Horsetrading and Group Meetings
Tomorrow, after the Bank Holiday weekend, the Council and its new Councillors start this term of office. All those who did not get re-elected, or did not stand officially stop being members of Cornwall Council. The authority will change, not only because there are 53 new Councillors, but the administration is very likely to be different from what people have been used to these last four years.
The question on many people’s lips will be who will form the administration as no one group has the overall majority to form an administration including electing a Leader of the Cabinet. And before people think it will be all sorted tomorrow it is best to put you out of your misery by saying the new administration will not be sorted tomorrow. In fact, it might not be sorted this week owning to the fact a lot has to be discussed before the new administration knows which way it is heading. The election results tell you it is not business as usual.
So what are the options? I think there are two options available. The first one is one of/the largest groups tries to form a minority administration. Though to be fair I would be very surprised if one group tried to form a minority administration, due to the complications of tying to get your preferred Leader of the Cabinet elected, and without a Leader you cannot form an administration. The other and more likely scenario is there will be another coalition. If it is a coalition who would be part of it? it could be two, three or four groups!
Lets look at how the groups fared since the last election in 2009:
- Conservative Group: went to the largest group, to the third largest. As the 2009 election gave them 50 Councillors. Now they have 31. A massive drop.
- Lib Dem: Now is the largest group on the council by one, having 36 Councillors (That’s of the majority of Independents form a group). This is two down from 38 in 2009
- Independents: technically could have 35 (32 in 2009). but that’s only if they all belong to one group.
- Labour: Have eight, and have seen the largest gain of eight from the 2009 results (they did win a by-election in 2011)
- Mebyon Kernow: Four officially, a slight improvement of one from 2009
- UKIP: A result of six puts them as the 5th largest group at the Council. They are the real unknown as no one has had any experience of working with this party before.
A lot will depend on how certain groups act, as in 2009 the Lib Dems put themselves straight into opposition. I very much doubt they will do this again. Meaning they are more than likely to be part of the new administration just on numbers alone. The next question if this happens is who with? Conservatives? Yes, they are both in a coalition Government, but this is local politics and I really cannot see this happening. If it did, I would expect to see mass defections from both groups. They might get along in Westminster, but this is not Westminster and things are very different at the local level.
How about Lib Dems, Labour and MK joining together and forming an administration? Again I doubt this it will happen, as I cannot see Labour and the Lib Dems working together in a formal way with a General Election only two years away. More to the point, it will not give them the numbers guaranteed of getting a Leader elected.
That leaves the possibility of a LD/Indi or a Indi/Con coalition. This will also be an interesting marriage as the Independents are a mixed bag. Some, like myself have never been in a political group, others have been members of political parties, and have been elected as such.
I should say there is one other option, with that being a rainbow administration with the Cabinet being made up of all parties and groups. Though can you really see this happening? I cannot. That is why I have left it to the very end. Though it is politics and history will tell you anything can happen!
One thing is for sure, it will be an interesting few weeks of offer and counter offers until an administration is formed. Only once this is done, the new Council can find its feet, and get on with its job of serving the people by delivering services. And do not forget the council will be run on a new structure than no one has ever worked under!