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This is a quick follow-up on my previous diary from a week ago, providing an overview of the results of the local elections that took place in Britain on Thursday. The headline results were that Labour gained 823 seats, the Conservative lost 405 seats, but held on in the London Mayoral race, and the Liberal Democrats lost 336 seats. I'll go through the respective results for London, the rest of England, Wales and Scotland, explaining the winners and losers in each "set" of elections.

In London, as I predicted last week, Conservative Boris Johnson won a very narrow victory over the Labour challenger Ken Livingstone, by 1,054,811 votes to 992,273, or by 51.5% to 48.5%. Meanwhile elections to the London Assembly, a weak elected body, with some powers of oversight over the Mayor's office, saw Labour make major gains, now holding 12 seats of 25, up from 8 when these seats were last contested. However, the Conservatives manged to cling onto 9 seats, providing them with the third of seats necessary to stop the rest of the Assembly amending the Mayor's budget.

WINNERS: the Conservatives, but Labour's gains on the assembly and the close result in the mayoral election, with a weak candidate, suggests a positive future for Labour in the British capital.

LOSERS: the Liberal Democrats and the far-right parties. The Liberal Democrats came in fourth in the Mayoral election, behind the Green Party, while the far-right, surprisingly, ended up without any seats on the Assembly.

In the rest of England Labour saw big gains, gaining 534 seats, while the Conservative lost 326 seats, and the Liberal Democrats lost 190. The Liberal Democrats vote actually remained about stable with last years local elections. The problem is that with many councils in England electing a third of their councils every three years, they still have another round of heavy losses to look forward to next May. The Conservative vote, on the other hand, slumped in a way that it didn't do in 2011. In 2011, against expectations, they actually made small gains, with their vote holding up at around 38%. This year they fell to 31%, a worrying sign for them, and a signal that the public's discontent about the British economy is increasingly becoming focused on the Conservatives' (supported by the Lib Dems) austerity policies.


LOSERS: Conservatives and Lib Dems

In Wales the government's losses were limited, principally due to the fact that they had very few seats to defend there. Still the Lib Dems lost about half the seats they were defending, while the Conservatives lost about a third. The few seats at Westminster that the Conservatives and Lib Dems hold in Wales seem very likely to swing back to their historic Labour voting patterns in the next elections to Parliament.


LOSERS: Conservatives and Lib Dems

In Scotland, much like Wales, the Lib Dems lost around a half of their seats, while the Conservatives managed to restrict their losses to around 20%. The big story out of Scotland was the failure of the Nationalist SNP to make major inroads in the Labour vote, with Labour, against predictions, gaining seats. The SNP gained seats, and remain the largest party in Scotland, narrowly ahead of Labour. But they completely failed to take control of Glasgow city council, something they spent a significant chunk of their resources on, and something they had been talking up in the media prior to the election. While the SNP are popular, they have not managed to dislodge Labour in Scotland's urban population centers.

WINNERS: no clear winners, but both Labour and the SNP gained seats and control of a couple of councils each.

LOSERS: Conservatives and Lib Dems.

Overall, a good night for Labour, an average night for the SNP, a bad night for the Conservatives, and a meltdown for the Lib Dems.

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Comment Preferences

  •  thanks for this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG, ParkRanger

    so the conservatives won a few key things, but mostly lost?

    If you're gonna die, die with your boots on. If you're gonna try, well stick around. Gonna cry? Just move along. The truth of all predictions is always in your hands. - Iron Maiden

    by Cedwyn on Sat May 05, 2012 at 06:37:29 AM PDT

    •  The only key thing that they won (8+ / 0-)

      was the London Mayor race, which was a unique situation with a Conservative incumbent willing to deviate from his party's line, and a weak Labour challenger. In my opinion, the major message was clear shift against them in elections to the London Assembly and throughout the rest of the country. The fact that we have elections in many areas every year makes voting trends clear, and the trend appears to be very much against the Conservatives.

      •  What are the demographics in London now? I was (0+ / 0-)

        more there in the '80s, where there seemed to be significantly large Pakistani/Indian populations in areas. If it's like U.S. minorities would be more likely to incline towards liberal (small l) candidates.

        •  many minorities are not inclined towards "liberal" (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tom wedge, Englishlefty

          candidates in the US, they're inclined towards more left-wing candidates.  In the UK and Europe there's a more distinctive difference between liberal and left.

          Lewis & Clark Law class of 2015

          by James Allen on Sat May 05, 2012 at 02:23:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  London is still very mixed- it's got the richest (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Englishlefty, TofG

            and poorest neighborhoods in Britain. It is significantly more non-white than much of the rest of the country, and non-whites do vote overwhelming Labour. But then so do lower-class whites- the Conservatives do far worse with poorer whites than the GOP do in the US.

            •  in the US (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              in every county in the country Democrats do better with the poorest 20% and the Republicans better with the richest 20%.  Whether we're talking NM with poor Hispanics and Native Americans, Mississippi with poor blacks, or West Virginia with poor whites.

              Lewis & Clark Law class of 2015

              by James Allen on Sat May 05, 2012 at 02:48:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yeah sure. But consider the widespread poverty in (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Englishlefty, WisJohn, TofG

                states such as Mississippi or West Virginia, those kind of places over here, particularly WV, would be solidly Labour. Whereas in the US social conservative and race issues lead poor white communities to vote for the GOP, against their own economic interests. Whereas wealthy states in the North East US vote for the Democrats, the party which redistributes money from their states to the South, through government programs, such as Medicaid. It's strange from a British political perspective.

                •  WV is solid Democratic, below the presidential (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  level.  That's as white and poor as it gets.  In Mississippi, most of the poor people are black, so the comparison doesn't hold up as well.

                  Lewis & Clark Law class of 2015

                  by James Allen on Sat May 05, 2012 at 03:40:02 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The presidential level at the moment, but the (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Englishlefty, TofG

                    Democrats in offices lower down, like Tomblin and Manchin, are way to the right of their counterparts in richer states like say Vermont or Connecticut, whereas blue collar former mining areas in Britain are solidly left of rich liberal communities. The average white in Mississippian is poorer than one in Vermont- the voting on race lines doesn't match up with economic interests- it is in the vast majority of the former Solid South's interests to keep voting Democrat at all level- and left-wing ones at that. The GOP going after entitlements hurts the 50% of Americans below the poverty level who are white- the GOP's class war hits minorities proportionally more, but because there are so many whites the pain will fall on numerically more white Americans than African Americans or Hispanics.

                    •  Vermont is hardly rich nt (0+ / 0-)

                      The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges. ~ Anatole France

                      by ActivistGuy on Sun May 06, 2012 at 01:35:30 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  The average wage there is about a third higher (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        than Mississippi... The point was about a general correlation between richer states and more liberal politics.


                        James Allen mentioned above, completely rightly, minorities are more likely to vote Democrat, and there is a similar voting correlation in Britain, But American working class whites, on average, vote in a very different way to how they vote in Britain, and probably the rest of Europe. This is likely is due in Britain to class identity, and the link of the working class to socialist/ Labour party politics. The general belief that Obama will lose white non-college men, and that this is in line with how Democrats have done with that demographic group in recent years, is something which I struggle to understand- it's so utterly irrational for that group to vote GOP.

  •  Could Oona King have defeated Boris? Or is he just (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cedwyn, JKTownsend

    too popular to be beaten?

    •  Good question. I've been thinking for a few weeks (6+ / 0-)

      that if King had been the Labour candidate she would have won by something like 55% to 45%. She really isn't dislikable, and could have boosted turnout from ethnic minority communities. Livingstone under performed in relation to Labour's vote for the Assembly- I expect King would have over performed it. Boris was definitely beatable- he just got lucky with his opponent.

    •  Why (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      did Labour decide to preselect Ken Livingstone again? I understand he was popular back during his first term as London mayor, but he alienated just about everyone towards the end of his tenure as mayor.

      I mean there were high ranking people in Labour who weren't exactly thrilled about Livingstone running again...

      Obama/Biden 2012: Keep America moving forward not backwards.

      by ehstronghold on Sat May 05, 2012 at 08:52:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  He was/is popular with the Labour party members (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TofG, Darth Jeff

        who voted in the Labour candidate selection process. Very few people get involved in internal selection processes for political parties in Britain, at any level, and are often the most radical members of their parties. Ken won 2/3rds of the votes during the selection process. I can't find the actual figures anywhere, but that could be 50,000 people or fewer saying that they wanted him as the Labour candidate, while London has a electorate of around 8 million, of which just over 2 million voted in the Mayor election on Thursday.

    •  He might be beatable (0+ / 0-)

      But Oona King was a weak candidate. Ken has many flaws, some quite serious, but he knows how to campaign (or at least did before this year). I'm not convinced King does.

      •  I wonder how important the ability to campaign is (0+ / 0-)

        in such as media-driven political environment. Ken started off the campaign deeply unpopular, and then suffered a barrage of attacks from the rightwing print media. I don't think either of those things would have been applicable to King- her race for one would make the press more hesitant about going after her. I think Ken's vote ceiling was always going to be under 50% (after 2nd preferences), and I believe that King could have got that extra 1.5%. One data point I noticed was that there were large numbers of Jewish voters who voted Labour for the Assembly and Boris for mayor- I expect King would have held onto their votes, and with them gained the Mayoralty. But then this is all somewhat pointlessly hypothetical. Looking forwards, Ken said he won't stand again, and I expect whoever the Labour candidate is in 2016 will win. Boris probably won't run again and even if he did the Conservative brand will be even more toxic than it is currently.

  •  Thanks for posting this. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quill, TofG, gabjoh

    One odd little fact from this election keeps bouncing in my mind. That the Tory candidate came in seventh in Liverpool's mayoral race. Would that US voters treated conservatives just so.

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Sat May 05, 2012 at 07:32:11 AM PDT

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