Norwich MP views local election results as a 'tale of two cities'

Question time event at Notre Dame High School, Norwich.MP Clive Lewis.Picture: Nick Butcher

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis - Credit: Nick Butcher

Local election results in Norwich reveal “a tale of two cities”, Norfolk’s only Labour MP has said.

Commenting on the results across the city, which saw some Labour majorities strengthened despite losing a ward to the Greens, Norwich South MP Clive Lewis said: “It’s a tale of two cities. It really is.

“Norwich North has a Conservative MP, and yet the Labour vote is up.

“The majorities in those seats, [in] which we were scraping by a little while ago, [are] pretty solid.

“Then you come to Norwich South with a Labour MP, and you’ve got Green votes going up.

“I guess if you wanted to break that down, you’ve got a lot of Tories either staying at home, or voting Liberal Democrat or Green, to block Labour.

“It’s a mixed picture, but I’m really grateful that at the end of the day, we still have a Labour-run city council.”

City Hall in Norwich.

City Hall remains firmly under Labour control following the 2022 local elections, but the Greens gained one ward - Credit: Nick Butcher

Looking at the state of the parties nationally, Mr Lewis said: “It looks like in London we’ve done well. But outside, I guess, less so.

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“I think the thing is on local elections, it’s very difficult to extrapolate a national picture."

He added however that the Conservative party had adopted a “more authoritarian, hard right, socially regressive agenda”, which was “obviously going to have an impact on parts of the country, where the demographic is more highly educated, more cosmopolitan, so in cities, that’s what you’re seeing - social liberals turn away from the Conservatives to alternative parties.”

Amid the local election results, news also broke of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer being put under investigation by Durham police for his participation in the so-called ‘beergate’ event, in which he and some staff drank beer and ate takeaway curries during the Covid restrictions of April 2021.

Mr Starmer has previously stated the event was a necessary break from work for him and his team, while preparing for that year's local elections, and was therefore not a breach of the regulations. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer will be the first Labour leader to speak to the National Farmers' Union (NFU) conference since 2008 - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Mr Lewis said: “I think you need to let the police investigation take place and deal with what comes out of that.

"It could be that nothing transpires and he’s found completely innocent, in which [case], this will all be water under the bridge. 

"If the police have decided an investigation’s right and proper, then I’m sure that’s the right thing to do and then we can await that investigation."

Asked whether his leader should resign in the event of a fine, Mr Lewis responded: “That’s a hypothetical, and I try not to comment on hypotheticals.”

Earlier on Friday, prime minister Boris Johnson acknowledged his party's results were "mixed".

And North Norfolk Conservative MP Duncan Baker said the parties at Downing Street had played their part in how people had voted.

Duncan Baker has been chosen as the Conservative candidate for North Norfolk for the next general el

Duncan Baker has been chosen as the Conservative candidate for North Norfolk for the next general election.Picture: Victoria Pertusa - Credit: Archant

He said: "I think the results we’ve seen so far understandably reflect the concerns of voters.

"The rising cost of living, alongside issues such as the parties in 10 Downing Street, are clearly important to people and matter.

"We have to be honest and recognise why some voters may want a change.

"However, I also think these results are perhaps not the catastrophe many predicted.

"In England, the big shifts so far appear to mainly centre around London.

"Arguably the north has fared better than the south for the Conservatives."

Norwich North Conservative MP Chloe Smith, said her party would remain "utterly focused".

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith - Credit: Richard Townshend Photography

She said: "What’s clear both in Norwich and across the country is that Labour are not making the gains they talked up - indeed are losing, such as in Sewell ward here.

"Conservatives everywhere will stay utterly focused on the important issues and delivering on people’s priorities.”

Jerome Mayhew, Conservative MP for Broadland said: “It’s not a surprise that the biggest issue on the doorstep was the cost of living. This really matters.

“Whilst we can argue that this is a global issue, with higher inflation in the USA and the Eurozone, this is of little comfort to someone struggling to pay their bills.

“The government has done a huge amount already to soften the blow, but the message today is that voters want even greater focus on this.

“Partygate was also an issue and we need to recognise this and work to earn the trust of voters.”

Waveney MP Peter Aldous, South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon, Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman, Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis, South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss and North West Norfolk MP James Wild have all been approached for comment on the election results.

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said: "Mid-term local elections are always challenging for incumbent governments, so some mixed results are not a surprise - we approached these elections with the battleground in Labour's favour, with the geography skewed towards their base. 

"Labour have been losing seats where they should be gaining them. While many results are still to come in, as it stands Keir Starmer looks set to have failed this critical test of his leadership of the Labour Party."