UK Elections: Huge Labour Gains, Huge Tory And Lib Dem Losses, Boris Holds London, But Also Sweeping Apathy – OpEd


As everyone expected, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats were largely humiliated in Thursday’s local council elections across England, Scotland and Wales, and Labour made huge gains.

With all 181 councils having declared their results, Labour had taken over 32, to control 75 in total, while the Tories were down to 42, having lost 12. With 4863 council seats declared, Labour had gained 824, and had 2159 in total, the Tories had lost 403 and had 1006 in total, and the Lib Dems had lost 329, and had 438 in total.

The only good news, from a Tory point of view, was that Boris Johnson narrowly held onto London for a second term as Mayor, beating Ken Livingstone, but it is also clear that, to win, Johnson had to stand apart from his colleagues in central government, and his success can only make David Cameron look worse rather than better. Personally, I find that disappointing, as Ken offered to help hard-working Londoners by cutting fares, whereas Boris offered nothing more than his usual stand-up routine, but whether through his own failings, or through a media that was extraordinarily biased against him, Ken appeared to have no chance of winning whatsoever, and he should, therefore, take comfort from the fact that so many people actually voted decisively against the Tories and almost brought him victory. It was also significant that Jenny Jones, for the Green party, beat the Lib Dems and the hapless Brian Paddick into fourth place.

Excepting the London Mayoral victory, the elections have been a disaster for the Tories, and the results countrywide have been a disaster for the Lib Dems, but across the UK there is no real sense of triumph as far as I can tell (outside of Labour political circles), and the most depressing statistic to take from the elections is the sad truth that only a third of those who were eligible to vote actually bothered to do so.

Satisfying though it is to see David Cameron and his cruel, misguided party get an electoral drubbing (along with their Lib Dem stooges), we still have to wait for another three years, apparently, to vote these butchers out of Parliament, and in the meantime Labour has yet to establish itself as a left-of-centre phoenix with a true vision about how to rebuild Britain, rather than bleeding it to death as the coalition has been doing for the last two years.

Given the drubbing the Tories received, I doubt that hearing David Cameron bleat on about the endless need for austerity will have done anything to turn the tide of disdain that has been engulfing the government since its disastrous budget first led to a widespread and accurate perception that, as well as being arrogant handout of touch, the Tories are also incompetent.

After sympathising with the Conservative councillors who had lost their seats, David Cameron tried to insist, “These are difficult times, and there aren’t easy answers. What we have to do is to take difficult decisions to deal with the debt, the deficit and the broken economy that we inherited. We’ll go on making those decisions because we’ve got to do the right thing for our country.”

The “right thing,” as many people are now realising, would be to admit that the government’s austerity plan is killing the country, and not stimulating any sort of growth. Instead, the Prime Minister’s robotic instance that, as Margaret Thatcher would have said, the government is “not for turning,” just sounds stupidly stubborn, and the following statement is simply meaningless. According to Cameron, it remains the government’s job to “do everything to demonstrate we are on the side of people that work hard and do the right thing for themselves and their families — that’s who we are fighting for, that’s who we must govern for.”

If he really wants to be “on the side of people that work hard,” the best thing would be for everyone concerned to pull the plug on this failed government, and to call a general election.

Andy Worthington

Andy Worthington is an investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers). Worthington is the author of "The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison"

One thought on “UK Elections: Huge Labour Gains, Huge Tory And Lib Dem Losses, Boris Holds London, But Also Sweeping Apathy – OpEd

  • May 7, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Friday’s local election results for Labour was a long-term economic disaster for the country. People do not realise but they have just shot themselves in the foot and for the future of their children and grandchildren. For we are in an awful financial and economic mess that has to be sorted with total debt by 2015 according to PricewaterhouseCoopers chief economist of $16.4 trillion equivalent, nearly 50% created whilst the last Labour government was in power for 13 years. Councils in this respect can lay the right economic foundations locally between themselves and private business in creating jobs. As I go around the country I see no Labour-controlled council interacting in any meaningful way with private business to provide the much needed jobs and wealth that our children will need for their futures – for jobs can only now be created by private business, nowhere else. So we shall have another generation where our young will have virtually no meaningful life to look forward to. Therefore those families who voted last week to put Labour in charge of our councils have unwittingly stopped any major hope locally that their children will have jobs in the future. When therefore will people learn that both government and councils have to work to one end, the creation of private sector jobs? With the conservatives and lib dems in government and Labour in charge of the local economies can we really see any jobs being created realistically? If so those who think so are living on another planet to myself. Indeed where are the jobs going to come from if government and councils are against each other. Clearly this is not the right environment to get us out of the biggest mess that this country has ever experienced and it will only exasperate the situation more and by the end of the year we will have near 10% unemployed, even more next year. It is therefore time that industry czars were appointed by government to all councils so that councils and business work together to create jobs. What I have seen up and down the country is that councils have not a clue and basically do not really interact with business to create jobs together – if they did and they did it right we would now be seeing tens of 1000s of jobs being created through national and export driven markets. Far from it unfortunately and I have seen no long-term jobs created as they should have been. The Councils want a very ‘big’ kick up the backside so that they wake up to reality. But overall it amazes me why people after being economically decimated by Labour, think that a protest vote will help them. The absolute opposite will be the outcome I can tell them and their children will definitely suffer from this insane fixed mindset. Just mark my words and when the next generation say to them that they have no jobs, just look at yourself in the mirror, for it was you who has unsuspectingly made it that way. For many English councils have up to £1 billion (some beyond) going through their systems ever year and if they cannot create any new jobs from this, then they are failing their communities, but where every year they just do that – for local jobs is what really counts. Labour has an abysmal record in this respect and Friday’s vote for Labour will definitely despatch many more people locally to the dole queues. A pity therefore that people do not think of the long term effects on their children and not just for themselves. When will people realise what they are doing is the big question, and think of the long-term effects for their children through their protest vote and unrealistic actions?

    Dr David Hill
    Chief Executive
    World Innovation Foundation


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