Daily Bulletin


The Conversation

  • Written by The Conversation
imageThere was a local election? 'Kerim Okten/EPA', CC BY-NC

You’d not have known it from the media coverage, but the national election on May 7 was not the only contest playing out in the UK. Almost all English district and unitary councils – 279 of 293 – held elections too, and there were also votes for six mayors, for many parish and town councils, plus the odd local referendum.

There were no council elections in London, Scotland or Wales, but English voters – many doubtless to their surprise – were confronted by up to five ballot papers. Those in Bedford, for example, had votes for an MP, a mayor, two borough councillors, up to 11 parish councillors, and a referendum on their Police and Crime Commissioner’s proposal to increase council tax – the first ever of its kind.

The predictions

These multiple ballots offered electors the obvious opportunity for split-voting: one for their MP or national government, and another more personal, local or protest vote.

The chief beneficiaries of any split-voting were expected to be minor parties and independents in the council elections. But, as the nearly complete results table shows, that was another prediction largely confounded in these elections.

imageThe results.Author provided

Local government’s four-year electoral cycle means that the baseline with which to compare these elections was 2011, when most of the actual council seats up this year were last won and lost.

Since then, the opinion poll ratings of both Labour and the Conservatives have dropped. The Conservatives, though, were thought likely to be the bigger losers, having done well in 2011 and therefore defending far more seats than Labour, and having also been more damaged by UKIP’s dramatic rise.

But just as predictions for the national election proved wide of the mark, so did those for the 9,500 local contests.

The results

The Conservatives were the unambiguous winners of these local elections and Labour not just the net, but absolute, loser. The Lib Dems suffered as painfully as they did nationally. The junior coalition partners were predicted to lose around 50 seats but ended up ceding more than seven times that number. UKIP made progress, but less than it hoped, and the Greens flatlined.

The Conservatives won overall control of more than 30 councils – mostly, it should be noted, councils without a single party majority before the vote. Those gains rightly got the headlines, but two of the party’s most satisfying results will be its retained and slightly strengthened control in Solihull and Trafford – the only two of the 36 big metropolitan councils it currently holds.

Other now Conservative controlled unitary councils include Basingstoke & Deane, Poole, and Bath & North East Somerset, where there are now two Greens, but 14 fewer Lib Dems and a first-time Conservative majority.

Shire district councils won included traditionally independent Babergh, Suffolk, also for the first time; Amber Valley, Gravesham, and North Warwickshire straight from Labour; Hinckley & Bosworth from the Lib Dems; Gloucester, St Albans, Scarborough, Winchester, and Worcester.

Further Labour losses included Walsall metropolitan borough and the unitaries Plymouth and Stoke-on-Trent – all now left with no single majority party.

Even defeated parties must find consolation somewhere, and Labour’s will include hanging on to a knife-edge majority in Bradford, thanks to independent candidates, UKIP and Respect all losing seats, and gaining majorities in unitary Stockton-on-Tees, and, after a suspended recount and overnight rest, Cheshire West & Chester.

Labour is also now the largest party on Brighton & Hove – which in 2011 had become the first council to be run by the Greens.

As in the national election, the Greens’ recent membership surge didn’t really translate into hard results, though they will be encouraged by seven gains in Labour-dominated Bristol, bringing them within touching distance of official opposition.

In this year’s local elections, UKIP was the history maker. Party leader Nigel Farage had failed to become Thanet South’s MP, but his party reduced Labour councillors from 24 to four and won overall control of Thanet district – its first principal council.

The mayors

Good Lib Dem news was at a premium all weekend, but enough of Bedford’s conscientious voters backed Dave Hodgson to re-elect him comfortably for a third term as the borough’s mayor.

In other mayoral votes, Peter Soulsby was re-elected for Labour in Leicester, Gordon Oliver for the Conservatives in Torbay, and Mansfield’s three-term Independent Tony Egginton was succeeded by his Mansfield Independent Forum colleague, Kate Allsop.

Another Independent, Mike Starkie, was elected as the first mayor of Copeland in Cumbria, while in Middlesbrough three-term Independent Ray Mallon has retired and is replaced by Labour’s Dave Budd – though only after a second preference count and the rejection of large numbers of spoilt ballots, presumably from the many Labour members who, despite the result, want the mayoral system abolished.

In these mayoral elections at least, then, there was something for almost everyone: Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem, and Independent.

Chris Game does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

Authors: The Conversation

Read more http://theconversation.com/the-forgotten-local-elections-conservatives-defy-predictions-in-council-votes-too-41627

Writers Wanted

'I don’t want realism. I want magic': behind the fantasy fueling our real estate voyeurism

arrow_forward

Australian farmers are adapting well to climate change, but there's work ahead

arrow_forward

Schooling in lockdown isn't home schooling – but we can learn from the real thing

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister Scott Morrison's interview with Ray Hadley, 2GB

RAY HADLEY: Prime Minister, good morning to you.   PRIME MINISTER: G’day, Ray.   HADLEY: Gee, you’ve had a week.   PRIME MINISTER: Well, there's been a lot of weeks like this. This time last...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Ray Hadley's interview with Scott Morrison

RAY HADLEY: I'm going to go straight to the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison is on the line right now. Prime Minister, good morning to you.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Ray.   HADLEY: Just d...

Ray Hadley - avatar Ray Hadley

Defence and Veterans suicide Royal Commission

Today the Government has formally established a Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide following approval by the Governor-General.   Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Royal Commi...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

9 Smart Hacks for Your First Day at Work

No matter how much work experience you have, the first day with a new company can be very stressful. Even the biggest professionals find the change of location and work collective a little frighte...

Chloe Taylor - avatar Chloe Taylor

Record year of growth for Tweed based business The Electrical Co

While many businesses struggled to stay afloat during the COVID-19 affected 2021 financial year, Tweed Heads based The Electrical Co. completed more than 50,000 smart meter installations across Aust...

a contributor - avatar a contributor

The Most Common Reasons why Employees End Up Leaving a Company

It is important for businesses to make sure they find the right people for their open positions. That is why a lot of companies are relying on professional outplacement services. A lot of companie...

NewsServices.com - avatar NewsServices.com