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Six ways the local election results hit Westminster, from hope for Boris Johnson to the return of coalitions

Six ways the local election results hit Westminster, from hope for Boris Johnson to the return of coalitions


Local election results may have been overshadowed by coronation weekend, but that hasn’t stopped them from making their mark in Westminster, with party leaders scrambling to set the narrative after the Tories lost more than 1,000 council seats and that Labor became the largest local government party.

As the dust settles on what will likely be the penultimate mayoral ballot until the general election, here are six ways they had an impact.

Rishi Sunak’s honeymoon is over

The Conservatives’ performance turned out to be even worse than the party itself had predicted as part of tight expectations management in the run-up to May 4. The Conservatives lost 1,063 seats and control of 48 councils. While it was always going to be difficult for a ruling party to do well amid a cost of living crisis and after 13 years in power, the results have left a huge dent in Rishi Sunaks’ attempts to stabilize the conservative ship after months of party. turmoil. The Prime Minister’s first six months in office had gone relatively well and he had scored major successes on Windsor’s post-Brexit framework and NHS pay deal, but the results raised concerns among some MPs Conservatives that Mr Sunak will lead them to some defeat in 2024 or 2025.

Suspended parliaments and coalitions are back

When Labor was 30 points clear of the Tories under Liz Truss last fall, it looked like a 1997-style landslide was on the cards for Keir Starmer in the upcoming general election. Now that the lead in the polls has halved, a Conservative electoral wipeout seems less likely. Although local elections a year or more before a general election are not reliable predictors, the May 4 results suggest the UK could be on track for a hung parliament. A BBC national projection based on local election results puts Labor at 35% of the vote, the Conservatives at 26% and the Liberal Democrats at 20%. Although this would result in a nine point Labor lead at the next general election, it is a small majority and, given that the result is highly dependent on what happens to the SNP in Scotland, has fueled discussions over a parliament without a majority.

Conditions are similar to those in the months leading up to the 2010 elections: voters were unhappy with a government that had been in power for 13 years but was not overwhelmingly shifting support to the main opposition party. In 2010 the Conservatives were the largest party but had failed to achieve a majority and formed a coalition with the Lib Dems. Ed Daveys’ party did very well last week, winning 12 councils and 407 councillors. Sir Keir has driven coalition speculation with the Lib Dems by refusing to rule one out when asked in interviews aired this week. Mr. Sunak picked up on this equivocation in PMQs on Wednesday, and it can be expected to be a recurring theme leading into Election Day.

Voter ID is here to stay

For the first time, May 4 voters needed photo ID before receiving their ballot, under new laws designed to crack down on fraud. Opponents of the rules say that since voter fraud is so rare, the impact on people without a passport, driver’s license or other ID is disproportionate. After the polls closed, the Electoral Commission sadly said some people were unable to vote and its own research had shown the requirement had posed a greater challenge to certain groups in society. The organization must assess the impact of the new rules over the next few weeks before a final opinion can be taken on how the policy has worked in practice and what can be learned for future elections. But there have been no major problems with voter identification, and Labor has not pledged to repeal the law although it has yet to commit to overturning Tory legislation. So it’s very likely that despite criticism and some teething problems, voter ID is here to stay.

Starmer has work to do if he’s not going to finish more Kinnock than Blair

After Labor’s successful performance last week, Sir Keir said his party was now on course to secure a majority at the next general election. Although, as noted above, a hung parliament seems highly possible, it was the first time the Labor leader had predicted he would be the next prime minister. Labor is in a strong position now that it is the largest party in local government. But three-time election winner Tony Blair warned against complacency and urged Sir Keir, in an interview with Bloomberg, to set a political platform that offered a modern agenda and optimism. The BBC’s projection of Labor at 35% was the same as last year, with the Conservatives falling back on the national vote share. This highlights Sir Keir’s problem that voters are not yet flocking to Labor in large numbers.

Housing is an issue politicians can’t afford to be wrong about

One of the policies that hurt the Conservatives in local elections was housing. The lack of affordable housing for young people has fueled voter concerns that the government is out of touch with large sections of the population. But on the other side of the argument, voters in rural seats have punished the Conservatives for pushing housing targets in areas where residents are unhappy with overdevelopment. In Medway, the Tories lost control of the council to Labour, and local Tory MP Kelly Tolhurst blamed unrealistic housing targets which had forced the local authority to build a really large number of houses.

The Tories lost Windsor and Maidenhead to the Lib Dems after the council came under fire for trying to impose housing targets on the area. Although the leader of the council changed course weeks before election day, it was not enough to prevent defeat.

Boris Johnson is once again touted as an election winner

In the hours following the results, Boris Johnson supporters were the most vocal in the Conservative Party over who was to blame for the Tory losses. The Conservative Democratic Organization (CDO), the grassroots group set up by supporters of the former prime minister, said Mr Sunak should take responsibility for the parties’ poor performance. Tory MPs allied to Mr Johnson also expressed their displeasure and a former Cabinet minister said I there should be a dialogue about replacing Mr Sunak with the former prime minister, whom they have described as a vote winner. For the moment, this group is in the minority and most Conservative MPs want the party to unite around Mr. Sunak. But the outburst showed Mr Johnson will continue to be touted as an election winner. The CDO is holding its first conference this weekend, where the ex-PM is likely to be spoken to, and whether he escapes suspension or serious censure as the Privileges Committee probes to find out s misled Parliament over Partygate, expect him to stage a comeback to escalate.




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