Friday, 5th May, 2023

[Day 1145]

Yesterday was local elections day but, apart from photographing dogs who had been left outside polling stations whilst their owners were inside to vote, there was not too much to capture the attention of the press. Being somethng of an election junkie, I thought I would watch the early results until about 2.00am and then creep off to bed. In practice, it did not not quite work out that way. Suddenly at 2.30am the results started to look a lot more exciting. In particular, interesting things started to happen in Worcester City Council which is evidently the major town to the south of us. There was a persistent rumour that the Conservative leader of the City Council (which was ‘No overall control’) had lost his seat to a Green candidate and had left the count and gone home, abandoning his party colleagues and the rest of the count to lick his wounds in private. In 2022, the Conservatives were the largest single party and had 15 seats with Labour 12, Green 6 and Liberal Democrat 2. But now in 2023 the Conservatives lost 7 of their 15 seats, The Labour party gained 1, the Greens pushed on from 6 to 10 and the Liberal Democrats from 2 to 4. In some ways, this was very representative of the rest of the country as the electorate seemed to be saying ‘Anybody but the Conservatives’ and whilst they lost councillors and seats (and councils) across the country, the other political parties all increased the seats that they held. I suspect that what particularly rankled the ex-Conservative leader in Worcester was the fact that he was beaten by the Green candidate (and in Tory demonology, the Greens are regarded as to the left of the Labour Party) So intrigued by this almost local result, I did creep off to bed at about 3.45 in the morning.

Friday is the day when our domestic help arrives but she arrived arrived early and crept around very quietly so as not to wake us up. In practice, I got up at about 9.00 in the morning and then Meg and I breakfasted and decided, almost on the spur of the moment, to treat ourselves by going to Waitrose. We were glad that we did so because we bumped three of our regulars and our University of Birmingham friend also turned up so we had a jolly time but split over two tables on this occasion. Then Meg and I made for home closely followed by our friend because we had a discussion on the best way to clean patios and I was somewhat wary of a pressure washer in case it lifted the grouting and ruined the whole of it. So I promised that he could have one of my spare patio cleaning tools (wire bristles arranged in a kind of ‘V’ shape and designed to remove weeds from patios) We had a fish pie that we normally have on a Friday and then, after lunch, settled down to watch the election results trickling in through the afternoon. In the early part of the afternoon, we discovered that Bromsgrove, that has had a Tory local authority (and MP) ever since we moved here some fifteen and a half years ago, had moved from Conservative to ‘No overall control’ The Conservative number of seats dropped from 18 to 11, Labour went up 1 from 7 to 8, Independents moved from 5 to 7 and Liberal Democrats gained 5. The Conservatives had run this council for the last 24 years but with this kind of result, it is very unclear who will run the council from now on. The Conservatives only command 11 of the 31 seats and I suppose many of the Independents may ally with them, this is by no means certain. In my local ward, the Conservative councillor was elected with 240 votes but the Labour vote was 175 (not too far behind) and the Liberal Democrats at 90 – so I now live in an area with a anti-Conservative majority. One factor that may have played out locally is that masses of new housing on the edges of the town has been approved and is in the course of construction but planning permission has been forced through with massive opposition from local residents so perhaps this explains some of the anti-Conservative vote.

Tomorrow, of course, is Coronation Day and I expect that I will tune in for some of the music to be played in Westminster Abbey. There is always some traditional music such as ‘Zadoc the Priest’ which has been sung at every coronation since that of George II. But there also be some especially commissioned music and individual performances such as from the South African soprano so I shall look forward to that. The major event of the weekend is the party we have been asked to attend with friends on Sunday afternoon and that will be the highlight of our weekend. I bought some nice wine and a couple of bottles of ‘Newcastle Brown’ to take along and the weather forecast is showing that Sunday may have the best weather of the weekend. In any case, it will be wonderful to have a chat with the people attending the party – of some 15-16 we think we that we know practically all of them so a happy occasion is in prospect.