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  • Keep your view in proportion. Elsewhere on this site this morning is a full list of the results.  The vast bulk of it shows No Change – in a diverse and complex series of council seats, very many of them in Labour-leaning metropolitan areas: some all-out; some electing in halves; some in thirds; plus a few unitaries, plus some Mayorals.  That’s a reminder to keep these results in perspective.  Local election results are a poor predictor of future general elections. None the less, here are some snapshots.
  • Brexitland shrugs at Labour. It has taken Plymouth. But that’s the sole council gained for Labour so far. Elsewhere, it has lost control of Nuneaton & Bedworth, and Derby.  As we write, there appears to be a small swing against the party outside London, coming through in the provincial suburban England which voted to leave the EU.  Trafford, where it deprived the Tories of their majority, contains Remain country.
  • Anti-semitism damages the party in London. Its failure to win Barnet is evidence enough of that. But Labour’s disappointing performance in the capital – it seems to have gained only a small swing on the equivalent results four years ago – suggests that suspicion of it has spread wider than Jewish voters. A swathe of urban, liberal voters now view Labour as a Nasty Party.
  • Has Corbyn’s bubble burst? “If we don’t win Barnet, I’ll wear a Trump hat,” Matt Zarb-Cousin tweeted. We hope it fits him. The net gain of 32 seats so far is a paltry return for Momentum’s mass campaigning – and, interestingly, it did not hold one of its “Unseat” campaigns in the only council Labour won: Plymouth.  Expect Labour moderates now to start targeting Corbyn again.
  • An improved night for the Liberal Democrats. They smashed through in Richmond-Upon-Thames, delivering their best result there since 1986.  Elsewhere, in Toryland, they held on to Sutton, Eastleigh and Cheltenham.  Meanwhile, in Labour country, they have made progress in Sunderland and are strong in Hull.  Sure, it’s progress from a lowish base – but they are the biggest net seat gainers as we write.
  • The near-obliteration of UKIP.  They’re the biggest net losers – down 92 seats at present.  There’s the odd kick against the pricks – for example, the party ousted Labour’s leader in Derby.  But one of the main features of the election has been the flow of former UKIP votes elsewhere.  The early signs are that the Conservatives have been the main gainers.
  • Brexitland winks at the Tories.  Basildon and Peterborough have been wrested from No Overall Control. And Labour has been deprived of its majority in Derby and Nuneaton & Bedworth.  All those are in Brexitland.  Throughout the western world, hard-pressed lower income voters have moved right.  These results suggest nothing to the contrary (outside Plymouth).
  • The Conservative local record counted in London.  The capital isn’t one amorphous mass: a suburban council like Hillingdon is very different from an inner city one like Westminster.  But the Westminster/Wandsworth Tory holds are impossible to explain without looking at local factors – and local campaigning too.
  • A promising start for Brandon Lewis.  Which brings us to the new Party Chairman.  He arrived in post amdist the Great Conservative Panic about students and Momentum.  These results will bring relief.  He will be able to say, at least for the moment, that the Conservatives have made net gains.  Now is his chance to build on party membership and campaigning successes, and sort the Party’s digital operation.

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  • The Party can make progress in a new natural heartland – the mass of midlands, Yorkshire and northern marginals that plumped for Brexit…  On this site, James Frayne has constantly emphasised the centrality of these voters to the Conservatives’ future – and is absolutely right.
  • …While also holding Labour at bay in London.  Theresa May, or whoever succeeds her, won’t have the advantage of good local councils as a centrepiece in (we hope) 2022.  But a moral of these elections is that Corbyn and Labour are vulnerable to the charge of extremism. That be built on.
  • A big lesson of these elections is: keep the faith on Brexit – and the discontent with the status quo that it stands for. The Prime Minister will do otherwise if she uses the space these results are giving her to have another push at the customs partnership.

89 comments for: These Brexit-shaped elections

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