Alistair Burt’s monthly column: After a day of mixed emotions, it’s time to get going

The North East Beds MP writes exclusively for the readers of the Times & Citizen, the Biggleswade Chronicle, and their websites

Monday, 9th May 2011, 5:48 pm

Last week’s elections offered an interesting snapshot locally and nationally about how we see our councils and government.

A government will normally suffer from the ‘two onto one’ effect, as two parties tell the public where the government is going wrong, maximising its pain. This time that was not present, and was in effect reversed as the coalition came together to remind the public that it was Labour’s massive economic failure which meant we were in such financial difficulties anyway. And we had the referendum too.

Peering through this mist a few days later, what do we see? Nationally David Cameron, and Alex Salmond of the SNP, were the big winners. The Conservatives actually gained some 80 councillors, quite remarkable from such a high base.

A very good result for my colleagues in Central Bedfordshire saw them keep up their share of the vote and be returned handsomely, with extra Conservatives on Bedford Borough too.

The SNP snatched a stunning victory from Labour in Scotland, which must hurt, opening up a Referendum on Scottish Independence, or the break up of the United Kingdom to put it another way. I’m not keen, but that’s an argument for another day.

And the referendum went the Prime Minister’s way, about which I am keener.

Not good nationally for Labour, which might have expected more, and extremely tough for the Lib Dems, having to endure for the first time the pain of councillors taking it on the chin as a result of colleagues being in government, an indignity we and Labour are more used to.

But I think they will get over it and remain part of what has been a good coalition for the country, and one which receives popular support from many who are not politically aligned for trying to act in the national interest.

Which leaves us with Bedford Borough, bucking trends as usual and now seemingly irrevocably split equally between the main parties at council level, with a few hardy independents on the side.

As a Conservative I will not disguise disappointment at John Guthrie not being mayor after an excellently put-together campaign supporting someone who would have been well worthy of the role.

But equally I will not fail to recognise a mayor who pulled it off against national expectation, and give him all credit for having done so.

Losing hurts a bit, but I think Bedford’s public would expect nothing less, all this now being settled for the next four years, than for elected representatives to act together in the interests of our fascinating mixed rural and urban borough.

It won’t mean an end to opposing, or tough debate, or the proper offering of different choices to you, the public, but where we can jointly do better for Bedford Borough I am up for it.

Let’s get going.