What the council elections mean for #ge2017

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May 6, 2017 by Paul Goldsmith

Tom Newton Dunn, Political Editor of The Sun, reported on Thursday that a Senior Tory had told him that he would “Sh*t in my hands and clap” if his party won the Tees Valley Mayoral Race in the North East of England. Yesterday, Newton Dunn suggested that we all stand back. 

Not only had the Tories taken Tees Valley, it had won the West Midlands Mayoral race (through former John Lewis boss Andy Street) in another region that Labour normally dominates. It had also won a load of council seats off all the other parties, almost unheard of two years into Government. Political parties normally say in General Election campaigns that we’ll know the real situation on polling day. Well, unusually we have just had a polling day right in the middle of the election campaign, and the results above are grim reading for Labour and UKIP.

If Labour want, they can point to the vote share being far closer to the polls for the general election. But in reality it lost one in four of the seats it was trying to defend, including the former rock-solid citadels of Glasgow and Merthyr Tydfil. Yes, Steve Rotheram won the Liverpool mayoralty and Andy Burnham the Manchester one, but both were basically unopposed in those elections. Burnham decided not to even turn up at the Labour victory party, at which Jeremy Corbyn spoke. 

More interesting was what happened to UKIP. They received 5% of the vote, which was 18% down on the equivalent contests in 2013. It lost all 114 seats it held and gained one seat eventually. It appears that UKIP voters have gone back to the Conservatives. If this is so, it is the end of a political odyssey that has seen them changed Britain and change the Conservative Party. More on that soon,.

Meanwhile, the Lib Dems won 18% of the vote, which was a higher vote share but actually meant they lost seats. What this means for their General Election campaign is unclear. They are campaigning as the party of Remain and little else, and that makes little difference in council elections but might do on June 8th.

In Scotland, the SNP’s support started to loosen and there was a higher vote share for the stories, which could be a sign of things to come. There was also a seat for the Rubbish Party, founded by Sally Conley in East Ayrshire to focus on issues of waste and littering. 

Overall, turnout was low, at 36%, and all of the mayoral races bar one had turnout of less than 30%, so it may be difficult to read a lot into the results. But as they stand they make grim reading for everyone but Theresa May.

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