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Swaythling Ward Results
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Diana Jane ODGERSConservative Party1215
Andrew Michael WILSONLabour Party504
Anne Mary Patricia WORKLiberal Democrats711
Christopher Francis BLUEMELGreen Party256
Rejected Ballot Papers8
Electorate9466
Turnout28.5%

This represents a loss for the Libdems and a gain for the Tories; the returns at the last election for this ward were otherwise quite similar (Lib 975, Con 681, Lab 457, Green 260). The city council is No Overall Control.

The Tory campaign was distinguished by being largely anonymous (a series of flyers for meetings of concerned residents) and focussed on a NIMBYish opposition to a transit site for travellers on the edge of the ward. I wouldn't go quite so far to say that it was a dirty campaign, but it veered close to ad hominem in places and played heavily on unreasonable fears, rather than presenting a positive manifesto.

The Libdems produced exactly the sort of reasonable campaign I'd expect from them, but they necessarily had to rebut the Tory scaremongering.

I didn't see any material from the Labour candidate, who was previously the SU president, and ran a campaign aimed solely at students (the ward contains three halls of residence). I'm quite disappointed at the local Labour party for allowing such a minority interest candidate to stand in their name; the sole presence I saw for him was on Facebook (login required, alas). His election poster here rather beggars belief. He failed to respond to any of my questions on broader ward issues, so I'm quite glad that he wasn't elected. He doesn't seem to have substantially increased the Labour share of the vote, in any case.

Finally, I neither saw, nor expected to see any campaign flyers from the Green candidate. In this at least I was not disappointed.

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I for one am interested in an exiting city. I'm tired of all these cities that are constantly entering. It's just enter this, enter that, all the damn time. Exit, Southampton, exit!

Yes, the lack of proofreading was quite obvious, not to mention poor punctuation, clumsy phrasing, random capitalisation and a disregard for anything not deemed a student issue.

I also liked the hypocrisy of highlighting the culture of blaming students while suggesting that the youth of Southampton have nothing better to do than to beat up students.

You Brits and your crazy first past the post electoral system.

Trust me, I'd rather have STV.

How many times has Labour talked about introducing it? Also how's that whole reforming the upper house going?

They talk about it only when not in power. More promisingly, STV is used in elections for both the Northern Ireland Assembly (Stourmont) and the Scottish Parliament; there's a small but fighting chance that Westminster might look to the devolved assemblies and reform itself likewise.

As for the reform of the upper house, some of it has already happened with the abolition of the hereditary peers, but we're still a long way off an elected second house. No government will commit to reforming the Lords if there's a chance that it will damage their ability to pass legislation through that house.

Also, that's a pretty poor turnout.

About normal for local elections; general elections are higher, but it's still a minority of the population that votes.

Again, this is an area where I think that Australia has the right attitude. Voting should be seen as a public responsibility (in addition to a right), and I'm in favour of compulsory voting provided that the voting mechanism itself is changed to allow either STV or a 'none of the above' option.

There are those who claim that withholding your vote is a democratic right, and is an indication of one's dissatisfaction with the electoral process or candidates, but I think that they're mostly a bunch of apathetic whingers.

I have no problem with people abstaining but they should have to actively abstain rather than not bother to vote.

My brother wants compulsary voting with none of the above as one of the options. If you get less votes than none of the above you lose your deposit and cannot run for public office for the term of the post you stood for. If none of the above wins, the election gets rerun with fresh candidates.

Seems not unreasonable.

However as only politicians get to change the electoral system it has no chance of being implemented.

> Turnout 28.5%

In which case every candidate should be ashamed.

(and yes, I know that's not an atypical turnout!).

It was lower than Southampton as a whole (29.6%, if I recall correctly), but Southampton's turnout is also nothing to be proud of.

While you say people who refuse to vote to make some point are apathetic winers (and I'd be tempted to agree), I don't think I could have brought myself to vote for anyone who was standing.

Luckily we didn't have local elections in my ward, because I don't know what I would have done. The lack of a "none of the above" option is a problem. I'm not convinced that spoiling the ballot paper says anything in particular.

Yes, both not voting and spoiling a ballot are ambiguous signals. Given the fiasco north of the border, a large number of spoiled ballots could easily result from the introduction of a new voting or a poorly-designed ballot.

However, spoiling the ballot says that you cared enough to go and cast a vote, even if only a null vote (by mistake or as a protest); not voting is indistinguishable from not caring.

Partly the low turnout in the ward will be due to the halls of residence automatically registering people (not always the right people but people never the less) and so registration might be higher than one would expect of that demographic.

As for Andy, yes he does need to learn to spell, but he's in a ward where Labour stand no chance and at least he tries to engage with students rather than just ranting about them in the Echo. If the students actually voted they could cause a good amount of change because of their concentration in just three wards.

Hi Alex,

I'm not complaining about his attempt to engage with the students, but rather about his complete failure to engage with any of the other residents in this ward. Even though there are a lot of students in Swaythling, they're still the minority. The part of the ward I live in is predominantly working class with a fair proportion of social housing - fairly rich potential for a Labour candidate - yet I saw *no* election material from Labour.

It's clear that the local Labour party consider this ward to be a lost hope. I'm a little disappointed that they chose to select a single-issue (and dare I say lame duck) candidate; it's just not the good way to encourage the electorate to vote for you.

I'm appalled that Wilson's Facebook election poster wasn't vetted or proofread by anyone from the local party. Yes, he's trying to engage with students rather than ranting in the Echo. As a recent former SU president, I'd expect him to be both student-friendly, and have a good understanding of the local issues that affect students. However, his Facebook election poster was incredibly student-centric, and quite dismissive of anyone else in the local community:


  • Better student accommodation when you leave halls? Yes, but why not phrase this as a campaign to improve the standard of rented accommodation in general?

  • Affordable housing for after you graduate? Why should graduates have any special treatment over that received by other prospective homeowners? There's a general issue of affordable homes, but this struck me as a pretty elitist take on the matter. Also, how many Southampton graduates actually stay in the city after they graduate?

  • End the blame culture [directed at students]. Yes, but you don't do this by pointing the finger at the local youths and claiming that they have nothing better to do than beat up students.



As I said above, I've also a bit disappointed that he chose not to respond to the questions I put to him via Facebook. clarehooper received a response soon after sending her mail, mine remained unanswered; given the state of his election materials, and the line he was taking on Facebook, I have to ask myself if that was because I identified myself as a non-student.

Ancient History,

(Anonymous)
How does this match up with the material that he ran with when he went for SUSU president?

It also demonstrates a horrifying simplistic viewpoint.

Affordable housing: Oh please no not another miracle cure.

Youth Activities: If he'd tried running a youth centre he'd know that it's at best a ghost town and at worst a warzone.

Poor Innocent Students: Not all students are lovely, deal with it, or better still, THEM.

Street Lighting: Maybe he's onto something, a lot of sh*t happens during the day... While the street lamps are turned off!.

Getting the youth involved in decisions: 24% Turnout? You can't even get the adults involved!

Re: Ancient History,

(not sure who you are, but...)

I don't know what his SUSU election campaign was like - I'm not a student, so I didn't see any of it. re: the rest of your points, I completely agree.

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