The Golden Rosette Awards

The Golden Rosette Awards

So the voting is over and the dust is just beginning to settle. We are sure there will be sore heads and sleepy eyes today. We wish all candidates and activists a swift recovery, and as ever, we thank any and all candidates who put themselves up for election. Win or lose, that was a six-week marathon run at a sprint pace.

This means the end of the diary series. Thanks to all our correspondents – you know who you are, and you made it what it was.

To round things off, the Clarion presents its election awards. As ever, we do not endorse any party or candidate (Victor Grayson aside); but we've been collecting these moments through the campaign, and are delighted we can now share these with a wider audience. Don't take it too seriously...

The Award for Best Performance in a Video Series goes to Conservative Vinay Raniga in Oxford West & Abingdon, with an honourable mention to David Johnston in Didcot & Wantage with his daily video diaries. For genuine content with a message about who they are and what they stand for… rather than TikTok dancing. Suella, we're looking at you.

Vinay also gets the Duracell Bunny Award. He knew he wasn’t going to win in Oxford West & Abingdon but kept on going, campaigning endlessly in his seat and elsewhere right to the end. He ended up with second place and 8,250 votes – 15,164 less than the winner Layla Moran, though he might have done better had Reform not also netted 4,164 votes. The Clarion predicts he will be snapped up next time in a more winnable seat.

The Airmiles Award for most appearances in a constituency that isn't your own goes to Oxford East’s own Anneliese Dodds, with an honourable mention to Conservative candidate Louise Brown (who to the best of our knowledge was never seen on the doors in Oxford East, preferring to hang out in Wantage or on Facebook groups).

The Future Party Leader Award goes to Calum Miller, new LibDem MP for Bicester & Woodstock. Just a little tip for Clarion readers’ William Hill accounts.

The Uphill Struggle Award goes to Caroline Newton of Henley & Thame, who despite having electoral winds against her, and being a new candidate in the seat, still managed to get crowds of activists out daily. The Clarion has never met her but we think she must have an impressive personal vote.  She ended up with second place and 17,637 votes, to the LibDem 23,904 and Reform in at 5,213. Add Reform and Conservative votes together and you see how close that seat was...

The Planet in Peril Award very nearly went to absolutely no one. Despite the planet being in Actual Peril, almost all candidates merely paid lip service to it. In a very late charge in the final week, we give honourable mentions to a brace of LibDems: Oxford East’s Theo Jupp, who at least led with it in a leaflet instead of burying it at the bottom of the back page; Bicester & Woodstock’s Calum Miller, who did (kind of) do a tweet about it; and Layla Moran who did actually do a tweet about it. The Green Party would usually win this one, but they were mainly campaigning in Bristol Central, which produced a Green MP. Smart targeting? You decide.

The Surprise Performance in a Hustings Award goes to Brandon French from the Workers’ Revolutionary Party who, at an Oxford East hustings, admitted not just that he didn’t really know the constituency, but also that he’d just got out of prison. Honourable mention goes to Banbury’s Cassi Bellingham for having a remarkably good go at turning the genteel liberals of Charlbury into blood-red socialists.

The Even my Fans are Artists Award for the cutest signs goes to Layla Moran.

The Talking Shit Award goes to the LibDems of Oxfordshire for their non-stop coverage of Thames Water dumping sewage into rivers. Seriously guys, don't stop campaigning on this. But give our poor inbox a short rest, hey?

The Is There An Election Going On? Award goes to the Green Party who were almost invisible across the county, despite being in coalition on Oxfordshire County Council and having just celebrated stand-out victories on Oxford City Council (see also Planet in Peril award). Runner-up prize goes to the Oxford Mail, who ignored the election for three weeks before launching their coverage with “MP candidates for Oxford East share their view on LTNs”. Which are a County Council matter. No matter folks, you can get back to writing about Jeremy Clarkson now.

The People’s Front of Judea Award jointly goes to the Workers’ Revolutionary Party and the Workers’ Party, who in true “splitters!” fashion managed to share the far-left vote in Oxford East with independent socialist Jabu Nala-Hartley. They won 197, 615, and 600 votes respectively.

The Paint it Red Award goes to Sean Woodcock in Banbury with his constantly massive teams of activists. Rumours that several Oxford Labour members purchased Oxford–Banbury season tickets have not yet been discounted. (Also, Labour folks, if you’re nationalising the railways, can you put some more carriages on this line in particular? Thanks.)

The Much Missed Award goes to Georgia Meadows from Witney Labour who started out so promisingly. While she may have taken a step back from this campaign, we hope she feels able to stand again one day.

The Coulda Woulda Shoulda Award also goes to Labour in Witney for parachuting in a candidate from Harrow, Antonio Weiss, at the last minute. He came fourth, behind Reform UK, in a seat where Labour came second as recently as 2017. Are we alone in wondering if the result would have been different if a local champion like Duncan Enright or Ruth Smith had been the candidate?

And the Gracious in Defeat Award also goes to Antonio Weiss for a generous and timely concession tweet to his rivals. Well played.

The Sir Humphrey Appleby Award for Courageous Decisions goes to Victoria Prentis for her constant campaigning on the Horton Hospital in Banbury. The Horton was downgraded in 2016, a decision confirmed in 2019, and turned down by Government for funding in 2023. Victoria Prentis had been a Government minister since (checks notes) 2016.

The Hiding Their Light Under a Bushel Award goes to David Johnston of Didcot & Wantage who, after weeks of earnest but straightforward campaigning, in the final week suddenly pulled out a bunch of endorsements and casework history plus a life history of running youth charities. In the end his vote tally was 15,560 vs the eventual LibDem winner with 21,793 votes. What would have happened if he had said this earlier?

The Copy and Paste Award goes to East Oxford Conservatives who urged voters not to vote Reform. There was no Reform candidate in Oxford East.

The Political Parent Award goes to Rupert Harrison for taking time out of the campaign to take their child to see Taylor Swift. We respect that. Priorities. It did indeed turn out to be a Cruel Summer, but in the very nicest way possible we hope Harrison will see the silver lining in being able to spend more time with them for a little while. Snap general elections make for brutal campaigns and are hard on candidates and their families.

And that’s it for another five (we hope) years. We hope you’ve enjoyed our weekly round-ups: come for the diary, stick around for the local politics.

With five new Oxfordshire MPs keen to make a mark, this is only the start of the story. If you’ve got something you think people need to hear about, drop us a line. But maybe give us a few days’ rest first…

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