Looking ahead to 2015, the polls say (and the bookies agree) the next general election is likely to be a Labour victory.
The results in so far from the local English council elections support that (full results won’t be out til later today): despite a low turnout (estimated at 36%) Labour has maintained or gained control in 27 local councils (up 2 – there were 161 local authority elections yesterday) and won 617 council seats (up by 101). Including – as I found out via Twitter – David Cameron’s favourite Tory council Hammersmith & Fulham.
The Conservatives have lost control in 8 councils (they’ve kept control in 27) and are down 99 council seats. The Liberal Democrats have lost control in one council (kept control in two) and are down 93 council seats. None of this looks good for their general election prospects.
The Green Party have four seats so far, up by one.
None of this, however, is the headlining news.
The headline news is the disappointing but not surprising word that in another election with a low turnout, UKIP have 87 seats – a gain of 86. There are no councils so far declared where UKIP has the majority, and let’s hope there won’t be.
Despite Labour’s success at the polls, the news report is of intra-party recriminations that they didn’t do as well as they’d hoped.
The BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson said:
“[But it] is worth remembering that once every vote is counted UKIP will not run a single council, they will still have far fewer councillors than their rivals, they will not, of course, have an MP but – in the words of one Labour council leader – they will have caused mayhem.”
And no small part of that mayhem will have been caused by the mainstream media’s promoting Ukip as if it were the fourth national political party – when it has still not a single MP or MSP, and we know – because we’ve seen it all before – that many of the Ukip councillors who are elected will certainly end up embarrassing Nigel Farage with their homophobic and racist comments, because that’s the kind of person Ukip attracts.
The Green Party is – obviously – England and Wales’ fourth national political party, and seem to be doing fairly well despite the general media focus on the mayhem of Ukip: final results and overall share of the vote will be interesting.
We won’t find out about the European Election results on Sunday, but I hope and trust that David Coburn will be going home to Kensington.
Labour 23 (maybe 24): UKIP 22 (maybe 25): Conservative 17: SNP 3: Greens 2: and no Liberal Democrats or Plaid Cymru at all. (Also, cheerfully, they think it likely the BNP will lose both seats.)
For Scotland in particular they predict: SNP 3, Labour 2, Conservatives 1.
Update, now all 34 English councils holding elections yesterday have declared: it still looks like a surge for Labour, and for the Greens.