The local election campaign in Southampton has officially started today. Candidate nominations for the city council elections on 1st of May have been published. Click HERE for a link to the full list.
This election is a crucial one (more so than most years) as firstly, it will be the last local election held in Southampton before the next General Election and secondly there are no council elections until May 2010. This means whichever party (or combination of parties) wins in May will be the administration for 2 years.
The choice is very simple: a coalition of Labour and the Lib Dems or the Conservatives. Locally people have seen all three political parties in office. We have had 20 years of Labour, 4 years of the Lib Dems, and 10 months of Conservatives. The Conservative Administration's term was cut short by the new Lab-Lib Pact.
In 10 months the Conservatives showed real conviction and leadership, as well as an ability to compromise but not at the expense of principle or commitments made to the electorate. In 10 months the city really started to move forward at a pace.
Now we have the Lab-Lib pact which in just 6 weeks is starting to fall apart. It is a coalition build on sand by two parties which can't stand each other and share only one thing in common - the need to be in power at all costs. You only have to look at their local party websites to see what they think of each other. They aren't communicating, have no shared policy platform (or indeed any policies that I can spot) and are lumbering from one disaster to another.
The nominations show a few interesting points, namely:
Milbrook. Despite announcing his resignation, former Lib Dem councillor Ken Darke has after all, decided to stand. His comments in the Daily Echo can be read HERE.
Sholing. UKIP have decided not to put up a candidate this year despite doing so for many many years. This will no doubt help the Conservatives and will put Labour Leader, Cllr June Bridle under even more pressure.
Bitterne. Former Labour Councillor, Paul Jenks is hoping to get back on the Council. Paul Jenks has stood and lost all over Southampton and although he may be hoping Bitterne will be his ticket back onto the Council. I am not so sure.
Peartree. Ex Lib Dem, Nora Goss is standing in her former ward Peatree. Nora is a popular character and no doubt will poll very well.
Smaller Parties. There are 8 Green candidates this year. The Greens are starting to become quite a force and in Southampton and we may see in future years them push the Lib Dems into 4th place in the city. This is close to being the case in many wards. It is good to see that there are no BNP candidates this year as there have been in recent years. Finally we have a new party called Southampton First standing in a couple of wards.