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Friday 11 June 2004

The backlash begins [lurks]

It's not entirely unexpected but nevertheless, the local election results are some pretty grim reading for the incumbent labour party. Labour lost 218 councillors and lost majority control of 7 councils nationwide while the Conservatives picked up 106 councillors and gained control of 6 councils.
I've been impressed by my local Lib Dems and it's heartening to see that they also have taken a big chunk of the losses from Labour, with 65 extra councillors although sadly they lost control over two councils. That said, my support of Lib Debs only extends as far as local government due to the shameful antics of Charles Kennedy during the Iraq war.
It's interesting, though, to see the losses Labour have sustained here. Virtually everyone is calling it as a backlash against our part in the invasion in Iraq, which is a good demonstration of democracy in action - or is it?
It does make me wonder, and not for the first time, if the British public actually understand what they were voting for yesterday. Booting your local Labour councillor out of the council for the national MP's sins... how much use is that really? Yes OK, it's sure as hell sent a large signal but I wonder how many people actually accessed the performance of their local council before deciding who to vote for?
I suspect very few.
Obviously the looming general election is the correct time to voice discontent with our government's role in the invasion of Iraq - and I think most would agree that whether or not you supported the invasion, the government has committed political suicide given its conduct in justifying the war to the people of Britain.
Election turnouts yesterday were up significantly and again I suspect it's because of this larger issue. My question is, do the people of Britain sufficiently understand the democratic process that they are making the best use of their vote?
Yes the Iraq invasion is a huge issue and potentially a government toppling issue but is this essentially swamping out the entire subject matter of which councils are the most efficient at fixing your roads, collecting your garbage and sweeping the streets?


  1. It might sound stupid but I'm convinced people don't equate local elections with local councils. They see a ballot sheet with all the names of the candidates and along side that the party logos. They choose the party logos they know/support/like the look of from the telly - y'know all those people jumping up and down in Parliament. Then write a letter/phone the council about the dog shit problem in their street.
    They don't politise the council, it's just the council, not the no-overall-control council of elected parties.
    Am I doing the pod punter in the street a disservice?

  2. I'll write something thoughtful in a bit; however, these elections did shine for me because the BNP lost 3 seats, taking them down to 2 nationwide.
    Triple hurrah thankyou very much

  3. You speak too soon: they've just got +4 in Bradford...

  4. So how about all these people voting UKIP in the London Mayoral/Assembly elections? Is that more or less nuts?
    Well actually it's clearly more nuts to be voting UKIP than voting Lib Dem/Lab/Con/Monster Raving Loony in ANY election, but you know what I mean.

  5. Ah, I speak too soon also! Peter Snow, he with the stats, says that overall the BNP is down 9% in its contested seats. W00t.
    Why are people voting for hard-left RESPECT though? George f-ing Galloway! Unbelievable.
    Voting UKIP in the Mayoral Elections is surely silly. It's Red Ken versus Jarvis Norris realistically. People act like its a General Election though init...

  6. They do and hence throw away their vote because they can't be bothered to actually learn what they're voting for. It's depressing.

  7. RESPECT would probably have done better without Galloway, but if someone wants to vote for a socialist party, what choice did they have? I know more than a few dissafected lefty ex-labour types who've gone Lib Dem because they're the most left-wing of the 'real' parties now that Labour have moved so far right, but people who want to vote for an actual socialist party basically have the choice of voting the not all that socialist but lefty in some regards Greens, or Galloway's lot.Of course things are a little different in the Euro elections 'cos Labour are part of the PES, which is rather more socialist than Labour are, but as the typical voter doesn't know anything about European politics and will vote on national policy, a lot of UK lefties will have not wanted to vote for them because of their entirely national policy on the Iraq war.
    Democracy. Nice theory, eh?

  8. Back to Lurks original point about the voting being a backlash against the UK involvement in Iraq. If this was the case why did they all vote Conservative? They backed the Government all the way, and if they were in power, wouldn't it have been the same action? Only the Lib Dems were against action in Iraq, and I'm presuming only because it could try and sweep up some anti-war votes, rather than any deep-seated beliefs.

  9. I'm not sure that's how the public works though. They want to punish the government. They want to vote with the other guy - possibly who they went for before they got duped, as they now might believe, by New Labour.
    Indeed, there is no party who made the right call over the issue. Lib Dems might have called it right but for all the wrong reasons as you alude.