This chart shows the 2010 local election results for The Lane, the ward I ran for. After a year of really hard work I doubled the top Green vote to 1,265, but as you can see an incredible surge in votes for Labour stole the show.
To get an idea of how much of a difference having the national and local elections on the same day had in London, look at the black lines. I’ve drawn those into to show, roughly, where the votes were in the 2006 local elections. The increased turnout was massive, and it almost all went to Labour/Lib Dem/Conservative candidates. Across Southwark their vote increased between 50-300% whilst the Green vote was up much, much less; we just got left behind.
In The Lane, the Lib Dems didn’t even campaign. Their candidates didn’t attend the hustings, they only really put out general election leaflets in the area, they didn’t door knock, they’re not particularly active in local groups and their 8 year rule of Southwark Council didn’t do much for the area (to say the least). Yet their vote more than tripled to surge past us. We have been active in the area since 2006, campaigned hard on the doorstep and involved ourselves in lots of local campaigns and community groups, but even doubling our vote wasn’t enough to stop paper candidates overtaking us. That sucks.
It raises the old question: should general and local elections be on the same day? With the Brown/Cameron/Clegg show on TV and all the papers, two years of a Tory Mayor, eight years of a Lib Dem/Tory council for Labour activists to be angry at, and so many voters being unaware of the local situation, how could we ever compete?
For my part, it’s back to the local groups and streets to fight on. Next up: GLA elections in 2012!