Friday 2 May 2008

Making Sense of the Results

Some - but certainly not all (the London Mayoral race; local elections in Rugby and Bassetlaw - will see their votes counted during today) - of the local election results are now in. By common agreement these have been bad for Labour. As I write, Labour has lost 163 councillors, wheras the Tories have gained 146. In terms of Councils changing hands Labour has lost 6 while the Tories have gained 8. Some observers have claimed it has been Labour's worst defeat since the 1960s.

Gordon Brown is reported to have admitted that the results have been 'bad' and disappointing'. But what is the real significance?

National feelings do influence local election results - much more so than in a larger, and federal, country like the United States. Some excellent councillors were blown away - not because voters disapproved of their work, but as I heard so many times on the doorstep - "it's nothing personal - but I want to make it clear to Gordon Brown that I'm not happy..."

Is the result terminal? No - just look at election results in the 1980s and early 1990s for the Tories - they were decimated in local elections - only to come back and win at a General Election.

The significance of the elections are that they show voters are unhappy at the moment - how Gordon Brown and the Labour Party respond is the question to ask.