On Thursday 2nd May 2019, it was polling day in local elections across many areas in England and Northern Ireland. Here in Southampton, there were a third of seats on the City Council up for election. In Southampton we also had three students stand for election, Simon Osler for Labour, Olivia Reed and Samuel Harris (i.e. the author of this piece) for the Liberal Democrats.
The general picture:
The vote in Southampton saw an increase in the number of Labour seats to see them retain control of the city council with 9 new councillors. This is despite a reduction in the number of votes for the Labour candidate in every Southampton ward. Despite winning 7 councillors, this reduction was also seen with the Conservatives in spite of their attempt to distance themselves from the national party by calling themselves the ‘Local Conservatives‘ on the ballot paper.
Following national trends, every ward that had a Green Party candidate both this year and last year saw an increase in the number of votes that were cast for them. The Liberal Democrats, who had a candidate in every ward, also saw an increase in the number of votes cast for them in all but one ward.
Wards with high University of Southampton student populations:
Bargate Ward, home to Mayflower Halls saw the Greens more than double their share of the vote, but Labour won the seat with a 6% decrease in the share of the vote. In Bassett Ward home to Glen Eyre Halls, and where student candidate Simon Osler stood, the Liberal Democrats missed out on getting their first city councillor losing out to the Conservatives by just 16 votes, having jumped from third to second. There was a similar story in Portswood where the gap between Labour and the Liberal Democrats narrowed from 18% of the vote to just 5%. Swaythling Ward, home to Wessex Lane Halls, was won by Labour despite their vote share decreasing for the second year in a row. It was also the only ward in Southampton that saw a reduction in the number of votes for the Liberal Democrats.
Simon Osler stood for Labour in Bassett Ward, coming in third place with 658 votes. The day after the election he said:
Being a candidate is a unique experience and means listening to a variety of different people. Many were happy with the performance with the council but unhappy with Westminster politicians and government handling of Brexit. This made local issues harder to get across. Despite these frustrations our team worked hard and retained control of the council.
Olivia Reed also stood for the Liberal Democrats. This was her second time standing for election in Bitterne Ward and she increased her share of the vote compared to last year winning 141 votes. Olivia commented after the votes were all counted:
It was a privilege being able to run in the 2019 elections, speak to voters and have so much support. I’m very proud of all my Lib Dem colleagues across the city and county for their success in the local elections. I’m continually impressed with the dedication and commitment shown to improvement of the local community.
As for myself, I stood for the Liberal Democrats in Millbrook Ward and came in fourth place with 237 votes but increased the Liberal Democrat share of the vote by 150%. Reflecting on the election purely as a Liberal Democrat candidate, I would like to say the following:
I joined the Liberal Democrats to campaign for environmental improvements and to see more local changes in my home town. By running for city council, I have been able to challenge Labour and Conservative councillors on their terrible record with pollution, recycling, and treatment of the homeless in Southampton. I would encourage all students who are passionate on an issue to get involved in politics to try and fix it.
|Ward||Winning Party||% of vote|
A full breakdown of the Southampton City Council election results can be found here.