Saturday, May 06, 2006

Council Elections: Bad But Not Disastrous

Labour’s losses in the local elections are greater than I expected but fell short of “meltdown”. In the Guardian on Thursday Patrick Wintour et al rated potential losses as follows: 200 (“doing better than 2 years ago”), 300 (“almost as bad as 2004”), 400 (“bad but recoverable”), 550 (“wipeout”). Well, on this scale the result was bad but not completely disastrous. The LSE’s Tony Travers is quoted in this morning’s Times as saying that the result is “a good, old-fashioned bad result for a party in power rather than a complete meltdown”. The result would, of course, have been much worse if Labour had not also done badly in 2004. This time Labour lost 319 councillors and control of 18 councils; the Conservatives gained 316 councillors and 11 councils. Labour did especially badly in the south. Conservatives gains included Bexley, Croydon, Ealing, and Hammersmith and Fulham. Labour also lost overall control of 14 councils including Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Bury, and Warrington. Manchester remains a Tory-free zone (long may it be so!). David Cameron has done well enough for the moment; gains of fewer than 200 and he would have been in trouble. The Liberal-Democrats gained 2 councillors and 1 council: no progress at all really. This is probably due to a combination of the “Cameron factor” and the uninspiring leadership of Ming the Monotonous.


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