Now the local elections have finished full attention will turn to the General Election campaign for the parties and candidates. I gave our local candidate the evening off yesterday!
But what did the Parties make of the results as they analysed them yesterday?
My first reaction was to be shouting at the MPs in the TV studios trying to spin the lines they had been given about what the respective results would mean for them in the #GE17. I think all non political types must scream at the guests who claim its all looking rosy. Even UKIP were somehow trying to pretend things were ok for them after they got wiped out of their local government base. The funniest was the Tories trying to pretend these results weren’t good for them at all. This is clever stuff. You should never look like you take victory for granted or even slightly triumphal. And in fact their Percentage share of the vote at 38% is down on their national polling figures. This was useful for them to remind voters and party workers they are doing ok but at this stage not enough to win the 100+ majority some polls suggest they would achieve. Equally, whilst not really much consolation if we are being honest, it allowed Labour to create the spin that Labour was closing the gap and the results were ‘mixed’. Well if you claim recovering to only being 11 points behind with 5 weeks to go to be a good position I worry for the ambition! And ‘mixed’ – between disastrous and calamitous!
I used to be given the ‘Lines to Take’ but very rarely used them. They were so excruciating to hear being used! I often thought that people had more self respect than to use the lines. Message discipline is one thing but repeating humiliating lines about disastrous election results being ‘mixed’ is beyond the pale.
The best excuse for not taking the local election results too seriously as a prediction for the general election is simply because they are just that – local elections. Whilst this does not mean everybody has turned out to vote for a local candidate and ignored the national picture. Far from it. Most people vote in local election on the national picture but there is always a little weighting for popular local candidates and specific local issues. So whilst it is right to say these figures don’t translate into the General Election they do conform to a pattern in the election cycle. For Labour this is worrying. We are mid term 7 years into a Tory government. Usually Governments are punished at this stage and we would be expecting Labour to be doing well. Hanging on to predictable wins for Andy Burnham and Steve Rotherham in Manchester and Liverpool in no way make up for the horrific losses across the country. Pundits were suggesting we could lose up to 150 council seats. The fact that we were -382 at the end is a nightmare. That’s 382 hard working councillors who can no longer speak up for their local communities. Here in Loughborough hard working Robert Sharp lost his seat on nothing but the national picture. I have analysed the local results and amended some of my thoughts because of these.
How Leicestershire looks after Thursday…
As I will be acting as the Agent for my good friend Jewel Miah (who was my agent in 2010) I will probably not be adding as many updates during the campaign. However, I am capturing my thoughts and jotting down all those little moments and memories that make up an election campaign to be used after we reflect on the results after June 9th. In fact I am creating a few posts with predictions which are scheduled to be available from the 9th June. I guess these are the equivalent of my ‘brown envelope’ predictions. So this is probably my last few thoughts before we dive into the short campaign. We will be doing our bit in Loughborough to close the gap on the sitting Tory despite the difficult national polling position.
From what I have seen from the Labour leadership they have dismissed the local election results and are suggesting nothing changes. Indeed they are briefing that Jeremy will be even more centre stage for the rest of the campaign and they are hoping that policies will beat the battle of personalities. I have written enough about why policy lists never beat a strong campaign message so that worries me. There is also another great emphasis on the ‘doorstep conversations’ without the prism of the mainstream media. Sadly whilst this is an important part of campaigning it fails to understand how the Tories won in 2015 without any workers on the ground – using direct messages and social media like Facebook. One door knock during the campaign does not make up for the hundreds of other messages and images that make up the campaign for most of the electorate. It really misunderstand what the door knocking is about… its not a 30 minute conversation to change the minds of voters.
So it looks like there will be more of the same from all parties between now and June 9th. More Theresa repeating her strong and stable and Corbyn meeting groups of party members in town centres and policy announcements.
Despite my wish that Tony Benn was right – that elections should be about policies not personalities I am afraid this campaign is being defined as a battle of May v Corbyn.
We are in for a long 5 weeks.