In the run up to the local elections I pestered all of my friends and family to vote. I cast my vote in Leeds which remained a Labour hold overall. My home town also remained an overall Labour hold. And yet when the news reporters discuss Leeds and Lincolnshire, they jump straight to smearing the left with any losses they can grasp.
Once all 248 councils were declared, the final result showed the Tories at a loss of 1,335 seats, Labour a loss of 86 seats, UKIP a loss of 145 seats, the Liberal Democrats up 704 seats and Independent parties up 862 seats. With the Government facing the worst result imaginable, you would expect more than one angry Welsh man shouting at Theresa May to resign. But it seems the BBC is more obsessed with Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity and making sure we are aware it was both parties who were punished at the polls. It is undeniable that Labour failed to advance on fragile Tory ground, and that the party should have made advances, but is a protest vote for Independents really comparable to our current Government being five times worse off?
Corporate Media pulling the wool again
It only gets better from there. An article written just yesterday for the Telegraph stated that the local elections could actually be a blessing for the Conservatives… who are they trying to fool? The only blessing that could come from the local elections for the Tories is the drop in support for UKIP, and the wake up call that May might finally accept. A Sky News analyst seriously claimed that Labour’s loss of seats is actually worse than the Conservatives, despite it being their worst recorded loss since Blair and Major.
Bring out your Young
Turnout was estimated to be low before voting had even begun, with a disillusionment for the process and parties. Lincoln’s turnout was shocking at 29.29%. Aside from disinterested voters, feeling as though they no longer have a reason to vote, there was a shared notion amongst the public that local elections just weren’t that important. The misunderstanding that local matters are trumped by national ones is down to a failure to engage the public, tracing back to the negligence to educate the young in school. The Scottish referendum attempted to overcome youth engagement by gifting 16 and 17 year olds the vote in 2014, who showed up to the polls at a staggering 75%.
The local elections indirectly echoed the attitude of the European referendum through delivering the publics anti-establishment stance directly to the Government. Sir Vince Cable praised voters as his parties performance was the best in over a decade. Labour’s next steps must be bold if they are to win over protest voters. They are the opposition of a Government who have granted political asylum to a party still opposing same-sex marriage laws, who have suffered substantial losses locally, and who have had to beg for a Brexit extension. All of which has left the country’s biggest problems unresolved.
Moving forward, Jeremy Corbyn must remind the party of their socialist principles and accept the democratic decision this country made – whether we all wanted it or not. If Labour fail to do this, the far right will punish them not only in the upcoming European elections, but in the next general election and ultimately leave Parliament hanging in the balance.