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Thursday, May 26, 2022
HomeLatest NewsWhat happened in the UK local elections and why it matters for...

What happened in the UK local elections and why it matters for Boris Johnson’s future

In general, the local elections have everything. While part of its purpose is to give voice to different points of view in different areas, each year has its own reading. In 2018, Labor and the Conservatives were left in a stalemate that dragged on after the 2017 general election. In 2019, the two main parties were hit by voter confusion. And in 2021, the conservatives swept it all aside. The 2022 local elections were the voters’ first major award for Keir Starmer.

In the vote count as of Friday evening, the Conservatives lost 344 councillors, Labor 224, the Liberal Democrats 157 and the Greens 82.

Labor victories in “Tori” places

Labor’s results were most impressive in London, where few would have imagined they would win the City of Westminster, other than the more predictable victories of Barnet and Wandsworth. The impact was heightened because all London councils were up for election and a large number of seats rotated. In the rest of the country, many local councils elect a third of their representatives in each election, so change has been more limited.

The good result achieved by the Conservatives in 2021 will continue to be felt in these councils until their councilors run again in 2024. However, there were strange surprises such as the victory of Labor in Southampton or the victory of the Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems) in Hull.

But these partial elections also serve to compare the yearly evolution of party results. With the exception of London, the evolution of the Labor vote in England since May 2021 has been between 6% and 7%. three and four points. This is Labour’s second-biggest lead since 2012, when Ed Miliband had the best run.

strategic voting

Labor’s lead in 2022 may be larger than what seems to be a small difference in percentages of the vote. Among other reasons, because the right is now much more united under the leadership of the Conservative Party, rather than being fragmented by Ukip, the Brexit party that skewed the 2014 and 2016 local elections. The Conservatives no longer have that reserve army of voters.

The centre-left is divided into Labor, Liberal Democrats and Greens. This is an obstacle to gaining a comfortable lead in the popular vote as well as seats in local elections, but for Labour, it means having a strategic anti-Conservative voter pool to capitalize on.

little change in the north

Another positive sign for Labor is that, at first glance, votes appear where they are most useful. The distribution of the Labor vote in the 2019 general election was highly inefficient. In this distribution, in order for Labor to obtain a minimum majority in the House of Commons, they would have to win the popular vote in the same proportion as in 1997.

However, a slight change in the north may be enough, given that many of the former sites of the “red wall” [los distritos de voto tradicionalmente laborista] are still hotly debated. Fared better in contested locations to the south and east, such as Ipswich and Southampton Itchen, and parts of the Midlands had their highest turnover since 2011.

Last year, Labor came close to being knocked out of Dudley when they won just three constituencies to 21 Conservatives. But they are left with 12 Dudley counties in 2022, including two that were conservative in 2018. Dudley has four traditionally hotly contested seats that secured an overwhelming Conservative majority in the 2019 general election. If they get back in the game, a parliamentary majority seems more likely. The party will also be consoled by a good result in Scotland (as planned), where it also needs parliamentary gains.

Message to Boris Johnson

For Labor, the worst results have tended to be concentrated in areas where the party is part of a municipality, and voters have turned their backs on local issues. But there was not a single beneficiary of these losses. In Tameside, the Conservatives took advantage of them; in Hull, the Liberal Democrats; on South Tyneside, greenery; and in scattered areas of the metropolitan north, independent and local parties.

These are serious enough losses to deprive Labor of a truly satisfactory gain in seats. But they cannot jeopardize many of Labor’s seats in Parliament, as they have come to places where the party already rules and deal with local rather than national issues.

The Conservatives would be very unwise if they decided to ignore the seemingly small advantage gained by Labor. They should also ponder another fact: in Wandsworth, Barnet and Southampton, places where voters knew they could send a strong signal, didn’t think twice and gave Labor a strong boost. A very accurate hit towards Downing Street.

Translated by Francisco de Zarate


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