Saturday, 5 May 2012

May 2012 Local Election Results: a view from the Right

by William Wallace

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Mid-term Tory blues

Let’s get one thing straight. This was never going to be a good night for the Conservative Party. Despite what Ed Miliband might have you think, the results do not show that people have restored trust in Labour. The results in fact show that the British public is not satisfied with the Coalition’s progress to date. So, no Ed, Labour isn’t back – but if things don’t improve soon, they will be. If we cast our minds back to 1999, we’ll recall that Labour lost over a thousand seats in local government and the Conservatives gained over a thousand. That was 1999 – inflation was low and the economy was booming. Considering that we are still grappling with the deepest budget deficit since the post-war decline, these election results come as no surprise whatsoever. As we all know, in 2001 Labour was elected to serve a second term – so last night’s results should not be regarded as a prediction for the next general election. So to those who didn’t greet me this morning with the conventional ‘hello’, but instead yapped ‘Looks like the Tories are on the way out’: you’re wrong.

The Budget, pasty tax, fuel crisis, cash-for-access scandal, BSkyB & Jeremy Hunt: they’ve all made the headlines and have played into Labour’s hands. Despite all this, we Conservatives were leading Labour by a substantial margin earlier this year. It wasn’t until recent weeks of gaffe after gaffe since late March that allowed the tables to turn. Council elections are always seen as a test of public confidence in the government. Sure, that confidence might have slipped, but it really could have been a whole lot worse. Remember the 2010 midterm elections in the US? The Democrats got a right thrashing from the Republicans – yet Obama is leading Romney in the opinion polls. So the solution to the midterm blues on this side of the pond? David Cameron needs to pull in the reigns on the Coalition and present its policy to be in the national interest – which, in the long term, it is.

 We lost all our councils in Wales and Labour even picked up Southampton and others in the South, but we Conservatives have had at least some good news. Boris Johnson has been re-elected Mayor of London. The closeness of the result has been very, very tense. My heartbeat was scarily audible during the declaration, as there were fears that Ken would pull it off. Nonetheless Boris has been returned to City Hall, perhaps by a whisker, but at least he has kept Red Ken out of office. There will be many who argue that Cameron should follow Boris’ example of “core Tory values” – but I don’t believe the Conservatives should swerve off to the right, yet Boris’ fervent belief in tax cuts and deregulation makes him a gem within the party. Ken noted in his concession speech that the result may confirm who will win the next Conservative Party leadership election – and I have a sneaky feeling that Ken just got something right, for once!

For a more left wing view Tim McBain has written a View from the Left:

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