Well, a quick look at the voting figures for Blackheath ward tells us that Andrew came very close: only 40 votes separated him and the lowest-placed LibDem. Also, interestingly, Andrew got the best result amongst all the Labour candidates, beating out even the
deputy mayor. Now, I’d like to suggest that Andrew’s attitude to communicating with his electorate, including his blogging, contributed to that (relatively) strong placement. Sure, “best of the losers” isn’t the best place to be in, but Labour suffered serious set backs all over the UK that night, and Blackheath lacks the same hardcore of “tribal Labour” voters (as political commentators term them) that sustained the party in other parts of the borough. Yet, he only lost his seat by 40 votes.
The fall of the Ladywell Labour candidates can be pretty much directly attributed to the Ladywell Pool campaign. The reason behind the similar wipe-out in Blackheath is harder to pin-point, but I suspect they were punished at a local level from the crimes of the party at a national level. That’s pretty ironic, really, given that Andrew had done more to connect with his community on a local level than pretty much any other politician I’ve ever met.
So, certainly not a failed experiment, but one that remains uproven, so far. The signs that he’s started something are there. One new Tory Lewisham councilor is blogging. There’s a Green and a Labour type at it too. Andrew Milton is still
at it (although he engages less in the wider conversation than Andrew Brown). And there are many, many councilors across the country doing the same. The trail blazed by Andrew is clearly being followed by others, and still has the potential to change the way local politics is conducted and, by extension, the political landscape of the country. If I’d have been able to vote for Mr Brown, I would have done so without hesitation – and I’m extremely reluctant to vote for any member of the Labour party right now.
Why? Because he proved to me that he was a good politician at the local level, who genuinely cared about his voters. And that’s rare in this day and age.
Andrew himself is back blogging at Someday I Will Treat You Good. It’s well worth checking out. It’s interesting to see how his ‘voice’ has changed now he’s representing himself (and I detect a harder, more cutting edge to it, which I rather enjoy) and see which topics he chooses to write about. It’s good stuff, it’s political and it engages with the local readership. The experiment, I suspect, isn’t over yet.