iFAQ: The leaders respond to #MedwayElects19

Following the local elections in Medway where ultimately not very much changed on a very low turnout, we decided to ask the leaders of the two main parties what messages they would be taking away from these results.

As usual, we told both of them that we would publish their responses unedited. You can find them below in the order they were received.

What are your thoughts about the results for your party in the local elections?

The Conservative results in Medway held up very strongly, largely bucking the local and indeed national trend. In direct contrast to the opposition parties. the Conservatives have consistently delivered for the people of Medway. We fought the election on a positive message with a carefully costed set of proposals, whilst the opposition produced a wish-list which could be neither afforded or delivered.
Cllr Alan Jarrett, Conservative, Leader of Medway Council

Clearly although it’s disappointing we didn’t get over the line for the overall majority, being part of the largest Labour Group in Medway for 20 years is positive progress. 
It’s fantastic to welcome a number of new Labour councillors who will bring fresh energy and ideas to the expanded team. 
The results on May 2nd now mean around 110,000 residents are directly represented by Labour Councillors across Medway.
Cllr Vince Maple, Labour, Leader of the Opposition

Given the turnout in these local elections and the low vote share of the two main parties, what message do you believe Medway voters have sent your party?

The clear message the Conservatives have received is twofold:
Nationally voters are impatient to see Brexit delivered, and this is a criticism aimed at all Parliamentarians.
Locally voters have demonstrated that they trust this Conservative administration to continue providing good quality services and value for money with lower than average council tax. This in contrast to a Labour Party in whom the voters clearly do not have sufficient trust or confidence.
Both main parties have internal differences of opinion, (reflecting pretty much the entire country) so the overall party positions lack clarity. This has not helped local elections at all. All we can do locally is to do our best to explain our local achievements and policies, and encourage people to judge local candidates based on local issues.
Cllr Alan Jarrett, Conservative, Leader of Medway Council

There can be no doubt that from a view of democracy that not voting was the most popular option on May 2nd with 69% of voters staying at home. 
That is of course disappointing, not least as one of the main reasons many people gave for staying at home was their frustration at Theresa May and her failed Brexit negotiations rather than any local issue.  
In my view that means no party can truly say they represent all of Medway – the Conservative administration have been elected with 34% of the vote on a 31% turnout. 
In my mind that means they should quickly reconsider the approach they take to things like the selection process for the mayoralty if that role is truly to be representative of all Medway residents. 
Cllr Vince Maple, Labour, Leader of the Opposition

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