Posts Tagged ‘local elections 2013’

Labour’s performance last Thursday simply wasn’t good enough

06/05/2013, 02:09:32 PM

by David Talbot

Amid the breathless, endless, commentary on the rise of UKIP, scant attention has been levelled at the only other serious contender for 10 Downing Street come May 2015. Whilst Conservative losses, and substantive ones at that, were long-foreseen they did of course have the furthest to fall, having swept the previous cycle in 2009. The true test was for the much-heralded one nation Labour. Heavy caveats were potted throughout the media by Labour personnel in the days leading to polling day; these elections are taking place in rural, affluent Tory-dwelling shires, eighty percent of the counties holding elections are represented by a Conservative MP, and control of four Councils and two hundred net gains is the target. Well, in their heart of hearts Labour’s strategists will know that last Thursday was not the triumph needed.

Despite matey assurances to the contrary, last Thursday’s results do not readily translate into the sixty seat Labour majority the party is seemingly on the cusp of securing. Although Labour picked itself up off the floor following the dark nadir of 2009, final national voting projections put the party on a mere twenty-nine percent – which is, ironically, exactly the polling figure Labour slumped to in the annihilation of the 2010 general election. That this appears to not be causing considerable alarm amongst the party faithful is troubling, and to say it is not enough for an opposition in mid-term should be so obvious as to be insulting to highlight.

There is no disguising Labour’s underwhelming performance. Despite sporadic advances in battleground seats such as Hastings, Crawley and Stevenage the results do not suggest that Labour will outright win the next general election. Gaining a mere two councils in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, only just, represents a worryingly poor return. Many party activists, somewhat rightly and understandably, are so consumed by the immediacies of their locale that they have swapped the instant gratification of publicising the fruits of their labour for any nuanced analysis of Labour at large. That the party now enjoys a sixty-two seat majority in Durham is indeed joyous, but that it failed to win in Staffordshire or Lancashire, and is still represented in the low single digits in vast swathes of the south, should temper that cheerfulness somewhat.


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UKIP’s barbarians have smashed through the castle gates

03/05/2013, 01:47:23 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Amid the whirl of results from South Shields and the English counties, we learned two important things about how the government (Conservative bit) will now approach the next election.

The first is that the Downing Street communications grid is back in operation. The underperforming political machine has been fine-tuned and a new focus has clearly been brought to bear.

Too late to have had the desired effect in the local elections, but we have nevertheless seen a carefully crafted slew of announcements this week, weaponised to help sharpen up the Conservatives’ brand. On Monday it was a crackdown on prisoners’ perks. On Tuesday it was talk of reducing immigrants’ access to public services. On Wednesday, aid cuts to South Africa.

This improvement in the Tories’ political operation and the themes they have chosen to concentrate on is a direct response to this week’s second notable development; they are now terrified about the damage UKIP can now do to them on their right flank.

Once breezily dismissed by David Cameron as a collection of ‘fruitcakes loonies and closet racists’, UKIP has now moved from an existential to actual threat, eating up traditional Tory support and splitting the centre-right vote elsewhere. Many Tories didn’t think this day would actually come, but it is clear UKIP’s barbarians have at last smashed through the castle gates.

Today’s result does not feel like a sudden spike. It’s more like the atrophying of our political system where room is now being opened for new players to capitalise on voters’ unease around issues the mainstream parties simply refuse to engage with.


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Good results for Labour but the UKIP surge augurs ill for Ed

03/05/2013, 09:59:45 AM

by Atul Hatwal

This morning Ed Miliband will be luxuriating in the breathing space afforded by the local election results. After a torrid couple of weeks where the Westminster narrative has palpably shifted against him, yesterday’s gains will disrupt the flow of negative stories, temporarily at least.

Not only is Labour on track to do well but UKIP – the new ball of wool for the media kitten – has performed sufficiently strongly to occupy days’ more column inches of reflection and dissection.

The Labour leader deserves his moment of respite. Winning lots of new councillors will revitalise local constituency parties up and down the country and help rebuild a Labour campaign machine that rusted and fell apart over thirteen years in power.

But Ed Miliband should be under no illusions: as good as Labour’s results are likely to be when all the results are declared, they will accentuate  the irreconcilable conflict at the heart of his political positioning and no number of smiling photo opportunities with new Labour councillors can avert Labour’s strategic dilemma.

On one side of Ed Miliband is the public. Contrary to the self-affirming assertions within Labour’s online echo chamber of activists and wannabe MPs that the centre ground of British politics is moving left, yesterday’s elections demonstrate something very different.

Whatever is said about UKIP, one thing is clear: disillusioned voters using it as a vehicle for protest are not headed left. There are plenty of left wing options for the type of nihilistic anger harnessed by UKIP but the voters didn’t pick any of them. It wasn’t the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition that surged yesterday.


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