News from British and Canadian Conservatives

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Kent: A deeper shade of blue

Thursday's elections were another good day for Kent's Conservatives. Following 2005's landslide victory to retain control of the "Excellent" Kent County Council and last year's London election which saw Bexley switch from Labour to overwhelming Conservative control, alongside already blue Bromley, it didn't seem that things could get much better. They did.

Prior to last Thursday, the Conservatives were already the largest party in every council except for Labour-controlled Gravesham. There were Conservative majorities in Sevenoaks, Tonbridge & Malling, Tunbridge Wells, Ashford, Medway and Thanet. The Conservative majority went up in all those seats, with Labour wiped off the map in both Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge & Malling. In Swale, the Conservatives also held on to control, despite a strong challenge from a new local independent grouping. The Lib Dem group (which ran Swale until 2002, when the public punished them for poor financial controls which led to a 25% year-on-year increase in council tax) was reduced to a rump of 6.

The Conservatives also led minority administrations in Dover, Canterbury, Dartford and Shepway. All of those saw the Conservatives given large majorities. In Gravesham, the Conservatives took control from Labour for the first time since 1983.

The only slight piece of bad news was in Maidstone. Last year's triumphant gains were not replicated, with the minority Conservative administration suffering one nett loss after just one year in office. The Conservatives remain the largest group, and will have another opportunity to take control next year, as Maidstone electd by thirds. In the meantime, the deal of long-serving Maidstone North East Lib Dem Councillor Margaret Featherstone means that we can expect a hard fought by-election in the area very soon, and I expect to be there to help out as usual.

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