Wednesday 4 May 2011

Standing to be counted

Labour has nominated more candidates in the local elections, points out Luke Akehurst

Nominations for local council elections in most areas of England outside London closed in early April. The numbers show that Labour's national headquarters, regional offices and local constituency parties have done a magnificent job in increasing the number of candidates we are fielding.

Every year Victoria Street centrally monitors selection progress across the country, but this year the party prioritised candidate selection as a task, with three clear key aims. First, to maximise Labour's national share of the vote; second, to expand Labour's local government base in marginal areas across the country and in our target areas; and, finally, to expand Labour's local government base across the south of England (southeast, southwest and eastern regions) where we had performed badly in the general election.

Overall the pattern is of more Labour candidates standing - with our national total now up to 72.4 per cent from just 60.4 per cent in 2007. This increase in Labour candidates has occurred while the number of Liberal Democrat candidates has declined by four per cent nationally. In 2007 the Liberal Democrats fielded over three per cent more candidates than Labour, while in 2011 Labour fielded over 12 per cent more candidates than the Liberal Democrats.

The north region shows significant increases for all the main parties. Some of this is due to the move to unitary local government in large parts of the region. This has resulted in fewer seats to fill and therefore an easier task for the main parties.

Across the south the pattern shows an increase in the number of Labour candidates running, with the Liberal Democrats down everywhere and the Tories still strong. In the three southern regions Labour stood in just 49.3 per cent of seats last time whereas now it is standing in 65.7 per cent of seats - that's an increase of 16.4 per cent.

In particular, Labour in the east of England has seen an unprecedented increase in the number of candidates standing, up by nearly 19 per cent since 2007.

By contrast, the number of Liberal Democrat candidates has dropped the most in the southeast, the northwest (by nine per cent in both cases) and in Yorkshire (by seven per cent).

In short, it looks likely that many more people will have the chance to vote Labour in this set of local elections than in 2007.

Luke Akehurst is a member of the National Executive Committee