Nothing much for anyone to cheer about

counting ballot box

Attempting to draw conclusions about the outcome of yesterday’s elections with little more than a third of the votes counted is a complete mug’s game, but that’s what media and political pundits have been forced to do through the night.  So, what of their observations and (hopefully informed) guesswork is worthy of our attention and what frankly just filling dead airtime?

The first and most obvious observation is that the Conservatives are in a very deep hole and it doesn’t matter what they say between now and the general election. 

Smug comments from the left that the Rwanda policy won’t stop the boats could be safely ignored if the public felt it would work, as the majority in fact support the aims of the policy … in theory.  Unfortunately for the Conservatives, however, the public stopped believing it would happen – or make a difference – some time ago.  This tanker is not for turning and the Conservatives are heading for defeat, whether it comes in the Summer, Autumn or even next January.

Second, Labour’s foregone election victory, while confirmed by these votes, will clearly not be of the 1997 – enthusiastic for positive change and a new dawn – variety. 

Labour will win but are likely to lose votes to the progressive left – the greens, the workers party and opponents of Starmer’s Gaza policy – but only where it doesn’t matter much, such as Oldham.  The 1997 tactical alliance necessary to defeat the Conservatives where it does matter is very much in place (see Blackpool South). 

In contrast, division on the right does matter and Reform voters are not ready to lend Rishi Sunak their votes to hold back the red tide.  (For what it’s worth, I very much doubt they would be more willing to lend their votes to Penny Mordaunt or Suella Bravermen, and, even if they were, the harm of the division inflicted by the process of putting such replacements in place would cost the Conservatives far more support than any they might pick up.)

Third, the same tactical voting alliance will also help the Lib Dems (across the blue wall and in the West Country) and in one or two places the Greens, as the motivation to defeat the incumbent is far more of a driver than positive support for any particular party of opposition.  (I expect to see the same trend in place come the general election in Scotland, where voters will gang up to defeat and punish a divided SNP Government – expect Labour, the Lib Dems and even the Scottish Conservatives to be the beneficiaries there.)

Finally, over the past few days, the Conservatives have attempted – Ken Baker-lite – to convince the media that the only elections that actually matter are for the Mayoralships, where Houchen (in Tees Valley) held on and Street (West Midlands) is currently predicted to. 

Whatever the outcome of these outlier elections, however, the results will be despite rather than because of anything happening in Downing St.  We need only look at the publicity being deployed by Conservative Mayoral candidates, where one will struggle to find the Conservative logo, let alone mention of any government policy or ‘achievement’.  Running against one’s own party’s record – whatever the outcome – does not offer a path to victory for that same party at a general election.

So here is my final prediction for these elections: they confirm what we already know from the opinion polls – the Conservatives are finished (for the time being) and maybe very finished.  Labour and the Lib Dems are not the Conservatives and that will be enough, for now.  But ultimately there is no enthusiasm for any political party and only the independents and the independently minded will actually have anything to cheer about come Monday morning.

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Radix is the radical centre think tank. We welcome all contributions which promote system change, challenge established notions and re-imagine our societies. The views expressed here are those of the individual contributor and not necessarily shared by Radix.

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