Tuesday, 8 May 2012
Labour do well.
Young Ed has a spring in his steps since last Thursday. Even the failure to win the mayoral contest in London is seen as Ken Livingston’s fault rather than that of the Labour party itself.
The percentage for each party based on all the seats contested was Labour 38% Conservative 31% LD 16% Others 15%. Not as big as some mid term swings in the past but enough to keep Ed’s critics in the party at bay for a while yet.
Clearly the result reflects the voters wish to punish the two parties of government than a positive vote for Labour.
But that said a wins a win. There is now a bonus for Labour’s election machine with the acquisition of so many new councillors. They’re the foot troops for future campaigns.
In Wales, Labour did particularly well. Their best results since 1996, regaining control of many of their former strongholds in the valleys. More than making up for the seats that they lost in 2008.
They gained control of half of the counties that were up for grabs. include Blaenau Gwent, came back to the Labour fold having spent sometime with independents arising out of the fallout over the party introducing an all women’s shortlist for parliament against the wishes of many in the area. Bridgend, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport and Swansea also saw Labour taking control.
But of course Cardiff was their biggest achievement. Many, including this commentator, expected them to be the biggest party but to win outright control having being the third party was certainly unexpected and a real achievement.
The Welsh Conservatives lost their majority in Monmouthshire and lost control of the Vale of Glamorgan, losing 61 seats overall. The Lib Dems lost 66 seats overall and their control of Cardiff, Swansea, Wrexham and Newport. Clearly, both were being punished by the electors for the actions of the Westminster government.
In mid term it is often the case that Westminster governments are punished in local elections so that explains the Liberal Democrat and Conservative losses.
But what of Plaid Cymru? Thursday, must be seen as a miserably failure for them too. In Scotland, the SNP as well as Labour gained at the expense of the other parties. But not so in Wales
Plaid Cymru even failed to gain overall control of Gwynedd, one of its heartland areas. And lost 41 seats overall. They lost control of their one valley authority, Caerphilly.
The party had flagged up in advance that these elections would prove difficult and that there should be no expectation that the election of a new leader would make a difference in these elections. But OK to gain ground might not be on the cards but to loose with a new leader, hmmm.
The new leader has been in post for six weeks and normally one would expect a honeymoon period with the voter. Indeed even some London papers have given Leanne Wood some sympathetic national coverage. Despite this it had nought affect on this election. Not a bit of it.
Much was made of her credentials as a politician from the Valleys in her campaign for the leadership of her party. These credentials have seemingly not had any resonance with the voters. Indeed they lost control of Caerphilly overwhelmingly to Labour.
The party needs to think seriously whether it’s going. There is not much sign that the punters out there are ready to embrace a party that’s to the left of Labour.
All in all the real winner last Thursday was the Apathy party. Two out every three voters couldn’t bring themselves to vote. This must be a cause of worry that so many see the democratic process as having no relevance to them. Despite times being hard turning ones back on the ballot box is certainly not the answer.