LAST week we in Cumbria went to vote for Councillors in the newly-created Cumberland and Westmorland & Furness unitary councils.

It is only after the dust has settled on a set of elections that you start to get a clearer picture of what they mean and what the implications are.

This is my (hopefully) objective summation of what these local elections mean!

Clearly local elections matter to the local areas and communities that they represent.

They also have an impact on the local politics of the various parties that stand for election.

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From my Party’s perspective, the Conservatives, there is no doubting that the elections were a disappointment. The Labour Party will be pleased with their result in Cumberland and the Liberal Democrats will be very happy in Westmorland & Furness.  

However, once the new authority is fully established and running it is important that I, as a Conservative MP, work with the new council in the best interests of the residents of Cumberland, and that party politics are put aside when trying to achieve the most for area.

I am confident this can be the case.

Of course, beyond local results there is often much speculation about what local results mean for national politics.

Sometimes there is a clear message. In this case, I think it is very much a mixed picture.

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If anything, the two main parties would have to acknowledge that there is some disillusionment with both Labour and Conservatives – hence the slightly better performance by the Liberal Democrats and the Greens. 

My own view with nearly two years to the next General Election, these results tell us little about what the national picture might be in the future.

More importantly, they matter for the government of today in local areas, very much including our own.

Actually, probably one of the most important local elections and the one which could have serious national implications is that of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

We will have to wait and see what comes of the inter-party negotiations but I very much hope that the Northern Irish politicians will put the interests of the local communities before anything else.

This is, of course, what we expect of all our local politicians.

Finally, I just want to say a thank you to all candidates who stood for election in our area – whatever Party they stood for.

Without candidates we would not have a democratic system, and I know as much as anyone how exhausting, difficult (and exhilarating!) the campaign trail can be.

Whether they won or lost, we do owe a thank you to all those who took the time to stand to represent the people of their local areas.

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