It was clearly a hugely disappointing night. We all remember that awful, heart-sinking feeling when the BBC exit poll was announced. “Surely it can’t be that bad?” sadly, it was worse.
The complete capitulation of the Liberal Democrats (just 8% of the vote across the UK) had aided the Conservatives in a big way, Labour was decimated in Scotland by a SNP tidal wave and despite gaining 1million votes across England we didn’t pick up enough marginal seats in the head-to-heads with the Conservatives, our net gains reduced by the embarrassment of even losing a few seats like Ed Ball’s seat in Yorkshire and Gower in Wales.
Yet amid all that doom and gloom locally there were plus points. The Liberal Democrats still came 2nd but their vote split dramatically many coming to us (we came 4th), some going to the Greens who performed strongly in 5th place, some even going to UKIP who came 3rd locally and have assumed a sense of ‘home of the protest vote’ which was once held by the Lib Dems.
Our 4th place finish was more promising than it might seem on the surface. We doubled our 2010 result and achieved 7.9% share of the vote – our highest here since 1979.
With that result, the reinvigorated organisational capacity locally and the hundreds of new members who have signed up we now have a strong foundation upon which to build in order to, at the very least, become the natural opposition party here in Newbury and West Berks in 2019 (local elections) and 2020 (General Election).