BBC BLOGS - Patrick Burns's blog
« Previous | Main | Next »

Council elections: 'other parties fighting to be heard'

Patrick Burns | 22:47 UK time, Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Ballot paper

"It's the biggest test of public opinion since the General Election."

I keep hearing myself reciting this mantra in innumerable pre-election interviews and 'pieces to camera'; to such an extent that I am beginning to sound like an old-fashioned record with a crack in it.

There's an underlying assumption behind it that the local elections on Thursday 5 May are principally an opportunity to crunch the numbers and assess their significance for the three main parties, still adjusting to life either as a Coalition Government or as the official Opposition to it.

So this is where I kick myself with a reminder that these elections in 31 local councils right across our part of the country will have a very direct impact on the running of local services for millions of us Midlanders.

And it's not just about the two biggest parties either. UKIP, the Greens and the British National Party are fielding over 350 candidates here. All these three parties have demonstrated a highly-developed ability to win seats in a range of elections in recent years.

They have often been the repositories of protest votes of course, though they naturally emphasise their credentials as campaigners with clear, distinctive policies.

Fighting more seats than any of the other 'other' parties, the Greens tell me they are targeting the Black Country, Stafford, Solihull, Warwick and Herefordshire for special attention with more than 200 candidates. I asked Will Duckworth what exactly his party will be standing for on Thursday 5 May:

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.


UKIP will do well to emulate the level of support they achieved in the last Euro-elections two years ago when they won two of the Midlands six seats in the European Parliament. One of them, Mike Nattrass MEP, gave me this account of his party's policies for this year's council elections:

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.


The BNP held nine seats on Stoke-on-Trent City Council for three years from 2006. More recently they've been rocked by party splits and angry recriminations. Having lost their footholds in the Black Country, Redditch, Birmingham and Coventry, they may now be struggling to survive as a significant presence in local government. I met up with Michael Coleman, the group leader in Stoke-on-Trent:

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.


For all the manifest differences between them, the challenge facing all the parties outside the 'Big Three' is substantially the same: to make themselves heard above the sound and fury of the debate raging between Labour and the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats over the economy in general and council budget cuts in particular.

Much may depend on whether or not Labour will supplant them to become the principal party of protest.

Do join us for this week's Politics Show, 2pm on BBC One, you can email us politicsshowwestmids@bbc.co.uk or follow us on Twitter.

Comments

Be the first to comment

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.