English Council Elections

Written By: - Date published: 10:02 am, May 7th, 2018 - 16 comments
Categories: elections, International, labour, local government, uk politics - Tags:

I’ve refrained thus far from commenting too much on here about English politics. Having moved to the country in September I felt it appropriate to sit back and observe for a bit. But having just gone through and voted in the recent council elections I have a few observations.

Firstly unlike New Zealand, in the UK councils are very much more party political. So councils have Labour, Conservative or Lib Dem majorities. This is a refreshing change from New Zealand. There you get 10 candidates tell you how much they love Upper Hutt, and if you’re lucky their opinion on fluoride in the drinking water. Ultimately you have no idea what these candidates stand for, and many just don’t bother voting as a result.

The downside to Party Political council elections is that the media interest is primarily what the impact of local council elections on national politics. This has included projections for how many seats each party would get in the house on commons based on these results, despite the fact that not all councils were up for re-election. More importantly, while some will be voting on party lines, many others are likely to vote on local issues. Someones vote in council elections may not reflect how they would vote in a general election.

Many are saying that Labour did not perform as well as expected in the council elections, both in London and Nationally. Some are now saying that the country has reached “peak Corbyn.”  Ex spin doctor for Tony Blair Alastair Campbell believes Labour are “a long way from power” (though of course Campbell is still struggling with the fact that its no longer 1997 and his era of politics is long gone).

The response to this by Labour and Momentum has been that they actually had a successful election. The counter argument is that this was best election result for Labour in England since 1971. The issue was that target councils such as Chelsea and Kensington were held by the Conservatives despite that councils handling of the Grenfell Tower fire. Polls earlier in the year did show a Conservative loss in Chelsea and Kensington was possible. Labour and specifically Momentum talked up the prospect of Labour winning this council, along with Westminster and Wandsworth. The reality is these councils have been Tory strong holds since the 1960s, so building expectations that Labour could win there was optimistic. Also the Conservatives clearly campaigned hard to retain this and neighbouring Westminster Council.

The other factor is the First Past the Post voting system. In Wandsworth Labour won slightly more votes than the Conservatives, but the Conservatives retained control of that council. In Richmond the Liberal Democrats won over 70% of seats with fewer than half the votes. Apart from the Electoral Reform Society there has been little comment about this. A better electoral system would help achieve better representation and results that actually reflect the will of the people. Hopefully this changes for future elections.

I know a few people who ran in these elections, from various Parties. To those who were successful, congratulations. To those who were unsuccessful, well done for putting yourself forward. Local Government serves an important role in our communities, its important that people get involved.

~ Nick Kelly

16 comments on “English Council Elections”

  1. Gosman 1

    The issue then is that Labour set expectations too high and failed to meet those expectations. That is a fail in my book.

    • Bill 1.1

      They gained in total number of seats won. That didn’t necessarily translate into council control. (Why would it?)

      Step by step is how it goes.

      The surge happened. Now it’s about consolidating and pushing forwards.

      From media reports these past years, Labour “should” have been a bubble that was going to pop.

      Hell, just the other week, major newspapers in the UK were running lines on the formation of a new party that was (apparently) necessary because Labour was out of touch. That new party stood in some councils. It won precisely zero seats.

      • Gosman 1.1.1

        Considering the Tories are in a real mess at the moment the fact that Labour isn’t doing much better should be of concern to them. What seems to be happening is people are rediscovering the Lib Dems.

        • Bill

          I don’t think that voting a Lib Dem onto a council seat is going to have any bearing whatsoever on peoples’ voting intentions when it comes to parliamentary elections.

          And yes, the Tories are a mess, but look at the headlines and the anti-Labour shite the media is running.

          • cleangreen

            The media is always today exclusively a right wing tory trumpet as Gosman is,

            Media are now under high public levels of suspicion and are not taken seriously at the ballot box any more.

            • Gosman

              So the Mirror and The Guardian are now Right wing are they?

              What about the BBC?

          • Gosman

            You mean the factually accurate issues around problems with anti-Semitism within elements of the UK Labour Party?

            • Bill

              I mean the spin and the hype and the seeming constant search for a negative angle even when positive shit has gone down (eg the stories slamming Corbyn for having spent time with the wrong Jews!)

              And in reply to your other comment, the Guardian has done nothing but seek to undermine Labour while the beeb….I mean, seriously Gos? – you suggesting the BBC is impartial?

              • Gosman

                A State funded Media organisation is unlikely to be unbiased. However whether it is biased against the left or not is a different matter.

                • Bill

                  What idea is liberal democracy built around? What idea is the left built around?

                  The answer to your seemingly innocent question lies in the answers 😉

        • Bearded Git

          Conservatives 35 Labour 35 Libdems 16 would mean at the next general election, given

          1. the Libdems are likely to win quite a few more seats next time and will go with Labour
          2. The thirty-odd SNP seats will go with Labour

          hat Labour will easily be in power with Corbyn as PM on these results.

          The collapse of UKIP should have meant the Conservatives picking up lots of seats but this did not happen.

    • Gabby 1.2

      Asprashnl gossy, asprayshnl.

  2. Ad 2

    I like that last para.

    • Incognito 2.1

      Yup, that was well said and went to the heart of what politics is or should be all about: the people.

  3. Craig Haggis 3

    There’s a whole country out there Nick, it would have been good to hear about councils north of Watford, like Kirklees which went Labour as did Plymouth (it’s in the south-west).
    Labour’s vote was encouraging as it consolidated the 2014 elections in which these same councils held a vote. The LibDems vote rose, but only slightly, and they are way behind what they were in 2014. The vote for the odious UKIP collapsed thankfully, good riddance to them.

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