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Understanding the local election results

It’s not over yet.

What are we to make of the local elections? The headline losses for Labour speak for themselves, but there are some important points to note behind these. Although they never looked like losing it, Labour won the Manchseter mayoralty on a huge swing. While the usual doomsayers were quick to bemoan the leadership qualities of Jeremy Corbyn, Andy Burnham argued that Corbyn “added to the vote in many ways”.

Above is an intersting graphic showing the party share of the vote in the mayoral elections. Labour lost the Tees Valley and West Midlands mayoralties by very narrow margins and in the former case on just a 21% turnout. Even in the southwest, a Corbynite candidate lost out by just 4,000 votes.

In Wales, despite losses overall, they held Cardiff and other cities and made gains in Swansea, despite a big effort led by May to redraw the political map there. The Scottish results must be seen in a context where the Tories are now seen as the most full-blooded supporters of Brexit and non-independence and it’s a sign that the SNP strategy of linking the two issues is backfiring. It was noteworthy that a Conservative who won a seat in Glasgow thanked the SNP for their strategy, rather than blaming Labour’s years of control of the city council for his win. Labour was never going to make a breakthrough in Scotland in this time frame given the deep-rooted nature of Labour’s problems there.

Extrapolating from these reaults across the UK, Labour are about 11 points behind the Tories – bad – but a narrower gap than existing polls have claimed so far. The 20 plus point poll lead that was being reported less than a fortnight ago is now history. Hence Tory caution on taking nothing for granted.

UKIP lost every seat they were defending bar one. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour can take credit for that, not just from the Stoke by-election onwards, but because if any other Labour leader who ran in 2015 or 2016 had  been elected, they would have made concessions to UKIP’s line on immigration. Whatever else the general election throws up, we will have destroyed UKIP at a time when other such movements are growing across Europe. That is important.

The Lib Dem recovery never happened – so much for them being the repositiory of disgruntled Remainers. This vindicates Labour’s position of articulating a different Brexit that works for ordinary people, as opposed to Blair’s irrelevant idea that the election should be a re-run of the 2016 EU referendum. The collapse of UKIP and the continued decline of the Lib Dems – from an already low base midway through the Coalition – also adversely affected Labour. In Hastings, for example, we lost three seats, but increased our share of the vote from 38 to 45%.

Personally, I think Labour will continue to close the gap. Their policies are more popular. Jeremy Corbyn is a tireless campaigner and unlike May, actually looks as if he’s enjoying it. Turnout will be higher in June and that should help Labour. John McDonnell said after the last leadership election that we needed a year to turn the bad polls around – in fact we’ve been given eight months only. But our membership is three times larger than at the last election and morale seems high. The Tory campaign by contrast looks contrived, given their refusal to debate publicly or meet real voters and even desperate in their claims that Eurocrats are trying to distort the outcome, obviously an appeal to dimmer UKIP voters. They have even taken “Conservative” off some of their election literature – their pollsters are telling them it doesn’t appeal. So they know it’s not a done deal – pundit John Curtice said exactly this on BBC – he also said the SNP have a bigger job on their hands than they thought – and we should take courage from that.


  1. jeffrey davies says:

    forgive my english
    but the people have had of greedie councilors and that whot blair brought to the party greed now corbyns is a different kettle of fish bringing back true labour policys that we like these side elections are or was about greedie ones but the main attraction will be corbyn and you bet there be more than voting for this man i only hope is he keeps up and stays healthy for the lot of us because if he fails i dread to think whot britain will be like jeffrey davies

  2. Steven Johnston says:

    You lot are WWI generals trying to put a positive spin on the losses. This time next year lads…keep fighting for Corbyn and country!

  3. James Martin says:

    Yes, we can take some comfort from the implosion of the ukips and the end of them being any kind of electoral threat. However, we should not get carried away. There is behind that headline the somewhat more alarming problem that while most of those former ukips voters went to the Tories, before they become ukips voters a chunk of these working class votes came originally from Labour and so while there have not been masses of direct Labour to Tory voting changes at this local election indirectly the picture is much less comforting I think and needs a lot of careful analysis as to why they didn’t come back to Labour – is it purely Brexit related or is there more to it than that? Was it these Labour-ukips-Tory travelling votes that lost us the Teeside and West Midland mayor contests in particular?

  4. Tony says:

    In order to defeat the Conservatives, we need to ensure that we are able to counter their arguments. This is the case when canvassing on the doorstep or when talking to family members, friends or neighbours.

    Here are some examples of problems and responses:

    Example 1:

    Jeremy Corbyn opposes nuclear weapons.

    Most countries in the world do not have nuclear weapons. And, yes, Corbyn did vote against Trident replacement.

    “Our independent nuclear deterrent is not independent and doesn’t constitute a deterrent against anybody that we regard as an enemy. It is a waste of money and it is a diversion of funds. But some people have not caught up with this reality.”

    Michael Portillo, former Conservative Defence Secretary

    Example 2:

    Theresa May is a strong leader.

    She never tires of telling us this. But a strong leader would hardly need to do this.
    She is certainly not strong enough to debate with other party leaders. She has made that very clear by her refusal to appear.

    When you see her on the news, she only ever appears before groups of Conservative Party cheerleaders holding up signs. Unlike Jeremy Corbyn, you never see her addressing crowds of ordinary voters. To be fair, John Major did but she will not risk it.

    Example 3: Jeremy Corbyn is a threat to our security.

    The intelligence services warned that invading Iraq would lead to an increased danger of terrorism. They were right.

    Jeremy Corbyn thought this might happen and voted against the Iraq War.
    By contrast, Theresa May voted for that war. She also did the same thing, with the same disastrous outcome, when it came to Libya.

    Example 4:

    The last Labour government spent too much money and so cannot be trusted to run the economy.

    But the Conservative Party matched Labour’s spending plans when they were in opposition. The economic crisis was actually caused by insufficient regulation of the banks and other financial institutions. In opposition, the Conservatives urged the Labour government to go further in de-regulating them. This would have made the crisis even worse.

  5. Steven Johnston says:

    Meanwhile over in France…if you lot are pro-Brexit, you must be kicking yourselves that Le Pen lost the election & that the pro-EU candidate won!

    1. James Martin says:

      The bosses win either way Steven, those of us who voted for Brexit (and I was one of them) did so based on the wish to allow a future socialist Labour government the ability to re-nationalise our railways, mail, utilities, steel etc., things that are effectively illegal in the EU post Lisbon Treaty.

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