fairly and given the tools to aspire. The 2014 Local Election simply reinforces the need for that endeavour.

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