From the Field: The morning after the night before
As the dust starts to settle on another set of elections, we wanted to bring you up to date on the results and what’s been learnt so far.
The consensus that the main parties have fought out a political stalemate was reinforced by the lack of councils changing hands, more on this shortly, so arguably the winners on the night has been the Liberal Democrats. As Emma predicted on Tuesday, the gains in Richmond and Kingston as well as holding Sutton show an impressive performance for a party who has had political life blown back into it by the referendum it opposed for so long. New Richmond Leader, Gareth Roberts declaration that “the campaign has been as much about bin collections and council budget cuts as it has been about Brexit” looks like a very poetic interpretation on the results in South West London.
For Labour, who put in its best performance in many boroughs since the early 80s, the results seem somewhat underwhelmed given the expectation that London was soon to be a blanket of red. Its failure to dampen expectation, ahead of the results, in part being played up its own “Progress” wing of the party, made its actual result look disappointing. They are not. The air war has started, especially as Heidi Alexander MP gives up Westminster for City Hall this evening and said the “Progress” wing meets tomorrow for its annual conference in Central London. The party’s achievements shouldn’t be underplayed and it still has a huge grip on the future direction of the capital. The realpolitik of governing now gets underway with Labour Groups meeting for their AGMs (starting this weekend); we will get a clearer idea on the leadership and ideological direction of the biggest party in the capital - expect the trade unions to enter stage left.
Finally a word on the Conservatives, an equally impressive performance, especially from a party in Government, their steadfast approach in Wandsworth, Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea left little ability for Labour to make an impact. The gains of councillors in Havering and Harrow and the gaining of Barnet Council will all feel like a success. But even the most fanatic true blue would have to admit that the latter had to as much to do with the inability of the Labour leadership to condemn the problems of anti-Semitism within the party. The Conservatives live to fight another day in London, and when that day comes in 2022 the hope will be that politics will have returned to a more conventional feel, although it might be wishful thinking.
These results have the hallmarks of a classic TV boxset, a dull episode 9 as we head to the cliff hanger, Brexit, in 10 months’ time.
To view the results announced so far please click here.