Will split opposition votes keep rural Suffolk Tory in 2013?

Today candidates for the May County Council elections have been published by each of the seven District and Borough councils in Suffolk.

This is important as one of the things that contributes to Tory hegenomy in rural Suffolk is that the anti-Tory (Labour, Lib Dem and Green) vote tends to get split resulting in the Tories winning by default.

In the more urban areas of Ipswich and Lowestoft we see much more of a two horse race between Labour and the Tories. The expectation here is Labour will do much better than they did four years ago. Which isn’t exactly going to be hard as they were left with a handful of seats.

It will be also interesting to see what happens to seats held by the Lib Dems. Clearly the national picture remains poor and in areas without sitting Lib Dem councillors I don’t expect they will do so well but popular local candidates may well buck the local trend and I hope that is the case.

But as for rural Suffolk it looks like seat after seat is being contested by Labour, Lib Dems and the Greens. They are facing either just the Tories or the Tories and UKIP.

This almost certainly means that in most of these divisions the Tories will win by default. I think this is a shame as it is likely to mean that the opposition voice if the Tories do retain power will be limited to a handful of Greens and Lib Dems outside the likely revitalised Labour areas of Lowestoft and Ipswich.

But there are some positives that look a likely result of these elections. Some fresh faces on all sides replacing some councillors that have become to put it politely long in the tooth. As well as the prospect of new cabinet members even if the Tories do as I expect they will retain power.

That said I remain to be convinced on that front as so far as I know only Jane Storey who is actually  one of the better cabinet members has actually said she will leave the cabinet. Certainly she isn’t one the people who if I could have my way would be removed from the Cabinet.

But if Mark Bee and his Suffolk Tories do win this year perhaps Mark will feel more free to shape his own cabinet. He certainly did a good job of steadying  the ship after the Pembroke/Hill debacle.
One other thing that looks clear is that at least there is likely to be a better opposition. Well at least a larger one!

But indifference is likely to win the day and most people will conclude it isn’t worth voting. I think they are wrong and whilst the Tories might well find themselves back in Endeavour House in power - albeit with a smaller majority - they ought to at least consider what the result of the election would be if we had the choice to vote for “anyone but the Tories”. Even here in Blue rural Suffolk I am not sure they would win that election.
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