This week it is Yorkshire’s turn in our series continues on the impact of the local elections on the political parties in different regions.
There were no elections in Doncaster, Rotherham or Harrogate. The following unitary authorities had all their seats contested:
- East Riding
Hull and North East Lincolnshire had a third of their seats contested.
These metropolitan boroughs had a third of the seats up for election:
North Lincolnshire had all its seats contested.
For district councils, the following had all their seats up for election:
Craven had a third of its seats contested.
I’m afraid there was pretty uniform gloom for the Conservatives in Yorkshire. In York, the Conservatives went down from 12 to two. Scarborough saw the loss of seven seats. In Selby, the Conservatives lost five. Richmondshire and Craven were lost to no overall control.
The only bright spot came in the “Humber” bit of the region. The Conservatives gained North East Lincolnshire, a particular achievement given that only a third of seats were being contested. This was a council which had previously been Labour-run, but propped up by the Lib Dems. Philip Jackson wrote about it for us last year. So the Lib Dems will have been tarnished by that. But also, this is strong Brexit territory, so that was a factor. Martin Vickers, the Conservative MP for Cleethorpes, is a Brexiteer, which will have eased the backlash a bit. Grimsby has a Labour MP, Melanie Onn, who backed Remain. Although she opposes a second referendum, that is clearly not enough for her to keep all the Labour Leavers on board. It is the first time that the Conservatives have North East Lincolnshire since that local authority was formed.
Selby saw the Conservatives lose seats to the (pro Brexit) Yorkshire Party. There was an anti fracking message which may have been a factor. Those (like myself) who are supporters of fracking do have to work harder to win popular support for it.
York was high spot for the Lib Dems. They gained nine seats and will now run the Council in coalition with the Green Party.
There is a paradox that in some places, anger from Brexiteers helped the Lib Dems. This is a simple matter of the available alternatives. Where independents stood, they tended to do very well. But in some places, Labour and Conservative supporters abstained, allowing the Lib Dems to snatch some extra seats.
There was an important symbolic victory for Labour in gaining control of Calderdale. This gives Labour control of every metropolitan borough in Yorkshire. Labour was already running the council as a minority administration. It was very much at the top of their targets. However, elsewhere they made losses.
Wakefield saw Labour lose three seats. Steve Tulley, despite being one of the Labour councillors that was actually re-elected, declared in reference to Yvette Cooper:
“There has been some wonderful candidates who’ve lost tonight. And it’s all because of the MP for Pontefract, Normanton and Castleford, who wouldn’t know what democracy was if it scratched her in the eyeballs. This district voted to leave the EU, and the way she has carried on has caused this council problems. It’s time them down in Westminster started to taking a bit of notice to what the people have said. It’s their antics that have cost us tonight.”
Labour was wiped out on East Riding of Yorkshire Council. The Party lost all its six seats.
The straight-talking people of Yorkshire would seem to be pretty impatient with the delays and obfuscations over Brexit. The similarly straight talking people of North Lincolnshire even more so. In some parts of the country, I’ve found that the the obvious explanation that anger over Brexit was to blame for Labour and Conservative losses was not the whole story. But in Yorkshire and Humber, it really does seem to be the overwhelming explanation.