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?