Friday morning's take: disastrous for Labour, good for the Conservatives, complicated for the SNPby Peter Kellner / May 6, 2016 / Leave a comment
Normally, local and regional elections produce big changes which the losing party tries to play down. Scotland apart, the overnight results from this year’s contests have produced less dramatic shifts than normal, and may well dominate the news agenda for a shorter time than normal, especially if talk of a challenge to Jeremy Corbyn dies down for the time being.
However, if we dig below the surface, some telling points emerge. Here are some provisional observations with more results still to come, especially from London—we await various results from the city including those for its Mayoral race.
In England, the Conservatives have done well for a governing party after six years in power, but not quite as well as they hoped. They have suffered a three per cent swing to Labour since the equivalent local elections last year, on the same day as the general election. They hoped for a smaller swing, but their vote has held up far better than governing parties in the past.
In contrast, Labour has done badly, albeit not as catastrophically as it feared. It looks like ending up with a net loss of fewer than 50 council seats, not the widely-expected 150. Nevertheless, though Labour has done slightly better than last year, the BBC estimates that its average vote share is four per cent down on 2012. This is bad for a party hoping to regain power nationally at the next general election. Unless today’s counts give Labour clear net gains, this will be the first time for more than 30 years than an opposition party has lost ground in council elections. Likewise, yesterday’s two parliamentary by-elections, in Ogmore and Sheffield, produced the expected Labour holds, but no surge in the party’s support. By any standard other than the pre-election predictions, yesterday was disastrous for Labour.