DISAPPOINTED Labour saw their vote share tumble in Gloucester after failing to grab any of their three target seats.
Despite throwing huge resources into Podsmead, Tuffley and Grange, the party slumped. Its biggest scalp of the night would have been unseating the city council’s deputy leader Jennie Dallimore (C, Podsmead) who won by just 26 votes four years ago. Instead, she more than doubled her slim majority.
VIDEO: JENNIE DALLIMORE ON HER VICTORY OVER LABOUR
In 2012 the party, whose campaign was run by leader Kate Haigh, took 33 per cent of the vote but that fell to 26 per cent on Thursday.
Questions are now expected to be asked as to the viability of parliamentary candidate Sophy Gardner’s campaign.
Labour hoped to keep their number of total votes within 1,500 of the Tories in order to give Ms Gardner a chance of toppling city MP Richard Graham’s 2,420 majority next year. But their vote tumbled 3,779 votes below that of their rivals.
Ms Gardner said: "I am not complacent. This will just make me work harder in the next year. We have got a lot to learn locally and nationally."
An embattled Ms Haigh, who could not hide her disappointment at the count, admitted: “We had hoped to do better.”
But she added: “We fought a tough campaign in places like Podsmead and there has been no change in the council. It was a close result. Jennie’s majority is bigger, yes, but it is hardly resounding support for her. There were only a handful of votes in it.”
Asked if she felt Ms Gardner’s campaign would be hampered, she said: “Absolutely not. With the European elections on the same day, people didn’t know how to vote. I think it is very difficult to draw conclusions. Sophy is a very strong candidate.”
Ms Haigh was unaware of her party leader Ed Miliband’s cost of living gaffe last week when he miscalculated the cost of his own weekly shop. She refutes the idea that any perceived weakness with Mr Miliband could affect Ms Gardner’s chances.
She also insisted that she would run the next election campaign and that her job as leader of the city group is safe. “I am looking forward to getting back into council work,” she said.
Ms Gardner revealed, however, that there 'will be one campaign for 2015, not two campaigns', and admitted that it would be her that takes the responsibility for Labour's performance both nationally and locally next year.
Ms Haigh’s council group has been mocked on occasions for being ‘tame’, but in a sign that she plans to toughen up the position of her nine-strong team, she said: “The Tories have major problems with the council’s senior management since so many have left.
“It is a real worry and we are going to be making sure that this council goes in the right direction.”
Ms Haigh yesterday receiving the backing of Tom Coole, the party's unsuccessful candidate in the Hucclecote ward, who took to Twitter to say:
— Tom Coole (@Tom_Coole) May 23, 2014