While the results of local elections do not directly transfer to the same results in a general election, the fact that the campaigns for next month’s election are already in full swing, means that there is a certain amount we can take from last week’s results.
Politicians of both sides have attempted to play down the scale of their success in last Thursday’s elections, but the more one looks at the results, the more significant their implications for the general election are.
The Conservatives can celebrate striking victories in regions which would previously have never considered voting blue. The Tees Valley mayoral race would usually seem to be as much of a guaranteed win for Labour as Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester. But in these unpredictable times, it seems there is no such thing as a ‘safe seat’ for the party.
The Tories’ success can in part be put down to the collapse of the Ukip vote – the party won just one seat, and lost all of the 145 it was defending – with many of their voters choosing to now back the Conservatives. While Ukip has always struggled to gain seats in parliament, its 13% share of the national vote in 2015 is a significant slice of the electoral pie. At the last general election, Ukip came second in 120 constituencies in 2015, so there is a considerable reward for the Conservatives if this trend plays out in June.
But Labour will also be underwhelmed with their results last week, despite resounding wins in Liverpool and Manchester’s mayoral elections. In the past, the official opposition would be expected to be making serious progress in local elections - in the last equivalent round of local elections in 2013, Labour, under the much-derided Ed Miliband, managed to secure an increase in the number of Labour-controlled councils and Labour councillors.
This time around however, Labour maintained control of only two councils and lost out on the Tees Valley and West Midlands mayors - both traditionally safe Labour regions.
The Liberal Democrats appear to have had a mixed set of results. The party increased its vote share by 4%, 2% more than predicted in the polls, but lost seats overall. The party had been hoping for a boost in the south west, in particular.
This article is an extract taken from Freshwater’s local election results briefing.
Keep an eye on our website and @fwpublicaffairs as we post more analysis of the Metro Mayor, the local election results and the general election to follow.
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