Seeking Council

Over the weekend, this writer took his partner for a romantic getaway in the Cotswolds. On the first evening, having had a lovely, if slightly treacherous, ramble up a large hill and down again, we wandered into a local pub. It was full of proper countryside people and smelled of proper countryside beer – give me a pub like that over a London Wetherspoons any day.

The conversations flowed loudly about big nights out in Gloucester, why the weather was getting colder again and some predictions for the local football team. The atmosphere was jolly, friendly, and boozy. It was perfect.

However, as I went to the bar to get our second round of well-earned drinks, an older gentleman had commanded the attention of those around him. As I approached, I heard him utter the words,

“Of course, no-deal is better than no Brexit” and almost retched.

Even in the remote little pub in the Cotswolds, Brexit was still the talk of the town. Despite my best efforts to escape, it had caught up with me. There is no escaping Brexit, just delaying it. Like the Predator, it will hunt you down eventually.

As I sat back down, glum-faced, my partner asked me what was wrong. “Brexit,” I replied.

She rolled her eyes and turned her attention to a nearby dog.

Well The Local Elections Were A Shit-Show, Weren’t They?

For the Tories and Labour, they most certainly were.

While last week’s elections must be taken with a pinch of salt, there is no denying that a strong message was given to Westminster by the people of Britain. That message was a hearty, “Spin on this,” while flipping the most aggressive of birds as possible.

The Tories lost around 1,300 councillors. That is, without question, a total disaster, especially as speculation before-hand about losses between 800-1,000 was considered “appalling.” The Labour Party were quietly hoping to see defections from the Tories over to their side but oops, no, sorry Jezza, the complete opposite. They also lost councillors, although only to the tune of a modest 84. UKIP, even in this political climate, lost councillors – 145 of them, in fact.

The Liberal Democrats, on the other hand, had a remarkable evening, having previously been confined to the fringes of political discourse after their Tuition Fees-based waking nightmare of 2012. They gained a whopping 704 councillors. The other gains were made by the Green Party, who received 194 new councillors and there were a massive 661 new independent councillors without party affiliation.

Woof. That is a bad day at the office for the two “behemoth” parties. There are, however, as with all things politics, some noteworthy caveats.

The first is that neither the Brexit party nor Change UK ran any candidates, which would have changed the outlook significantly. The two main parties would still have suffered massive losses, but the Lib Dems’ gains would likely have been split with Change UK. Additionally, there were a record number of spoiled ballots (i.e. voters defiling their voting cards to express displeasure, often with a phallus) – it is safe to assume that many of these voters would have turned to the Brexit party.

In the upcoming European elections, both Change UK and the Brexit party are running.

Additionally, it is worth noting that Local Elections are often used as protest votes – when it comes to a General Election, the people tend to play it safer and vote for one of the two established parties, so this result is not a direct indicator of voting intentions if there was a General Election tomorrow.

However, for both May and Corbyn to suggest that the results of the local elections demonstrate that the people want them to “Just get on and deliver Brexit” is laughable – the vast majority of the councillors gained went to Remain-backing parties, and the Leave-backing parties all suffered losses. Again – take with a pinch of salt: the nation is not now overwhelmingly in favour of Remain, but it is an indicator of public opinion shifting.

This will, undoubtedly, form part of Farage’s planning for the European elections and his attempts to unify the Leave vote.

So What Next?

This could well be a week of big news.

  • The Tory/Labour Deal is rumoured to be near completion, but this is extremely unlikely. It is far more likely to fall apart at the end, and for Corbyn to then be forced into backing a second referendum.
  • Theresa May is currently meeting the chairman of the 1922 Committee, who will likely ask her when she plans to resign as Prime Minister – she may be forced into giving a specific date this week.
  • Gavin Williamson, the disgraced Defence Secretary who was sacked last week, might hit back at the Conservative Party – this could be a truly spectacular clusterbunk.
  • The government might also announce its next strategy – another vote on the withdrawal agreement? Indicative votes? Who knows, but either will be highly unlikely to succeed.

Stay tuned to Between the Lines – we’ll be cutting through the noise for you (and offering emotional support where necessary).

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