Friday, May 04, 2007

Blair wont be too upset

British local election results (which started coming in at 11.30pm!!) have been a mixed bag.
If this was meant to be a blow against Blair and the war in Iraq, it was not. Labour took a hit, but not an enormous one. The anti-war Liberal Democrats have done badly. The Blairite middle ground has shifted to the Tories, but Blair can resign feeling rather smug.
Headlines
Scottish voting turmoil, ballot counting disaster.
Labour loses Wales, just - but likely to govern with support from others.
Labour loses many councillors, but Tories gain not as much as hoped.
Liberal Democrats lose councillors, largely sidelined.
Scottish elections marred by technical problems with electronic voting, and substantial numbers of Scots not understanding the combination of STV and First Past the Post on ballot papers and spoiling them by mistake. Up to 100,000 spoilt ballots. Too complicated or poor communications? Labour, Lib Dems and minor parties have lost seats, SNP doubled number of seats. Greens and Scottish Socialist Party have lost seats (something to be grateful for!).
Welsh Assembly - 52 seats, Labour lost 3 to Plaid Cymru, so no longer has majority. More results to come, but Labour has lost 8.5% of the vote, with most of that going to Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives. Likely outcome, Labour will need to get agreement of either Lib Dems or Plaid Cymru to govern. Darker outcome, BNP nearly won a regional representation seat in the assembly one seat getting 9.4% of the regional vote in Wrexham.
English councils - Good wins for the Conservatives, but not as good as hoped. Still no councillors in Manchester or Liverpool City Councils, although some gains in neighbouring councils. 15 more councils move to Conservative majority control (from previous "no overall control") with 318 new Conservative councillors. Labour lost 5 councils and 163 councillors. Liberal Democrats must be concerned, gaining one council but losing 97 councillors.
English share of the vote:
Conservatives 41%
Labour 27%
Lib Dems 26%
Others 6%
Tories will be relieved, the gains are enough to celebrate, but not the overwhelming victory that was hoped for.
Labour will also be relieved, the losses of the Lib Dems mean Labour remains in second place. The anti-Blair media has been playing up a major defeat - this hasn't happened. There have been some substantial losses, but it is better than expected.
Liberal Democrats have lost a great deal, with the Tories winning as much from them as from Labour. The Liberal Democrats of course have lost their policies to the Tories, and now stand for nothing besides being against the war in Iraq, and more taxes. This election was clearly not a referendum on Iraq.
Greens have gained one seat, but overall result will be disappointing. Largely sidelined (and lost in Scotland).
BNP disappointed thankfully, but did gain a lot more votes in Wales.
UKIP has been virtually irrelevant.

In conclusion, while more results are coming in (too soon to make a call on Scotland), it was a general swing towards the Tories and away from Labour (and the Lib Dems). Natural this far into a government that has been in power for 10 years. Nothing too dramatic.

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