For those of us directly involved in the recent elections the week following the big day is always one of mixed emotions: highs for the winners, lows for the losers, tiredness and readjustment for everyone. Up and down the country we’ve seen many councils changing political control as well as, against the pollsters predictions the formation of an outright majority Conservative government.
When looking at what happened there is no single answer, for some the economy was key, the phrase “why rock the boat” was heard from residents on the doorstep many times by me personally and I’m sure the same is true across Britain, well most of it at any rate! People seemed to understand the economy was a total basket case in 2010 and amazing changes had taken place in the following five years under a Conservative led government. Over two million jobs weren’t created by accident.
There was a feeling amongst some people from all parties that Labour had chosen “the wrong brother” to offer a credible statesman to lead the country. The fiscal credibility of Labour had also been affected by the association of Ed Miliband and Ed Balls to the Gordon Brown government and their continued insistence that the previous Labour government had not spent more than was sensible.
The fear of a Labour “arrangement” with the SNP was also a factor for some potential Labour voters with a switch in their vote seeming preferable to the potential constitutional crisis that may have followed such an outcome.
The big question locally has to be what will this all mean for us all here in Lincolnshire?
I’m confident that it will mean a new era of cooperation and joint working between our new team of local MPs. Having met them I know there is a genuine will to work together much closer than ever before to fight for Lincolnshire. To “hunt as a pack” in Westminster when needed to add weight to discussions with ministers about why investment should come our way.
Many councils are struggling financially and there has to be a discussion about the future of local government. I personally hope that reform of the costly and unnecessary two tier system of districts and county is a priority. We could save around £25million just in Lincolnshire as well as drive out waste and inefficacy. Whether we get those changes or not I’m confident that council leaders will be looking for clarity from government regarding their future budgets.
Councils have made a significant contribution the sorting out the Britain’s finances but they are close to the edge of what is achievable without dramatic loss of services. We have seen during the campaign promises to ring fence and indeed invest in the NHS, education and other areas which just means less cash for our councils. Let’s be honest though, both main parties agreed with this approach so we would have faced this challenge regardless of the outcome of the general election.
I see a bright future for Lincolnshire over the next Parliament, driven by investment and understanding of the economy. There are challenges for councils to deliver quality services within the tight finances available, but a will from elected members to rise to the occasion.
We need a joined up approach from parish to parliament to get the best for everyone in Lincolnshire and we’ve never had a better chance of making that happen.