Oxford has bucked national and county trends by more than doubling its Labour councillors in Thursday’s local elections.
Nine of the city’s sixteen wards are now controlled by Britain’s governing party, as opposed to just four before the elections. Oxford’s City Council, for which elections will be held next year, has long been dominated by Labour.
OULC president Jacob Turner said he felt that the result was a consequence of “a very great effort from the local party including Labour Club members. We’ve been going out, meeting people, and asking them not to vote for us, but just how our councillors can help them. We’ve built up a relationship with residents which is ultimately expressed in voting.”
In central areas of Oxford, Labour advanced at the expense of the Greens. West Central Oxford abandoned its Green councillor to elect Labourite Susanna Pressel, while East Oxford ended its unusual status as an all-Green ward by electing Labour’s Saj Malik.
The Conservatives once again failed to win any council representation in Oxford, receiving less than 10% of the vote in many areas.
The results stand in stark contrast to the pattern on the national level. Across all the wards up for election in this round of voting, Labour lost the majority of its sitting councillors and all three of its councils.
This was reflected more obviously in rural areas of Oxfordshire, where the party received an overall vote share of just 15%, leaving it with no wards left in the county outside Oxford itself. However, its success in the capital means that it has made an overall net gain of one seat on the county council.
Turner said he accepted that national issues were having a negative effect on Labour’s performance in council elections. However, he added that he felt Oxford provided a good example of the party at its best.
“Regardless of the state of the cabinet, or how politicians are being portrayed in the media, our basic principles are correct – we’re the party that cares about the people and what the state can do for the people. As long as we keep this in mind we can keep being very strong in Oxford.”
The Conservative Party benefited most from the swing in rural support towards Labour, and now dominates the county council with 52 of its 74 seats. A weak showing in both rural and urban areas by the Liberal Democrats saw them lose five seats, although they remain the largest opposition group.