The Tories have a majority in precisely zero councils in Scotland or Wales. With a vote share of 30% in England, the loss of 491 seats nationwide and the drip drip drip of gains for the Liberal Democrats in the so called Blue Wall, one might think this will be the wake up call the party needs to return to conservative values. One would be wrong.
London was a Labour fortress before 5th May and taking Wandsworth, Barnet and Westminster from the Tories further reinforced their position. With current demographic trends, it will take a political earthquake of unthinkable proportions for that to change.
Outside London, Labour went pretty much nowhere and they are not remotely close to being value for the 4/1 odds offered by the bookmakers for a General Election victory.
Apart from taking Cumberland (was Carlisle), they won only 1 other council outside of London, where they were dominant already. They are now 2nd in Scotland but way behind the SNP.
The Lib Dems dented the Tories in the South and gained more seats than any other party but Jo Swinson’s ready for government schtick is safe for at least another 20 years.
The SNP gained more councillors. In other news, the sun rose & fell. They will no doubt push again for indyref2 & Boris Johnson will say no.
No party in Great Britain can declare these elections a “victory”. With average turnout (excluding Northern Ireland at 62.8%) substantially under 40% (not untypical of local elections), none of the above was the only real winner as is often the case in local elections.
The Northern Ireland protocol gifted Sinn Féin the unprecedented position of being the largest party at Stormont and the role of First Minister. I believe a border poll is now inevitable before 2030 (unless they drop the ball, Sinn Féin will also control Dáil Éireann in 2024).
Sinn Féin started the evening with 27 MLAs and ended it with 27 MLAs. They are now the largest party because of the dilution of the Unionist vote and their vote share barely moved.
Whilst there is no compelling majority for a border poll, this is precisely why the Tories should give one.
Cynical perhaps but not as cynical as defenestrating the DUP, their confidence and supply partner under Theresa May, with the imposition of the Protocol and effective annexation of Northern Ireland by the European Union in the process.
So why did the Tories have such a tough night? Here’s a rather unpleasant menu of nasties that may help to explain:
- National Insurance increase;
- Freezing of personal allowances;
- 54% increase in energy price cap (further 40%+ increase baked in from 01/10/22), green levy & VAT still on energy bills;
- Increase in Corporation Tax from 19% to 25% on the way;
- Zealous adherence to Net Zero;
- Inflation heading for 10%+ & now expected to remain above 7% in 2023;
- Stagflation baked in until 2024 earliest, risk of recession increasing;
- Unemployment will start rising in the coming months;
- Interest rates up 900% already (0.1% to 1%) and heading for 2%;
- Housing market rising for now but mortgage arrears will increase, leading to surge in repossessions just as mortgage availability is tightening, which will ultimately lead to a correction;
- Wage growth including pensions lagging way behind inflation;
- Immigration (legal & illegal) is far too high at net 500,000 a year.
So what does this mean for the next General Election? My best guesses are:
- We are heading for a hung parliament with the Tories as the largest party but losing around 60 seats from 2019.
- No one will work with them after their aforementioned betrayal of the DUP.
- Labour is the party of Metropolitan areas only. They will end up way short of an overall majority.
- Lib Dems will creep up to around 20 seats, including Dominic Raab’s.
- The SNP will be the kingmakers, extracting huge concessions around leaving behind debt should they secure a victory in the inevitable indyref2, in exchange for confidence and supply to “Keep the Tories out”.
All of which assumes that Boris remains Prime Minister and continues with his unconservative agenda, whilst also presiding over the acceleration of the breakup of the United Kingdom. Heating or eating? More like surviving. Indefinitely.
Of course, there is another way. By way of an entrée:
- Reverse National Insurance increase;
- Cut income tax and unfreeze Personal Allowances;
- Leave Corporation Tax alone or better still cut it to 15%;
- Scrap the renewables levy on electricity bills;
- Remove VAT on energy, a key Brexit commitment;
- Scrap maniacal Net Zero nonsense.
It is time for conservatism. Does anyone have a number for Lord David Frost?