Local elections

Local elections: the video catch-up

A few videos from yesterday that we thought CoffeeHousers might care to tune into this morning. First, Boris’s victory speech (with a bit of Ken Livingstone tacked on to the end): Second, Livingstone’s concession speech, in which he announced that ‘this is my last election’: And, finally, Ed Miliband’s unfortunate meeting with an egg:

Labour succeeds in slowing Salmond’s advance

This was the election which was supposed to establish the SNP as Scotland’s new national party, replacing Labour as the default party of choice for Scottish voters. This was also the election which was expected show that last year’s extraordinary Scottish Parliament result was not a one-off and that the SNP could push on and defeat Labour in its town hall heartlands too. But none of this has happened. Not all the results are in from Scotland’s councils yet but the overall picture is already clear. Labour has recovered from last year’s Scottish Parliament shocker and halted the SNP momentum — at least in its core key urban areas of

James Forsyth

The Tories air their grievances

In my unscientific canvass of Tory opinion this morning, there have been a couple of consistent themes. There’s a lot of criticism that the government lacks a narrative, that voters don’t understand why it is doing what it is doing. Another regular demand is for a shake-up of Number 10. Now, undoubtedly some of this is just the acceptable way of criticising the leader. But reinforcements arriving in Downing Street — especially ones with deep roots in the Tory party — would reassure quite a few people, as well as broadening Number 10’s support base in the party. Sayeeda Warsi is also coming in for a lot of stick. There’s

A dreadful turnout

There are two major stories behind the headline results this morning: the rejection of elected mayors and the low voter turnout. Of these, I think the second is the most significant. You can apportion some of the blame to the dreary weather, if you like. But, still, a predicted turnout figure of 32 per cent? That’s hardly encouraging. First, though, we shouldn’t exaggerate the situation. This wouldn’t be the lowest turnout figure for any local election in history — but the lowest since 2000, when the figure was less than 30 per cent. And it’s also true that turnout has risen for the past three general elections, even if we’re

James Forsyth

Where we stand this morning

The results so far have been good but not spectacular for Labour. The BBC’s national vote share projection has them on 39 percent, the Tories on 31, and the Lib Dems on 16. These numbers would deliver a comfortable Labour majority on both the old and new boundaries. Strikingly, UKIP is averaging 14 percent in the wards it is standing in. This is an impressive result given that UKIP traditionally doesn’t do that well in local elections where Europe is less of an issue. I suspect that the result is a combination of the fact that the party’s agenda has widened beyond Europe in recent years, that the coalition has

James Forsyth

The early signs from the local elections

Tonight, there seems to be a general acceptance that Boris has won London. The talk is of a four points plus victory. But it is worth, of course, remembering that no votes have been counted and there’s been no exit poll. But, sadly, it appears that there will be few other mayoralties created this evening. The opposition of the local political establishment appears to have triumphed in nearly all the cities holding referendums on whether or not to have a mayor. Their loss is Liverpool’s gain which will benefit considerably if it is the largest city outside London with a mayor. In terms of the council results, the very early

15 (other) cities to watch

Forget London. Odds are that Boris will win re-election while Labour becomes the largest party on the GLA. There are far more exciting battles going on around the country. Here’s the state of play in 15 cities outside the M25: 1. Birmingham. After strong gains in 2011, Labour are looking to depose the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition and regain the overall majority they held here until 2003. They need just five gains to do so — and, with 18 Tory seats and 13 Lib Dem ones up, that shouldn’t prove too difficult. Both of the coalition parties are simply in damage limitation mode. 2. Glasgow. Labour held a majority here for

James Forsyth

The contests that really matter today

For the long-term future of Britain, perhaps, the most important contests today are the mayoral referendums in 11 of Britain’s biggest cities. For elected mayors offer the best chance of urban renewal. As recently as the ‘70s people described Birmingham as the city of the future. No one would say that now. But a mayor might just be able to give Britain’s sclerotic second city the leadership it needs. Indeed, it is hard to imagine how a mayor could be worse than the Tory-Lib Dem council that currently runs the city which opposed education reform for far too long. Liverpool has already decided to have a mayor and is electing

What would count as a success for Labour?

In today’s English council elections, there’s no doubt that Labour will do better than in 2008 — the last time most of these seats were contested. Experts Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher predict that they’ll improve their ‘national equivalent vote share’ by 13 points compared to four years ago. But how many seats can they pick up of the back of that improvement? Rallings and Thrasher say a figure of 700 would justify a five-point lead in the polls. LSE’s Tony Travers expects Labour’s gains to be around 700-800, and says that: ‘If Labour only manage to put on a further 500 seats, that would be seen as seriously underperforming

The View from 22 — 3 May 2012

Here, CoffeeHousers, is this week’s episode of The View from 22 podcast. In this episode, Leah McLaren returns to the Spectator a decade on from her infamous cover story attacking British men to explain how she’s now fallen in love with one (0:30). James Forsyth and Neil O’Brien from Policy Exchange examine the Tories’ lack of progress in the North (6:48) and how elected Mayors will help. Fraser joins in for a discussion of today’s local elections and why Labour has the most at stake (16:10). You can listen below with the embedded player or subscribe through iTunes. As ever, we’d love to hear what you think, good or bad. 

Tricolour Britain

With unionists getting grubbed in Scotland and Labour being driven to near-extinction in vast swathes of the south, a new map of political Britain is emerging. In my latest Telegraph column, I called it ‘Tricolour Britain’ — the SNP at the top, Tories at the bottom and Labour stuck in the middle (with Wales). Policy Exchange has today released research which throws more light on this slow-mo political segregation. I thought CoffeeHousers may be interested in what strike me as the top points.   1. Scottish Tory Syndrome is when a once-dominant party loses and doesn’t recover. The party has failed to capture the imagination of voters, so when its apparatus

An anti-Labour leaflet in a pro-Labour font

The leaflet pictured above landed on my doorstep in Peckham last week. It’s the most interesting piece of election literature I’ve received this year — not because of its words, but because of its graphic design. If you read it closely, it appears to be an official communication from the Tories. The legally mandated imprint declares it to be ‘Promoted by Ian Sanderson on behalf of the Conservative Party, both of 30 Millbank, London SW1P 4DP’ — and that would accord with its strongly anti-Ken Livingstone text. If you don’t examine it closely, however, it appears to be an official communication from Labour. The highlighted details are red, and all

More than a soap opera

David Miliband is considering a return to frontline British politics. At least that is what Andrew Grice has heard. He reports: ‘David Miliband is considering a surprise comeback to frontline politics in an attempt to end speculation about a continuing rift with his brother Ed. Friends of the former Foreign Secretary said yesterday that his joining the Shadow Cabinet was a “live issue” in his circle of political allies. “There is a debate going on. Some people are arguing that it would be better to be a team player than look as though he is sulking on the sidelines,” said one source.’ Better for whom, I wonder? The fear that

Building a yellow-beating strategy

If the Tories are to win an overall majority at the next election, they are almost certainly going to have to take some seats off the Liberal Democrats. Given that the Tories have problems in Scotland and the urban north, the party needs to win seats like Somerton and Frome.  This fact is why Tory MPs are paying such attention to a piece by Rob Hayward on Conservative Home. Hayward, a former Tory MP who has advised the party on the coming boundary review, points out that where the Lib Dems had an MP, their vote in the local elections pretty much held up.  This implies that removing Lib Dem

From the archives: Nick Clegg and Margaret Thatcher

Here’s a game of Spot the Difference for you. Compare Nick Clegg’s comments today — “…there are some very strong memories of what life was like under Thatcherism in the 1980s, and somehow a fear that that’s what we’re returning to…” — with the latest shot from The Spectator archives: Can Nick Clegg sing the blues? Fraser Nelson, The Spectator, 13 March 2010 Nick Clegg’s office already has a Downing Street feel to it. Since becoming leader of the Liberal Democrats, he has had it redecorated so that portraits of old party leaders hang on the staircase up to his room, as portraits of former prime minsters do in No.

Another disappointment for Ed Miliband

The final tally from Wales is just in — and it’s a minor disappointment, on a day of many disappointments, for Ed Miliband. There was a time when Labour looked set for a comfortable overall majority in the country. But it isn’t to be. They did gain four seats, yet that leaves them one short of an overall majority. Now, with thirty seats — exactly half of those in the Welsh Assembly — they will have to make do with a tighter, working majority. Far from terrible, but not the red groundswell that Miliband might have hoped for. The problem for Miliband is the overall picture: a precarious sort of

Clegg versus Huhne, at a local level

While the Lib Dems lost control of Nick Clegg’s city of Sheffield to Labour, losing 9 councillors, they won every seat up for election Chris Huhne’s constituency of Eastleigh. They even took Labour’s only council seat in the borough. It is worth remembering that the Lib Dems are waging very different types of battle in these two areas: against Labour in Sheffield and mainly the Tories in Eastleigh. Of all the Cabinet members, Huhne ran probably the most anti-Tory campaign in 2010, and many predicted a strong backlash against the Lib Dems in Eastleigh for going into coalition with them, perhaps with Labour supporters refusing to back them tactically over

James Forsyth

Three points from a remarkable night

This has been a remarkable election night. To my mind, there are three big stories out of the polls. First, the George Osborne masterminded campaign for a new Conservative majority is on track. AV, barring some shock, has been defeated and the Conservative vote has held up remarkably well in the English local elections. Indeed, right now the Tories have actually gained councilors in England. Add to this that the next election, if the coalition lasts to 2013, will be fought on new constituency boundaries that are more favourable to the Tories and things are looking promising for the party.    The coalition looks secure. Even after last night’s drubbing,