I’m incredibly late with this but I still want an excuse to put these results onto a table so here’s a short blog. The local elections in England have since been massively overshadowed by the European Election results, but they can still give an insight into public mood at present. The results were as follows:
[PNS = Projected National share]
As only a portion of councils are up for election (or a third of the council in some cases), these elections only elected 20.7% of councillors in the UK. The overall composition is now:
Conservative: 8,300 seats (40.4%)
Labour: 7,147 seats (34.6%)
Lib Dem: 2,257 seats (11.0%)
UKIP: 370 seats (1.8%)
Green: 170 seats (0.8%)
Others: 2321 seats (11.3%)
Essentially, another standard victory for opposition parties at the expense of governing parties, like you normally see in local elections. Of all opposition parties Labour have made the most gains, winning far more councils and councillors than the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. However, the projected national share (a figure which suggests what the result would be were the election held nationally – if you know how it’s calculated I’d love to know!) will be a cause for concern for Labour. With the general election less than a year away, they should be doing much better than 2% ahead of the Conservatives if they want to win an outright majority. You can’t, of course, read too much into these voting figures, since in local elections people vote for entirely different reasons – or not at all – but it’s important in terms of morale. These aren’t great results for the Conservatives but I imagine they can live with them, achieving a close second in PNS. As ever, the Liberal Democrats have taken the greatest brunt of the anti-government vote, losing almost half their councillors in the wards up for election. Yet the beleaguered party has managed to hold on to six of their eight councils, suggesting that in its strongholds, which may prove crucial next year, the party is holding onto support. A good night for UKIP, of course, boosting their councillor count by 8,150% – a staggering figure. But I continue to argue that UKIP’s result needs to be seen in context; their PNS is only 17%, down from around 23% last year, and they continue to suffer from the First Past the Post electoral system used in local elections. Given UKIP achieved 27% in the European election held on the same day, this could indicate the party still lacks credibility on important local issues. Finally, the Greens have managed to build on their previous result for something like the tenth year running, but continues to grow at a painfully slow pace.
Local elections are not the best barometer for how the country may vote next year, not least because of the unrepresentative sample they represent (in a close election the Scottish and Welsh vote could very possibly swing it in favour of Labour), but I think it does show how tight the next election could be. The two major parties only achieved 60% between them, only slightly below where the parties combined polling figures currently lie. That’s plenty of space for parties like UKIP, the Greens and what’s left of the Liberal Democrats to fill. The most likely outcome remains another hung parliament.