Friday 5 May 2017

Local Election Results Point to a Tory Landslide in the UK General Election, Probably

Yesterday’s local election results in England, Scotland and Wales, were good for the Tories, with all of the results in they have gained 562 councillors and won control of an extra 11 councils. They also won four of the six ‘metro’ mayor contests too. If this pattern of results is repeated in the general election next month, then we are looking at something like a hundred seat overall majority for the Tories in Parliament.

For Labour, although it might have been worse, with them performing well in the cities of south Wales, and winning big in the ‘metro’ mayoral elections in Manchester and Liverpool, it was overall a very poor result though. They lost ground to the Tories in Lancashire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, and control of seven councils overall and losing 382 councillors in all. You can’t spin that in any other way than bad, but I will attempt to later in this post.

The Lib Dems, who had high hopes of making big gains, and were all set to use these local elections as a springboard for next month’s general election. They did not make the hoped for gains in the south west of England though, and more of this later as well. Overall the Lib Dems lost 41 councillors net.

UKIP had a meltdown in this election, losing all of the council seats they were defending and gaining only one in Lancashire, a net loss of 145 councillors. It is hard to see where UKIP goes from here, but they must surely think about disbanding all together. I predicted their demise in October last year, because there isn’t really any point to them anymore, now they have achieved what they set out to do, get and win a referendum taking the UK out of the European Union (EU). The Tories appear to have taken their voters with their hard Brexit stance and tough talk about the negotiations with EU.  

The Green Party, made modest gains in these local elections, with a net gain of 6 councillors, but the Greens are the only party, other than the Tories, to make any net gains in England. The Greens gained two councillors in Somerset and one in Dorset, Devon and Gloucestershire in the south west of England, which gives a clue as why the Lib Dems didn’t do as well as they were hoping for in this region. This bodes well for the Greens in their number two general election target seat of Bristol West, in the south west. The Scottish Greens gained 5 councillors in Scotland also.

The share of the vote for the bigger parties, which is something of a projection when comparing local election results with general election forecasts, is:

Conservative 38%
Labour 27%
Lib Dem 18%  

From this point of view it doesn’t look so bad as the general election opinion polls have been indicating, with the Tories holding an average percentage lead over Labour in the high teens and the Lib Dems polling around 12%. The turn-out was low at around 30%, which is less than half of the probable general election turn-out, so we should be cautious about drawing too many conclusions from these results.

The other thing is, some people do vote differently in local elections than in general elections, where local issues come more into play, and voters know that they are not electing a government. This could possibly go either way in the general election, where people may be more willing to vote tactically against the Tories, than in council elections, but it may be that the less committed voters will turn-out in bigger numbers and re-elect the Tories to government.

One thing is for sure, Labour will need to perform much better against the Tories in the general election or we are set for Tory hegemony, for perhaps two or three general elections into the future. There are less than five weeks now until the general election, which doesn’t leave much time, but Labour needs to at least get into the low 30s percentage wise, and the Tories to fall further below the 38% shown in the projection above. 

If the Lib Dems can maintain something like 18% of the vote, or improve on this, in the general election, and crucially it is concentrated in constituencies where they are challenging the Tories, all may not be lost. There was no local elections in London yesterday, where, normally, the Tories don't do well. The SNP need to hold off the Tories in Scotland too. The Tories overall majority could be kept reasonably low, or even lost completely if all of this happens. 

I have to admit, it is getting very difficult to be optimistic about next month’s general election, but it not over until it is over. I may be clutching at straws, but I still have some hope left, just.

1 comment:

  1. In the Gospel Oak By-Election in Camden, Labour won by a landslide after the exiting Labour cllr stated she could no longer afford to live in the area.

    But what are we to make of the 36.24% turnout?

    Alan Wheatley