Sunday, 5th May, 2024

[Day 1511]

Whilst Meg was laying on the floor yesterday afternoon, the knife-edge result of the contest for the West Midlands mayor was coming to its conclusion. But the announcement of a result that was originally scheduled for 3.0pm in the afternoon eventually came closer to 9.00pm with the real drama unfolding once Meg was asleep in bed (after quite a traumatic day for her) The opinion polls have generally shown the popular Tory Andy Street to be 1-2 percentage points ahead of his rival, Richard Harper, but the entire political commentariat knew that the result was going to be very tight indeed. The very first indication that all might not be going the Conservative’s way was a ‘bundle recount’ for the result from Coventry which was the second last result to be declared. Normally, the side that believes it is behind calls for the recount but once all of this had been resolved, we had to settle back and wait for the very last reporting area which was Sandwell. By this stage, though, Andy Street was leading his rival by some 11,500 votes so we had to wait what seemed an indeterminable time for the Sandwell vote to materialise. Then some Labour supporters started to flood into the hall which is normally what the ‘winning’ side do to celebrate the result. When Sky News got an intimation of the result (reporting that the Labour party had won by 1,000 votes) we suspected that a stunning victory was about to happen. The vote from Sandwell gave Richard Harper an excess of some nearly 13,000 votes meaning that the margin of victory was 1,508 votes which was estimated to be about 0.2% of the total vote. Andy Street gave a short but appropriate speech in defeat and afterwards allowed himself to be interviewed by Sophie Ridge. I think she gave a very sympathetic and well judged interview and Andy Street himself accepted entire responsibility for the defeat, refusing to cast any blame upon Rishi Sunak. But we know that the mayor and the PM had their difficulties in the past, not least when Rishi Sunak was Chancellor and refused to entertain any requests for extra resources and, of course, the cancellation of HS2 was a major cause of contention between them. Although the margin of victory/defeat was incredibly small, the political ramifications are enormous. The mass of Tory MP’s are not in a mood to change their leader at this stage. But there are several sobering statistics that can be gleaned from this contest for the mayors. The swing against the successful mayor for the Tees valley is still enough to wipe out most of not all of the gains that were made in the North East by the Johnson era. Needless, the amount of analysis given to the West Midlands result is enormous, not least because Keir Starmer is demonstrating a momentum and the ability to steal ‘the jewel in the crown’ whilst the Tories are having to contemplate their worst defeat in 40 years, losing half of the seats that they were contesting (nearly 500). There is a certain amount of misplaced excitement as an analysis has been done of what would happen if these were a general election rather a local election results. But this analysis is fundamentally flawed if only people the electorate is prepared to vote in one way in local elections and another way at a general election. Also local elections stimulate a lot of ‘Independents’ which the general election does not. Also, of course, we have to factor in the result of the traumas that the SNP is experiencing in Scotland which could well give the Labour party some additional seats.

This morning, knowing that it is so difficult to get Meg into a standing position so that she can transfer from her armchair to her transit (wheel) chair, I tried a more imaginative solution. I knew that somewhere I had a triangular foam wedge which I located and then chopped down to a size which would fit snugly into Meg’s armchair. I reasoned that if Meg were to be seated on this wedge, it would ‘de facto’ raise the height of the seat and then we might be able to slide her onto the transit chair. So after the care workers had seen to Meg and then brought her downstairs, we tried a little experiment to see if my solution would work – if there was any danger of Meg hitting the floor again, then I thought the two carers and myself could catch Meg before she did so. But my solution was evidently not going to work so had to be abandoned. Just after breakfast, our University of Birmingham phoned and I decided to have coffee here rather than go out anywhere. Our friend and I between us managed to get Meg into her transit chair in which I kept her whilst I prepared the lunch. Then after lunch, I transported her into our main lounge where the settee is lower than the transit chair by several inches. So in a case like this, although Meg cannot stand, she can be got up and then half ‘fall’ onto the settee where she could doze and spend the rest of the afternoon. The early afternoon was a blaze of sunshine so whilst Meg was on the settee and prevented from rolling off by a suitably located and braked transit chair, I seized the opportunity to get the front lawns cut. This I did in three tranches rather than the more usual four so this is a good job done. Meg seemed quite sleepy this afternoon so perhaps the 2 x 1.5 hours that she had spent on the floor yesterday after her falls had taken their toll on her. Half way through the afternoon, one of the young carers called around and between us, although it was a considerable struggle, we managed to just about get Meg changed and comfortable because there was no way we could get her to stand which was our original plan.