The Conservatives were one of just two parties to put up a full slate of candidates in each ward.
I wasn’t expecting them to do great – the opinion polls at the time were clear enough that it wasn’t going to be a great election for them. But I don’t imagine even in their worst nightmares the Conservatives would have been prepared for what actually happened. Their performance varied from ‘only dropping by 29%‘ to ‘worse than complete collapse‘. The home of the South Wales Shadows Club has been shaken to its foundations.
At a national level the Conservatives lost 61 of their 166 councillors, or 37%. And in Penarth? In April they had eight councillors and as from May they have two. How careless – they’ve lost 75% of their Penarth/Sully contingent, well above their Welsh average!
But let’s examine Conservative performance at ward level:
- Cornerswell – 53% down
- Plymouth – 29% down
- St. Augustine’s – 29% down
- Stanwell – 33% down
- Sully – 56% down
There are clearly two groups of performance here. The average drop in support across much of Penarth was 30%. But over in Cornerswell and Sully it was closer to 55%. In electoral terms, that’s about as bad as it gets. So what happened?
The paucity of electoral information coming my way in April 2012 left me shell-shocked at the result in Sully. I’ve previously noted that the Conservatives there
apparently have done something to disgruntle the electorate
Their previous supporters abandoned them in droves
Bob [Independent] and Kevin [UKIP] were clearly doing a lot of things right for the people of Sully, Lavernock and Cosmeston
Perhaps there’s not really much to add to that analysis.
But there are a few additional factors to consider in Cornerswell. Firstly, the Plaid vote in Cornerswell was relatively resilient (dropping just 20%) in the face of a Wales-wide pasting (otherwise known as ‘a difficult night‘). While it’s unlikely that Conservative voters would have swelled the ballot box on behalf of Plaid in large numbers, it’s not outlandish to think that some Conservatives would have made the long leap left. Labour’s vote only increased by 15% – rather poor by comparison with results elsewhere, and also not likely to have been as a result of much inter-party mobilisation. I don’t want to infer too much into the significance of this blog, but could the hint of a constituency scandal – the incumbent Conservatives having been complicit in the Vale of Glamorgan choking residents of Cogan – have made erstwhile Conservative voters simply unable to bring themselves to vote for the negligent pair of Dorothy Turner and John Fraser?
If there’s even the slightest hint of truth in that, then this May has served notice that negligent or incompetent councillors can expect to pay a heavy price come election time.