The recent election campaign was one I think I will remember for a long time.
With Crawley council having a Labour majority of just one seat it was always going to be a fight to keep control. Of the thirteen seats involved, eight were seats we were defending. Two of them were wards where there were council elections last year that we lost and another two or three were seats that have been Tory fairly recently, so everybody agreed that Labour holding on was about as likely as Leicester City winning the league.
The memorable part of the whole process was very much the count. The Tories were out in force. They had many people bussed in from neighboring constituencies (Why? Can’t they scrape together enough bodies from the local party?), the PCC candidate, their paid agent, and some bigwig from head office there. And all were suited up like they were going to an audition for Kingsman 2, all ready for the triumphant group victory photos at the end, and for the TV news of course.
It is not that they thought they were going to win. They knew they were going to win. The count was just a formality.
As the count progressed, it became clear that things were not going to plan. While they were looking to see whether they had managed to win in Ifield or Tilgate, it turned out that they had lost Southgate so they would have to win both to take control. In the end we managed to hold all of our seats and take one off them and instead of losing control we actually increased the majority, and took more votes across the town as well. Not only that, but one of their other wards has now started to look a bit vulnerable.
The visiting Tories who had come to town to join in with a celebration started to quietly slip away, leaving the locals to display a fine collection of unhappy faces. But the word unhappy does not really do justice as a description. I have checked with the party and officially we are not allowed to use the phrase ‘pissed on their chips’ but there really is no non-sweary phrase that sums up what we did quite so accurately.
With hindsight we really should not have been surprised. We had a good team and good team spirit. We had good leadership and our secret weapon, Andy Troke, who probably put in more hours and more effort on a voluntary basis than the Tories’ paid election agent did for his wages.
We also had the motivation of having a plan of what we want to acheive over the next two years,, whether it is the housing we want to see built, the regeneration of the town centre, the modernisation of the town hall, the refreshing of the adventure playgrounds, or the now-legendary petanque provision. I honestly don’t think the Tories had much in the way of plans beyond the election. I think they had spent more time working out who would take which jobs than what those people would do in those jobs. Our election material focussed on what we plan to do, while their strategy was to bang on about Jeremy Corbyn.
In keeping with the topical Shakespeare celebrations theme I think it is fair to say that all’s well that ends well