‘Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.’
Although Sir Isaac Newton probably had more philosophical matters than local elections in mind, his famous quote seems incredibly apt when discussing this year’s vote. Results that display just how politics has changed and how confused the electorate is in 2018. At the time of writing, some results are still to come and it’s a fast-moving scene. Already, however, some distinctive trends can be observed.
Old-fashioned Conservative parts of the country – think Canterbury and Kensington – are now red. Traditional Labour strongholds – like Darlington – are now blue. What are the new trends? In short, the big cities are becoming progressively more Labour-supporting and the rest of the country seems to be Tory. In short, neither party is doing enough to win a General Election and we may well be in a similar position to where we were last year.
In my constituency of Barnet, Labour’s number one target Council, or as analyst Sir John Curtis described on BBC News ‘a plumb target for Labour’, moved from ‘no overall control’ to the Conservatives. This is a result that surely shows the passion of feeling about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party in an area where more than one in 10 people described themselves as Jewish in the last census. Well-respected Labour Councillors have lost their seats, the Jewish community will hope this sends a message to the top of the party that they need to more to confront this insidious problem.
The one thing that there will be no disagreement about is that UKIP is no more. A party that gained 166 councillors with 17% of the national vote four years ago have been all but wiped out. At the time of writing they have won just two seats. Their General Secretary, Paul Oakley, compared his party to the ‘Black Death’.
Explaining that they were set to return he said: ‘Think of the Black Death in the Middle Ages – it comes along, it causes disruption then it goes dormant… that’s what we’ll be doing. Our time isn’t finished!’ Quite apart from the questionable judgement in choosing this particular analogy, the conclusion – that UKIP will rise again to become a political force to be reckoned with – seems doubtful.
UKIP’s demise was not to any one party’s benefit as the votes they lost were spread quite evenly across the parties. Elsewhere, the Lib Dems made some gains and will be revitalised after taking hold of Richmond Council. Meanwhile, the Greens added a few seats but more or less maintained their position.
So after all the confusion we have… more confusion. We end the night more or less where we started it. There is no one big winner. The major parties stood their ground and the posturing has not led to change.
Perhaps you would have expected an opposition party to sweep the floor in this type of election with a floundering Government. Labour didn’t. Additionally, there was an expectation that the Momentum vote would get out in these elections and change British politics. They didn’t. But that could just be that local elections have never been that popular.
Either way, confusion continues to reign. At the end of the day, no party can claim overwhelming popular support. Now back to Brexit!
Aaron Bass is an Account Director at The PR Office.