The nominations closed today for the council elections which means two important things:
- It will all be over in four weeks, one way or another
- We all know who we are standing against
The full lists are not yet on the crawley council website as I write, but I’m sure they will be soon. Before I got a bit disillusioned with the politics of politics I used to like poring over these lists and speculating over what the implications were. Since then I have realised that even the considered predictions of the most experienced soi disant experts are little better than random guesses so I try to stay out of that game myself, but old habits die hard.
Thanks to a resignation and the resulting byelection there are 13 seats up for election next month. Labour and the Tories are both fielding 13 candidates, UKIP have 11 candidates and the Lib Dems have 5. There are 2 fringe party candidates and a couple of independent candidates.
The main points I noticed were:
The number of UKIP candidates. They are standing in every ward except Northgate, but only have one candidate in the two-seat election in Pound Hill South. That is quite impressive for a party that has no visible policies at the local level. For a start it means they managed to find 110 people willing to sign nomination papers in the town. As their most prominent local member, the ex-Tory Lee Gilroy, is standing in Southgate do we assume that they think that is where they have their best chance? They already have a councillor there, but only through a defection, and he is hardly a good advertisement for the party, having failed to turn up for most town hall meetings.
As usual only two parties managed to put up a candidate for every seat, although in the case of the Tories they couldn’t find enough people from Crawley and have two candidates who live outside the town – in Charlwood, Surrey and in Mannings Heath, Horsham.
Should we be surprised that the Lib Dems only have 5 candidates or surprised that they found so many. I do wonder how they chose which seats to contest because they have no candidate in Northgate, the ward where they held both seats for ages and the only one where they ever won an election, as far as I know.
Because of that, it turns out that Northgate is the only ward where it is a straight two-horse race.
As things stand, Labour need to hold on to their current seats and win three more to get control of the council. It will be interesting to see if that will happen because the inclusion of so many UKIP candidates could make it all a bit random. I don’t expect them to win any seats, and hope they don’t, but it remains to be seen whether they will take enough Tory votes to make the difference anywhere.
I think the wards to keep an eye on will be Southgate and Broadfield South, which are both seats Labour needs to win.
In Broadfield South the current Tory councillor is standing down so there is no incumbency factor there. The only other party in the contest is UKIP. Our candidate is particularly impressive so it is looking good there.
In Southgate there is the presence of UKIP’s leader, as I mentioned, but more interesting is the absence of a Green candidate. In the past we have felt that the Greens were taking just enough votes to stop us getting back in so will their absence help us reach the tipping point? It is made more complicated by the presence of an independent candidate from Malthouse Road, which has had a lot of problems recently, who is also the chair of the local residents’ forum. I’ve got a lot of confidence in our candidate, Raj Sharma, who has put a lot of work in there over the last few years, but it could be another classic Crawley election – i.e. very close. One good sign is that the sitting Tory in Southgate has decided to stand in Pound Hill instead of going for re-electin in Southgate, which speaks volumes about their lack of confidence in Southgate.
What is good to see is that there are no BNP candidates at all in the town. Of course you could assume that UKIP are now doing their job for them, and locally their membership and that of the BNP have overlapped a bit in the past. None of their candidtes is a known ex-BNP person, but there might be some familiar names amongst the nomination signatures. What they do have is a few well-known ex-Tories with grudges, including Simon Darroch and Lee Gilroy, so whatever else happens there is a fair chance of it getting very messy between them.
And what of my own prospects? Well my opponents are a sitting Tory councillor who’s only real contribution to public life was pushing to get prayers on the council meeting agendas, a Lib Dem about whom I know nothing, and a UKIPper about whom I also know nothing. Furnace Green has been considered safe Tory for some years but it used to be Labour back when it also included the current Maidenbower voters. With an apparently poor sitting concillor and UKIP thrown into the mix you never know…