Friday, 2 May 2008

25% and all that

Now that the smoke is clearing from yesterday's hostilities, and assuming that the remaining skirmishes tell the same story, it is clear that the Conservatives are the big gainers in England, and that Liberal Democrats have done best in Wales.

Both here and in England LibDems are now the second party. Much was made by the BBC people of the fall in the overall percentage of the Liberal Democrat vote. What they failed to pick up was that local elections seem to have fallen into the same pattern of tactical voting as national ones - where LibDems have been in control, or are the most likely to assume control, then voters have gone LibDem; otherwise, voters have been ruthless in selecting another party (so long as it's not Labour).

I would also expect the fact of being the second party to make an impact on future results, so that the LibDem share will probably go up again (at the expense of Labour) as the news sinks in to the consciousness of the electorate.

Plaid must be disappointed at their showing, which is surely linked to their being in coalition with Labour in Cardiff Bay. Perhaps if the three-party alliance had gone ahead last year, freezing Labour out of Welsh government, they might have done rather better at local level.

Labour may justifiably blame their fall on the economic misjudgements of the national leader. The doubling of the lowest income tax rate undoubtedly played a big part in causing defections from Labour, especially in Wales where more people proportionately fall into the category of losers. However, voters also saw the other faults of New Labour nationally - their taking the electorate for granted, their concentration on the centre to the detriment of local communities, the addiction to PR gesture rather than action - reflected in the party's behaviour locally.

If Labour does not renew itself, nor remember its traditional values, it will continue to fall.

6 comments:

Ian said...

Frank,
What justification are you basing your theory that you did best in Wales and are now the second party of Local Government?
You have fewer Councillors than the other main parties, you made fewer gains than Plaid or the Tories and even your proportion of gains was less than Plaid or the Tories. You have no overall control of any Councils, so with respect, you din't and you are not.

I think that do did quite well and better than your party in England but that's about it. As far as Plaid are concerned, we did poorly in Gwynedd and Swansea but nationally, won more Councillors than ever before and are clearly second only to Labour in numbers of Councillors. It's actually our best ever result so I am disappointed-well no.

Frank H Little said...

I lazily believed a BBC graphic which showed our percentage of the vote as second overall. Apologies if your data are more accurate than the BBC's.

We may not have achieved majority status on any council yet, but I see our representation in Wrexham went up. Congrats to Plaid, too, on winning four wards from Labour there. Apart from Bridgend, our position on LibDem-led councils in Wales is at least no weaker than before the elections.

Ian said...

In fairness, I think that you did quite well. I like the fact that there are 4 rather than 3 parties to choose from in Wales and also that the BNP are still without County Councillors. There are very interesting times for Welsh democracy.

Neil Welton said...

Hello Frank. My first visit to your blog. After our chit chat on the Peter Black blog, I just had to take a peek!

One thing is certain, these results all point to a credible victory for the Conservatives at that General Election.

Now that will be very interesting - especially for Wales.

Frank H Little said...

these results all point to a credible victory for the Conservatives
I have to agree that they would at least be the largest party in the UK if there were a general election next week. Opinion research can be manipulated, but actual votes in actual ballot boxes don't lie.

I can't see them achieving the same eminence in Wales as they had before 1964, though.

Neil Welton said...

True. However, I was thinking in terms of devolution and having a Conservative Government in the United Kingdom Parliament which will be politically different and philosophically at odds with the administrations in Scotland and Wales. I wonder how that will play out.