What actually happened in the 2018 Local London Elections?

Foundry Fox
Junior-editor
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Labour gained 77 councillors in the recent election with a current total of 2,350, progress, but slow. The Conservatives lost 33 seats with a current total of 1,332 councillors.

For the less politically savvy among us, it might be slightly confusing in the wake of the recent local elections to understand why Labour are being harangued despite clearly superior results.

Labour gained the most seats taking Plymouth and Kirklees away from the Tories, and ending an almost 15 year Conservative hold on Trafford, the only Tory council in Greater Manchester and the party’s stronghold in the North.

In London, Labour won 47% of the votes in London and continues to be the most dominant party within the capitol representing 21 out of the 32 boroughs, strengthening its hold on a string of London councils most notably Tower Hamlets, Redbridge, Hammersmith, and Fulham. All four directly elected borough mayors are now also Labour.

These results, although not groundbreaking, seem fine. Progress has been made despite some losses sustained, however, all in all, positive. Why then is Labour being harangued by both the opposition and supporters alike?

The Conservatives gained similar standard results, increasing the amount of London boroughs they have full control over to 7, surprisingly keeping control in Kensington and Chelsea and taking Redditch from Labour.

A reason to celebrate in an otherwise underwhelming election, Ukip lost nearly all of their 126 seats, with only 3 councillors elected. Good riddance.

The Liberal Democrats took many of the seats vacated by Ukip, picking up more than 50 seats, regaining control over Richmond and Kingston and South Cambridge from the Conservatives.

The Green Party also had a good night, gaining 8 more seats to take their total to 39.

So why was everyone so disappointed in Labour?

Despite successes, both opposition and supporters of Labour have voiced their criticism of the party this election.

Jeremy Corbyn had promised Labour London that he would seize control of Tory ‘crown jewels’ this election, meaning traditionally Conservative constituencies like Westminster, Wandsworth, and Barnet. He also had his sights on Kensington and Chelsea, Conservative since 1964 but angered by last years government handling of the Grenfell Tower fire.

It was also expected that the, frankly appalling way the Tory government has handled Brexit would also sway more votes Labours way.

Labour didn’t emulate their success at the 2017 snap elections and did little to upset the Conservatives.  

There is also no doubt that the ongoing anti-semitism row has undoubtedly affected Labours voters. They failed to take Barnet council from the Conservatives as a direct result of the scandal, say local activists and councillors.  

The current mood in London was not conducive to an easy victory and although no party (except the deserving Ukip), the results have emboldened the Conservatives and shown up Labours weaknesses. Labour must put on a united front if they are to win voters over and inspire them like in 2017.

So what happens now?

Chances are, however, that if you got yourself out there and voted last week, some might be wondering why they bothered?

Jeremy Corbyn has said of the results that ‘The Labour Party is now well placed to fight and win the next General Election – and form a government that will work for the many, not the few.’

According to the BBC, the local elections saw only a 36% turnout of voters, data based on an analysis of 800 key areas in London. There is clearly a huge disconnect between politics and the people at the moment.

The sense of euphoria that accompanied both Corbyn’s election as head of the party and the success of Labour at last years snap election was not present after the locals, nor was there much build up, no excitement. Local elections are always less exciting than generals but they do inform the results of the generals. A boring election with non-solid results leaving us all a bit flat.

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