The young did not turn out for Jeremy Corbyn in the numbers expected and Labour’s cocky confidence was premature.


In the local elections in UK this week there was no checkmate by either party, the result was more of a stalemate. The Conservatives did better than they feared and Labour did not achieve the Tory wipe-out they anticipated. The Liberal Democrats (LD) are back for an encore and UKIP, sans Nigel Farage, was basically booed off stage.

The Conservatives gained four councils and lost six; Labour gained two and lost three, the Liberal Democrats gained four from a zero base; four new councils had No Overall Control (NOC); and out of five previously NOC councils, three went to the Conservatives, one went to Labour and one to the LDs. What does this tell us? It says Thursday was not the “mayday” that Labour sought. It tells us that Brexiteer UKIP voters have come back to their original Conservative home; it reminds us of the democratic majority who are wanting and waiting to leave the European Union, as the Midlands and parts of Northern England have remained uncompromisingly Tory.

The young did not turn out for Jeremy Corbyn in the numbers expected and Labour’s cocky confidence was premature. Labour boasted it would take the London boroughs of Barnet and Wandsworth, but lost Barnet to the Tories by 35-25 seats. Barnet has a large Jewish community who clearly voted against the anti-Semitism prevalent in the Labour Party. In fact, liberal urban non-Jewish voters seem to have deserted Labour in solidarity, as Labour’s anticipated gains in the capital have been a disappointment. Both the important boroughs of Wandsworth and Westminster were held by the Conservatives.

In spite of the efforts of Momentum, Labour’s aggressive activist group, the trade unions and the campaigning drive by the current London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, Labour has not matched its ambition, but neither have the Conservatives “won”. There seems to be no winning enthusiasm for either party leader. The pressure is on Prime Minister Theresa May to get Brexit sorted in a deal acceptable to Brexiteers and Corbyn’s inconclusive gains will give the Labour moderates a new reason to challenge their party’s leader.

This was the first partisan test since the so called snap general election in 2017 but the above results are not necessarily indicators of a future general election. The results are snapshots of geographical and emotional sentiments, that if the government or indeed opposition parties are listening can be reacted to in preparation for the next general election. If one was writing a school report it would say the same to both the Prime Minister and to the Leader of the Opposition: “Could do better, will have to work harder to fulfil potential.”

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