One feature of yesterday’s local election results was the electoral peril of controlling a council. Labour lost a string of councils whilst being able to gain Lambeth after four years of a Liberal Democrat/Conservative coalition. The Conservatives, despite an excellent night in general, lost their sizable majority in Richmond to the Lib Dems, who in turn lost their stronghold in Islington.
This may not be much new. Councils have always risked making unpopular local decisions which affect them in a way that’s not predictable from the national political scene. But has this been accented by widespread disillusionment with (at best) or hostility to (at worst) the government, spilling into a wider “anti-politics” mood? Paradoxically, it could be that some of Labour’s council gains were helped by the tribulations of the Cabinet.
If Labour finish with a net loss of under about 300 seats, it should qualify as another “Lucky Tony” moment.
The author is a Liberal Democrat activist in London. Mike Smithson returns at the weekend.