UK Local Elections 2019.
Last Thursday, the UK held elections for 248 English councils, six mayors and all 11 councils in Northern Ireland, around 30 million people in the UK were able to vote. These elections primarily took place in a lot of rural England, which tends to be a Conservative stronghold, so they had the most to lose. Labour was hoping to capitalise on the Brexit mess by the Tories and gain some seats, as were the smaller parties such as the Lib Dems, Greens and UKIP.
The people of the UK made their feelings about the nation’s two main parties well and truly clear. These elections have highlighted a shift in British politics, which is only the beginning.
Tories and Labour punished over Brexit
As we can see, the Conservatives have lost a staggering amount of councillors, in an unsurprisingly catastrophic night for them. We saw this coming as they had been slipping down in the polls and the mess of Brexit will haunt them for a long time. The Tories may finally realise that they’re in quite a big deal of electoral trouble and we could see them change tact on Brexit, if not they face serious problems at the upcoming EU elections and the next GE, which could be sooner than we know.
Labour’s confused stance on Brexit has clearly not done them much good either, it appears their remain-supporting votes have mostly moved to other parties and their attempt to commit to Brexit has not really netted them any new votes, so they came out pretty badly. They had less to lose in this election because they started with fewer seats and they’re in opposition, however, to lose what they have against a government who is in electoral shambles should be a big warning sign to the Labour leadership.
Lib Dems and Greens steal the day
It was the alternative options who benefited from the failings of the two main parties on Thursday’s elections. The Green Party and the Liberal Democrats had some of their best ever results in a local election, gaining almost an extra 1000 councillors between them. On top of that, the Lib Dems took control of an extra 10 councils. In the North, areas including Sunderland saw a swell of votes for the Greens and UKIP which means that they will be represented in the city council chamber for the first time. Before the results came in, 60 of the cities 75 wards were Labour. By Friday morning this was down by ten.
What do these results show?
These results were expected by many but not to such a great extent. A shift away from the usual parties has been hinted for some time now, yet last week’s election confirmed it. The mess of Brexit being manufactured by the Conservative and Labour leaderships, plus the accusations of racism within both parties have soured voters, causing them to turn to alternative parties. It now may be the time for the likes of the greens and Lib Dem’s to start seeing a rise in popularity, especially with those hoping to remain in the EU.
There is still a lot of support for the traditional left and right wings of British politics, yet who the British people vote for has changed drastically. For the first time since the coalition government, the Lib Dems had a noticeably successful day at the polls, which either spells out a rebirth of interest in the centre or they are the logical option for people who feel they cannot vote for either Labour or Conservative.
Whether the results from last week were an anomaly or the beginning of a genuine change to British politics remains to be seen. Yet what can be summarised is that a loss of power for both the Conservatives and Labour is a very real possibility and that both parties need to fix their image before the next General Election if they intend to remain the two most popular political groups in the UK.
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