A sensational surge in the Labour vote in the Bridgwater and West Somerset area saw local councillor Wes Hinckes achieve a tally of 16,663 , a brilliant 29% of the vote, yet at the same time Tory incumbant Ian Lidell-Grainger increased his own vote and clung on to his feudal seat.
The Labour vote is the best in the constituency since 1979 and over recent years has been a distant 2nd or 3rd in a battle for the disingenous LibDems ‘Labour Can’t win here’ to the single-policy ‘Brexit or Bust’ Ukip.
Labour results 1979-2017
2015 Mick Lerry 9,589 (18%)
2010 Kathy Pearce 9,332 (17%)
2005 Matthew Burchell 12,771 (26%)
2001 Bill Monteith 12,803 (27%)
1997 Roger Lavers 13,519 (25%)
1992 Peter James 12,365 (22%)
1987 John Turner 9,594 (18%)
1983 Andrew May 8,524 (18%)
1979 John Beasant 16,809 (29%)
Labour Town Council Leader explains the result
Labour Leader of Bridgwater Town Council Brian Smedley said at the Count “Bridgwater people will be surprised that Ian Liddell-Grainger has not just got in again but has increased his vote. During the day polling stations all over the town were busy and visibly pro-Labour with a big turnout and happy smiling faces openly saying ‘you got my vote’ or ‘Labour this time’. But in fact much of the Conservative support in this constituency comes from the rock solid dyed in the wool Tory backwoods , some over 40 miles away in the far west. Ballot boxes from places like Exford, for instance, when counted, were simply 100% Tory. However, irrespective of that it’s a great result for Labour. We run Bridgwater Town council by an overwhelming Labour majority and we’re the main opposition on Sedgemoor District Council. Even better two parties that have confounded the issue over the years have been crushed. UKIP have disappeared almost totally -and remember in 2015 they were in second place and dropped 8,000 votes – many of which went to the Tories. Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats, who not only have been responsible for splitting the anti Tory vote over the years with their totally spurious claim every election that ‘it’s a 2 horse race’ or ‘Labour can’t win here’, were consigned to the dustheap of Bridgwater history with their worse result since 1970. This time round they tried to claim they were the ‘tactical’ vote to get rid of the tories but the people of Bridgwater didn’t listen to them -particularly after they’d physically put the Tories back into power with their 2010 coalition. This election the final nail in the Lib Dem coffin was the defeat in Sheffield of coalition architect Nick Clegg. Labour are back in the game and it’s a tremendous result from which to build for the future and shore of and expand our local government base”
The Corbyn factor
Cllr Smedley added “The Tory strategy was clearly not to let people actually meet their candidate, and just rely on his blue rosette, meanwhile our man Wes Hinckes got out there and talked to anyone and everyone, which also paid off. However, another key factor is that the the Bridgwater and West Somerset Labour Party has been revitalised by 100’s of new members since the election of Jeremy Corbyn and activists were out there from day one campaigning energetically and this bore fruit with 1,000s of new voters, especially young ones, and so this is terrific news for the future. The media ran a dreadful campaign against Corbyn and clearly that had some affect with some voters but the thing that came out most clearly from the campaign is how much people ignored that and recognised that the Socialist Labour manifesto was exactly what they’d been waiting for.”