Sunday, June 07, 2009

UK Labour gutted at local elections

In the UK, there are local elections virtually every year, although they are for different parts and levels of local government. This year it was for counties and unitary authorities in England, which are equivalent to regional councils in the NZ context. Most counties were up for grabs, and in most it was for all seats. London was not included.

Given the scandal over Parliamentary expenses, and the slow response of Gordon Brown, it was always going to hurt Labour - but few could have known the scale of the defeat.

34 councils were up for grabs. Labour lost control of all of the three councils it held, including Staffordshire, Lancashire and Derbyshire, all counties of the north - Labour's former heartland. The Conservatives picked up control of ten councils, including some previously run by the Liberal Democrats.

In terms of councillors, the results were even more devastating for Labour. Labour lost 291 councillors, out of a previous 469, losing more than half of its seats. The Conservatives picked up 244 seats, now holding 1531. The Liberal Democrats lost a couple by comparison. The Greens did well, particularly in Norfolk picking up five seats from Labour. The racist BNP picked up three seats, less than many expected. However, more surprisingly the anti-EU UK Independence Party picked up 7 council seats.

So Labour has been absolutely gutted, it came third in share of party vote, behind Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. Admittedly, one needs to be careful about that on a national scale - because it is ONLY England, and without London and some other parts of the country it is a distortion.

What was Gordon Brown's response? To reshuffle his Cabinet, but he wanted to replace Alastair Darling, but got rolled. He appointed Sir Alan Sugar - yes the TV star property developer - to be an advisor on small business. Sir Peter Mandelson, a peer, is now effectively deputy Prime Minister. So Brown now is putting people in positions of responsibility who are unelected, he is "taking action" on Parliamentary expenses - though of course, he wouldn't have done so had the Daily Telegraph not outed the issue in the first place. He says he will move on constitutional reform - whatever that means - and to reform public services to put patients and parents first in the health and education systems.

In other words, he is trying to be the man for ideas - but he is running a government on life support. Ministers have resigned, and most recently an MP, he had taken Labour to a stunning third place defeat in the local elections. Brown now has his last chance, but it is not over yet.

Tonight the European election results come through, if, as some predict, Labour could come fourth - then surely Brown cannot last. If Labour gets beaten by UKIP - which doesn't even sit in the House of Commons, then you must wonder what future it has.

The scale of Labour's likely defeat could be as groundbreaking as the change in the early 20th century that saw Labour beat the Liberal party as a major party in the UK.



I've just been watching the Euro results.
Another third place for Labour, this time behind UKIP.
And the BNP getting two seats as well.
Oh what fun!
I am enjoying the prolonged death of Brown and his government.
The longer he staggers on to the next election, the more likely Brown will come third in that as well.

Sus said...

*Sir* Peter Mandelson?! When did that happen?

I thought he'd gone for good. He was NI Secretary and Tony Blair's first casualty as I recall, resigning his position due to a personal scandal, yes?


Libertyscott said...

Sus, oops Lord Mandelson I mean.

He's in the House of Lords, as are 4 members of the Cabinet - it's new Labour's new approach to democracy - unelected Ministers.