The overnight results in the local elections are bad, but not disastrous for the Tories. They do not presage a 1997 style wipe-out. And they do not suggest that the public is yearning for a Labour government with Keir Starmer as Prime Minister. In normal times, the Tories could regard them as fairly standard mid-term fare. But the worry for the Tories is that there is so much bad news to come between now and the next election.
The Bank of England’s forecast yesterday suggests that there’ll be very little economic growth between now and 2024 and quite a lot of pain. It is hard to imagine there’ll be much of a feelgood factor when voters go to the polls. Incumbents usually need people to be feeling like things are getting better when they go to cast their ballots.
The other Tory worry is that no party will go into a coalition with them. Labour don’t need to win a majority or even be the largest party to deprive the Tories of power; they just need to stop the Tories from getting over 320 seats. Why? Because the Tories have no potential partners. It is impossible to imagine the Lib Dems going into government with them again considering the electoral consequences for them last time. While a repeat of the confidence and supply deal with the DUP would be hard given the Northern Ireland Protocol and all the problems that has caused the DUP. So the Tories have to win outright if they are to continue in office.
The upshot of this is that these results bode worse for the Tories than the headline numbers suggest.