Since the General Election the Solihull Council has been run by a Lib Dem/Labour coalition despite the Tories being the largest party. I believe it is the only Lib Dem led authority in the West Midlands. However, control is on a knife-edge. At the start of the day, the coalition had a working majority of just one. This is what makes today's by-election in Olton - a contest over a Lib Dem held seat in which the Lib Dem and Conservatives are regarded as the main contenders - a fairly important political event in local government terms and in West Midlands politics.
Here is an interesting type of campaign leaflet. Printed in Conservative blue and distributed on the day of the election, from the cover page below, it looks like a note of apology from the Conservative team.
It was no such thing and the Conservative team who ran a positive campaign have not apologised and have absolutely nothing to apologise for. Inside is a note from one of the incumbent Lib Dem councillors (note that neither the candidate herself or his ward colleague felt able to sign it) apologising on behalf of the Conservatives, which of course he has no right to do. Cllr Windmill even brings a dead body into the Lib Dem message.
This evening the Conservative campaign office was inundated with calls of complaint from voters (some of whom were previously Lib Dems disgusted by this particular leaflet). One mentioned that he's been through all the literature to see what the author of the literature was getting at, but couldn't find anything. On the other hand, we'll probably never know how many voters were fooled by these nasty tactics. I don't think we've heard the end of this matter. The first question is of course who authorised this disgusting and dishonest piece of literature.
Update 21 January 2011 0034hrs
LD 1188, Con 1179, Lab 280, Ind 228, Green 115.