Seven things we learned from Local Elections 2018 results

Jon Tonge is a Professor in the University of Liverpool’s Department of Politics

  1. None of the parties can be truly satisfied with the outcome – even if all -except UKIP, who are finished, avoided disaster. Increases in party vote shares were largely a consequence of the UKIP meltdown
  2. Labour’s gains nationally were not enough to suggest they are on course to form the next government. Net seat gains were approximately 125 below par and a 35% vote share too modest
  3. The Conservatives’ loss of Trafford was a big blow for the party, wiping the last blob of blue from the northern metropolitan election map. The size of the swings against the Conservatives in marginals was striking. The fear for the Conservatives is that, having lost the battle of the northern cities years ago, they are now losing the battle of the suburbs.
  4. Add London, increasingly, to the lost cities for the Conservatives. Labour controls most of the boroughs, wins a majority of votes and provides the mayor. Hailing the defence of Westminster and Wandsworth as major successes – when the Conservatives lost 66 councillors in the capital and recorded their worst performance since the mid-1980s- fools no-one.
  5. Labour’s much publicised anti-semitism issue caused some local difficulties – with underperformance in Barnet and the loss of seats in Kersal in Salford (the most Jewish ward in the country, at 40%) and Pilkington Park in Bury.
  6. A modest Liberal Democrat revival was evident after their near-death experiences at local and national elections in recent years. Here in Liverpool they began reclaiming seats lost in the grim coalition years. Yet their increase in vote share – to a respectable 16% – was less than the Conservatives and Labour enjoyed – so, relatively, ground was lost.
  7. Turnout was around average for a local election. Slightly more than one-in-three of us voted. At the next general election, slightly more than two-out-of-three will vote. So it’s foolish to extrapolate too much from one set of local elections. But where’s the fun in that? So, possibly years out, another hung parliament looks distinctly possible. So Thursday was a good night for the DUP then. And they didn’t even take part….


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