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UK Council Elections; A Referendum on Corbyn?

Written By: - Date published: 1:57 pm, May 6th, 2016 - 49 comments
Categories: elections, International, Jeremy Corbyn, Politics, uk politics, uncategorized - Tags: ,

The UK’s council, assembly and mayoral elections are the first major test for Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. If Labour do poorly (as polls suggest), then the likelihood of an attempted coup will rise significantly. Early indications are that there might be a protest vote toward smaller parties such as UKIP and the Greens. Indeed, the Greens are celebrating an historic first seat on the Cannock Chase council.

There are signs that Labour has done very poorly in North London, which has a high Jewish population. This is likely a backlash against the ill thought out and possibly anti-Semitic remarks of former MP and former London Mayor Ken Livingstone. Corbyn has been accused of bungling the matter, which saw Livingstone suspended from Labour while an investigation takes place.

However, Labour candidate for the London Mayoralty, Sadiq Khan, is still likely to romp home against Tory Zac Goldsmith.

There are polls right across the UK, and outside of England, most focus will be on Scotland, where the SNP will look to cement their majority in the Holyrood Parliament. However, there is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the nationalists, as they struggle with the reality of delivering on their rhetoric from the devolved, but relatively poweless Parliament. That discontent may not help Scottish Labour in the least, but it could see other parties lift their vote.

The first results are trickling in. They can be followed on the Guardian’s live blog and on their Results Tracker.

The BBC have coverage here.

UPDATE: There are also Parliamentary by-elections. Labour have comfortably won both Ogmore and Sheffield Brightside & Hillsborough, which will be a comfort to Corbyn.

UPDATE 2: The Tories have lost ground in the south of England, their usual heartland. Labour have not had as bad a night as some had predicted, except north of Hadrian’s wall.

49 comments on “UK Council Elections; A Referendum on Corbyn? ”

  1. joe90 1

    There are signs that Labour has done very poorly in North London, which has a high Jewish population. This is likely a backlash against the ill thought out and possibly anti-Semitic remarks of former MP and former London Mayor Ken Livingstone. Corbyn has been accused of bungling the matter, which saw Livingstone suspended from Labour while an investigation takes place.

    Courtesy of the Tory press and the Israel lobby – are you now or have you ever been anti-Zionist..


    Charley Allan, a Jewish member of the party, and a Morning Star columnist, has described the current atmosphere in the press and Labour Party as a “witch hunt.”

    It has reached such an absurd volume that any usage of the word “Zionist” is deemed to be anti-Semitic – although tellingly not when used by self-described Zionists.

    Where real instances of anti-Jewish bigotry have come to light, the leadership and party machine have taken robust action.


    In a public Facebook posting Alex Chalmers, the co-chair of the club, resigned his position over what he claimed was anti-Semitic behavior in “a large proportion” of the student Labour club “and the student left in Oxford more generally.”

    But as evidence he cited the club’s decision, in a majority vote, to endorse Oxford’s Israeli Apartheid Week, an annual awareness-raising exercise by student groups which support Palestinian rights.

    This connection was clearly designed to smear Palestine solidarity activists as anti-Semites – a standard tactic of the Israel lobby.

    In fact, the similarity was no coincidence.

    The Electronic Intifada can reveal for the first time evidence that Chalmers himself has been part of the UK’s Israel lobby.

    Chalmers has worked for BICOM, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre.


    • swordfish 1.1

      Yep. Quite an extraordinary Witch-Hunt, aided by a compliant, uncritical mainstream media, with significant input from a highly active UK Israel lobby (and the Israeli Embassy) and propelled by leading Blairites and their Old Labour Right chums (like the very prominent Labour First operative, Luke Akehurst, whose day job involves running a pro-Israeli campaign group). Aim: (1) to close down principled criticism of Israel and (2) to undermine Labour’s Local Election performance (at a point when Labour were beginning to lead the Tories in the national polls for the first time since the May 2015 Election) and hence (they hoped) destroy Corbyn’s leadership. Doesn’t appear to have worked. Looks like Labour’s come out a point ahead of the Tories and suffered far fewer losses than expected in England.

      There were already hints that the UK public weren’t buying this ludicrous “anti-Semitism” smear campaign. According to a recent YouGov Poll, 45% believed Labour had either “No” or “Only a Very Small” anti-Semitism problem, with just 22% agreeing that it has a “Fairly Big” or “Very Big” problem. The rest Unsure. This despite the fact the MSM have uncritically portrayed the crisis as symbolising a Very Serious anti-Semitism problem within the Party.

      Which isn’t to deny that Livingstone was unwise – indeed politically inept – to head down the particular road he did. But, like Corbyn, he’s spent his whole political life tackling racism … so to be accused of this by people who are being paid to downplay Israeli War Crimes, ethnic cleansing and State Terrorism is just a little too much to bear.

      Mirrors a similarly unsuccessful “anti-semitism’ slur campaign against Corbyn/McDonnell during Labour’s leadership election last year (although this latest one is obviously more intense).

      • joe90 1.1.1

        Criminalising dissent, too.

        THE U.K. GOVERNMENT today announced that it is will be illegal for “local [city] councils, public bodies, and even some university student unions … to refuse to buy goods and services from companies involved in the arms trade, fossil fuels, tobacco products, or Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.” Thus, any entities that support or participate in the global boycott of Israeli settlements will face “severe penalties.


        On 20 October, France’s highest court of criminal appeals upheld the conviction of a dozen Palestine solidarity activists for publicly calling for the boycott of Israeli goods.

        The ruling by the Court of Cassation adds to growing concerns about the harsh crackdown on free speech, backed by French President François Hollande, since the murders of journalists at the offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo in January.

        It also makes France, in addition to Israel, the only country to penalize appeals not to buy Israeli goods.

        But the French law, which includes criminal penalties, is arguably harsher than Israel’s which allows boycott supporters to be pursued for financial damages, but not jailed.


  2. whateva next? 3

    After 27 years the attempts to overpower the truth with power regarding Hillsborough tragedy have proved “Right will out”. These despicable people that choose greed over society ultimately do not win, and the Tories will be proven to be the sad, pathetic people they are.

  3. Bill 4

    The council elections are limited to England trp, they’re not UK local body elections.

    That aside, as I posted before, I’ve no doubt that some in Labour would love to use either the local body results or the likely train crash in Scotland as as leverage for a coup…and that was before all this supposed anti-Semitic muck started getting thrown around by reactionary elements within UK Labour. Ain’t going to happen though given that UK Labour elects leaders on a one person one vote scenario.

    As far as Scottish Labour goes, they’re dead. I think Irvin Welsh is accurate enough when he says that

    Labour were first replaced as party of the left in Scotland by SNP.
    Now they are being replaced as party of the unionist right by Tories.

    Should that reflect back on Corbyn and the Labour Party in England and Wales? No.

    Blair killed Labour in Scotland and Blair crippled Labour in England and Wales. Insofar as Corbyn is acting as the crutch being used to limp down to the rehabilitation/physio centre, it would be madness to remove him.

    • Thanks, Bill, I’ve tidied up the wording in the post, but left the post title as is, because it would be confusing to change it now. I see Labour are doing well in Wales, and set to retain power there. They’ve also held onto their majorities in many English councils, which also confounds the critics. Scotland remains aloof to Corbyn’s charms, for the deep seated reasons you outlined. It’s probably going to take a generation for Labour to be credible again in Scotland. Or incredible mismanagement from the SNP.

      • Colonial Viper 4.1.1

        Labour don’t have “a generation” worth of time left to turn stuff around. It’s got the next two general elections. Both here and in the UK.

        • te reo putake

          Nah. Both here and in the UK, Labour remain the second most popular party by a long, long way. That’s not going to change. It’s way tougher under the UK’s FPP system for UK Labour to win back Government. Here, we’re going to do it in 18 months under MMP (with help from our coalition partners).

          The great thing about Corbyn and Sanders is that both have shown that socialism is not a dirty word and that voters can be convinced to support progressive platforms. The trick is extending that support just a little wider, to the point where a majority forms.

          Both UK Labour and NZ Labour have gone through a recent democratisation process, which has led to both being led by left wingers. That, in itself, is a generational change. The neo lib generation in both parties are on the way out. More so here than in the UK, though. They’ve still got dozens of them in caucus, we’re down to single figures.

          • Colonial Viper

            Oh cool no worries for NZ Labour then as it is all on track and there is no need for radical change as its all upwards and onwards on the Labour Left.

            • te reo putake

              Yep. But by all means carry on your rightward trajectory, CV. The rest of us will just get on with the job at hand 😉

              • Colonial Viper

                Worst performance for Scottish Labour since 1935

                No idea why you are still supporting Kezia Dugdale as Scottish Labour Leader, but good on you sticking with that ship as it goes down with political incompetence.

    • Colonial Viper 4.2

      The lovely high performing leader of Scottish Labour, Kezia Dugdale, couldn’t even win her own seat of Edinburgh Eastern. But has come back in like the typical Labour careerist, on the list.

      You just can’t get rid of these people.

      • Dugdale is a left wing gay activist, CV. She’s probably to the left of Corbyn. Do you ever think before posting? Or is your rampant misogyny more important to you than being seen as a goose?

        • Colonial Viper

          Kezia Dugdale has been, and continues to be, a leading part of Scottish Labour heading into utter oblivion.

          But good to know that you think people should support her dismally lacklustre political performance because she is a gay woman.

          When she is in fact a Labour Leader who cannot win an electorate seat.

          • Bill

            The Labour party machine and its yesteryear attitudes and politics in regard to Scotland is responsible CV. And yes, Kezia condones that party machine insofar as she fronts for it. She’s not particularly left in my opinion and has never been a gay activist (if that’s what trp was suggesting). And she becomes a MSP because the Scottish electoral process means she doesn’t necessarily have to win a seat.

            Now about the fact that UKIP will have no representatives in Holyrood….

            • te reo putake

              I don’t think us blokes get to determine whether a woman is, or is not, a gay activist, Bill. btw Scotland is unique in having LBG leaders of the main parties. It’s the new normal.

              Great about UKIP, Sadly, they seem to have done well in Wales. I’ve just realised I didn’t mention the Lib Dems in the post. That last general election changed the political map.

              • Bill

                She only ‘came out’ the other week and had stated her personal life was ‘out of bounds’ during the leadership contest. So I thinking it’s quite reasonable to pick that she wasn’t a gay activist…or at least not an overt one.

          • te reo putake

            Dugdale deserves better than your ignorant bile, CV. It’s Friday night, dude. Go out and have some fun. Come back in the morning and we’ll see how it all turned out. Cheers.

            • Colonial Viper

              At least you are determined and consistent in your support of the Scottish Labour Leader.

  4. ScottGN 5

    Scotland and, to a lesser extent Wales look pretty bleak for Labour. But the expected (by the tory press anyway) carnage in English council elections hasn’t eventuated.

    • whateva next? 5.1

      Don’t fall for the bollocks spin, and if Wales and Scotland think they can take on the Tories alone, let them.

      • ScottGN 5.1.1

        What bollocks spin? Labour’s vote has dropped about 10% in Scotland and about 8% in Wales. In English council elections the Guardian is reporting John Curtice from the BBC reporting that Labour’s vote has actually increased by about 4% and The Conservative’s vote share has dropped by the same amount.

        • whateva next?

          From the guardian, the video I have linked above, Corbyn says:
          “It’s time that many of the media, the golden circle of the media establishment, actually got out and talked to people. Many people are obsessed with this [the Labour leadership] instead of rather than what they should be obsessed with: the devastating crisis of inequality in our country.”
          and further mention of predictions of Labour losing based on ???
          The Guradian:
          “Corbyn: ‘we hung on’

          Corbyn hails the fact that Labour “hung on” to control of councils it was predicted to lose.

          Speaking in Sheffield he said: “All across England we were getting predictions that Labour was going to lose councils. We didn’t, we hung on, and we grew support in a lot of places.”

    • Bill 5.2

      I’m not so sure it was only the Tory press predicting doom for UK Labour in the local body elections. Then there’s been all that shite being thrown around claiming that anti-Semitism is rife in the more leftish sections of the party. That’s been fed as much by arseholes within Labour as elsewhere.

      What crossed my mind was a simple monkey wrenching exercise to ‘make sure’ Labour tanked in England which, along with their death in Scotland – actually looking more like they’ve been eaten alive going by the constituency vote – would provide the reason to roll Corbyn and get back those comfortable old days of … growing irrelevance.

      I’m glad that Scottish Labour’s died a death in Scotland. I’m glad Plaid Cymru have gained ground in Wales. And I’m glad, in spite of the best efforts of a few within UK Labour, that Corbyn’s Labour haven’t been trashed in England and seem to more or less have held on to the massive gains made at the last local body elections.

      All in all, I’d take it as a positive endorsement of more progressive politics with the Greens also gaining in England. Only black spot is UKIP also gaining in England, but I’d suspect Labour to take that disenfranchised vote in the coming years.

      • whateva next? 5.2.1

        Even though it’s an FFP system, MMP in action?

      • Puddleglum 5.2.2

        Hi Bill,

        As you say, the 2012 local body elections represented exceptional gains (some 823 gains of councillors in England, Scotland and Wales by UK Labour; Conservatives lost 405 and Lib Dems 336 seats).

        This time, from the Guardian site, in English councils UK Labour nett loss of 1.8% of seats up for vote (17/956); Conservatives nett loss of 4.1% (23/558).

        Holding the 2012 gains after the 2015 general election loss (though Labour’s overall UK vote % actually went up – despite the thrashing in Scotland!) is no mean feat.

  5. Tiger Mountain 6

    a bit early to blame Jeremy Corbyn personally for the UKIP effect on a handful of Labour councillors so far, but surely if Mr Khan wins the Super Mayoralty that would be some endorsement for Corbyn given that Sadik Khan was one of the 34 Labour MPs that helped get Corbyn included in the leaders ballot

    • Yep, the London mayoralty is important, not just because a progressive will be better for London than the conservative alternative. UK general elections are won and lost on the votes of people who live in London and the wider commuter belt. If Labour under Corbyn can run London, they can run the country. Sadly, they won’t have the opportunity for another 4 years.

  6. Glenn 7

    Jeremy Corbyn is not, so far, facing losses on the scale some had predicted in English local elections, with Labour retaining key councils.

    But the party could finish third in Scotland amid a Tory revival, with the SNP heading for overall victory.

    The Lib Dems have gained ground in Scotland – and UKIP is having a good night in English local polls and is hoping to gain seats in Wales.

    The London Mayoral result will not be declared until late Friday.

  7. lurgee 8

    Looks like a good night for Labour after the Forecasts of Doom that were been bruited about. 48 hours ago, saying Labour’s net losses would be in single figures (thus far) would have been dismissed as fanciful madness.

    Of course, Scotland is a disaster but Scottish Labour is very much its own beast and the last thing that would improve the situation north of the border would be some more Blairism.

  8. lurgee 9

    Interestingly, Labour are actually JUST ahead of the Tories in vote share – 22.6% to 22%. So stories about them being beaten back into third place are (deliberately?) presenting only part of the information. Yes, I know it is seats that matter. Yes, I know it is a disgrace that I’m having to scrat around for stale crumbs of comfort like that. But always look beyond the propaganda lines at the top of the page.

    • lurgee 9.1

      Ignore. I was looking at the constituency figures. The regional figures were more favourable to the Tories. Overall, they were the second party in vote share and seats.

    • Steve Withers 9.2

      Excellent advice.

      Headline writers with an agenda (of any kind) often seek to frame the outcome before the actual outcome is known.

      We’re mugs if we fall for it.

  9. Bill 10

    And most progressive legislation will be passed through Holyrood by the SNP (63 seats) working with the even more to the left Greens (6 seats) 🙂 Good shit!

    • adam 10.1

      I was thinking that.

      Also Labour in Wales will have Plaid Cymru to keep them left as well.

  10. James 11

    Looks like a bad night for Labour. I thought Corbyn was the great saviour of the left.

    Seems not.

    Worst result in a century in Scotland.
    The first opposition since 1985 to lose English council seats.

    Yet – Im sure people on here will be able to find positives from this.

    • Whateva next? 11.1

      Yep, Cameron has managed to alienate Scotland after 400 years of unity, nice work Dave, whataguy

  11. Henry Filth 12

    Local elections provide commentary on the national government of the day, leavened by a swag of local issues.

    How did the Conservative Party do?

    Massive losses? Massive gains? Massive apathy?

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      CONS mildly gained except in Wales where UKIP gained a few.

      LAB mildly lost seats throughout. And are now relegated to third place in the philosophical home of the Labour Party, Scotland.

      • te reo putake 12.1.1

        Cite? I always thought the Fabian Society, founded in London, was the philosophical home of Labour.

        • Colonial Viper

          The Fabian Society was formed a century after the Scottish Enlightenment.

          • te reo putake

            The Scottish Enlightenment is not the philosophical home of the UK Labour Party, not least because of the century or so that came between the end of the former and the birth of the latter. Still, if you want to mount an argument that it was, I’d be pleased to read it. You might surprise me.

      • Puddleglum 12.1.2

        CONS mildly gained except in Wales where UKIP gained a few

        In England and Wales and London (Assembly and Mayoralty) the Conservatives lost ground.

  12. Steve Withers 13

    Labour can’t really blame Corbyn for election results in Scotland. At best, previous Labour leaders (Looking at you, Mr B-Liar) could be blamed for laying the foundations for the a decade of rapid SNP growth.

    Elsewhere……if Labour shows any growth at all it will have improved on the work of Labour leaders since B-Liar to recover from the damage the neo-liberal fellow-travellers within Labour did to the party and its fortunes.

  13. whateva next? 14

    Last comment on the issue of Corbyn’s leadership and attempts to undermine from within/without. A very intelligent piece in the Guardian:

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