Dear members and supporters
I have to start by acknowledging that June 8 was not a great day for us. The result was a shock and a bitter disappointment after so much work by Rob and everyone who helped canvass, deliver, tell, donate or host a board. A number of people have asked whether we had any inclination that was coming. I really don't think it was apparent at the time. There was some evidence that Labour was viewing Reading East as a target seat in the final days of the campaign, but in fact our vote held up well - as evidenced by the 23,344 votes for Rob - actually a small increase on the 2015 vote. So there was no indication that Conservative voters lost confidence and either stayed at home or voted for other parties. If, as a 'remain' constituency in the EU referendum in 2016, people wanted to express their desire to stay in the EU then they might have supported the only mainstream party explicitly pro-EU: the Liberal Democrats. In fact the LibDem vote fell from that in 2015 to 3,378. Sadly it appeared that nearly all the opposition voters fell into the Labour column. UKIP did not have a candidate, but it seems that few of their votes came our way. The Green vote fell by 2,000 in preference to Labour. In combination, the Labour vote increased from 16,697 in 2015 to 27,093 this year,
One interesting fact was that when the election was called by Mrs May on 18 April there were 70,000 eligible voters on the electoral roll in Reading East. By the date of the election, just over 6 weeks later, this had increased to 75,000. So in the intervening period some 5,000 people had registered to vote. We can only surmise that most of these were students who voted for the Labour party. The pattern of university towns full of students voting for free tuition fees was not unique to Reading. Other towns and cities with a large term time student population fell in the same way.
So a very disappointing day, most especially for Rob Wilson. Over the summer months we will reflect on how to move forwards in Reading. More positively, all our neighbouring MPs were re-elected and Alok Sharma in Reading West is now the Minister for Housing and Planning.
On a brighter note, we held the Association summer party onboard the Caversham Princess on 22 June. The weather held, the Thames was calm, the Pimms and buffet excellent. We listened to an a cappella quartet during supper and then a marvellous speech by Baroness Scott. She was completely open and honest in her assessment of the election, what needs to be done now and how the House of Lords will work. I was particularly pleased by many of the students and young people present who said how engaging they found the talk. Some photographs of the evening will shortly appear on the website. Quite a few people who chatted with Lady Scott during the evening plan to take up her invitation to tea in the House of Lords.
Our next association event is the monthly drinks which we will hold on Wednesday 26 July at The White Horse pub in Emmer Green RG4 8SD. We will congregate around 8pm. Do come along, meet a few new and old members and share your views about what the party needs to do now to hold our seats in the local elections next summer and win the next General Election.