With 150 of 161 councils having completed their counts we now have a clearer picture.
Vote share / Seat share:
Labour – 31% votes / 49.0% seats
Conservative – 29% votes / 32.6% seats
UKIP – 17% votes / 4.0% seats
Lib Dem – 13% votes / 10.4% seats
Labour has had a reasonable but not great election. It has made gains, but not as many as an opposition aspiring to win a general election in 12 months should be. Its vote share reflects the opinion polls and shows the lead over the Tories is narrowing.
The Conservatives lost 18% of the seats they held in this part of the election cycle. Their vote share is under 30%. But they are gaining ground on Labour as economic factors continue to confound every one of Labour’s chosen battleground issues.
The Lib Dems are fighting a rearguard action. The general election will see them posting even greater numbers of paper candidates and pulling what activists they have left into a few dozen constituencies in a desperate effort to maintain their Westminster seats. For them the aim is having enough seats to negotiate another coalition. Anything less and they will be an irrelevance.
The media, having hyped the UKIP challenge for weeks, has had to follow through by justifying the hype with stories of this election being a huge result for the party – or the first tremors of the promised political earthquake. But the hyperbole has had to be toned down as it became clear that UKIP’s both vote share and percentage of seats won have fallen from last year’s result. Last year UKIP got 20% of the vote and 6.1% of the seats. This blog has been saying for some time the polls show UKIP has fallen back from their high point last year, and now the evidence is incontrovertible. Which makes the headlines look ridiculous and Farage’s ‘victory parade’ in Essex surreal. Securing just 17% of a low turnout, having got out the enthusiastic UKIP vote, underlines the glass ceiling effect Farage’s approach is having with voters.
To counter this inconvenient reality the media have come up with a ludicrous wheeze. They are arguing that UKIP has done brilliantly – so long as you pretend London does not exist. This is the same as them saying at the last general election Labour actually won, so long as you ignore the south east and much of the midlands. It’s ludicrous. You can’t just exclude a huge part of the electorate in this way to fit in with a prepared narrative, because they will have the vote next May. What then? An appeal to the Election Commission to disregard any votes cast inside the M25?
The big story that is being completely ignored concerns turnout. The record turnout predicted by Farage didn’t materialise. It seems 64% of those eligible to vote have not bothered. Given the opportunity to protest against the three legacy parties and the political class in general by supporting Farage’s ‘People’s Army’, the outlet provided by UKIP did not appeal. That should be food for thought.
Now we wait for Sunday night to see how the European results stack up.
With more than half the councils having declared their results, the UKIP earthquake has hit 4.7 on the political richter scale.
This earthquake has prompted Nigel Farage to carry out a victory parade (no, really) in Essex (without a steel band) where UKIP now controls no councils.
So here are the numbers… 2401 seats confirmed at this time and UKIP have won 113. That is 4.7% of the seats available so far. This compares to the 6.1% of available seats UKIP won in 2013.
But in this media event, the journos would have it that this is a shattering result, evidence of a UKIP surge and of course, a political earthquake. Short memories or short of headlines to pitch in excited tones? Curious.
There’s been a fair bit of excited chatter on the BBC about UKIP and particularly their result in Sunderland. As Nick Robinson wrote:
From the very first result – a council ward in safe Labour Sunderland – the tremors could be felt. UKIP secured 30% of the vote in an area where it hadn’t even run before. [...]
[...] The Farage factor has cut Tory support the most – Essex man has shown signs of becoming UKIP man.
It has, though, also damaged Labour – challenging them in their northern heartlands and undermining Ed Miliband’s hopes of winning in key election battlegrounds in the Midlands.
This is overstating things. The ‘north’ is not a single entity. Factors influencing UKIP’s support in Sunderland do not necessarily resonate in Wythenshawe. UKIP might shine in Rotherham, but fail to flicker in other parts of Yorkshire.
We are not seeing a national rise across the board of the type the SDP experienced in the early 1980s. There are pockets of particular disaffection – particularly if immigration is a big issue – where UKIP’s message plays well. But in neighbouring towns they fail to make any headway.
What is being consistently overlooked by the political talking heads and the media is the turnout. At a projected 36% this election is another landslide for the Apathetic and Disengaged Party. UKIP said they were pulling in lots of people who had given up voting. But the effect of this has not driven up the turnout.
So it is clear even UKIP’s brand of anti politics is being largely ignored, and around only 1 in 10 eligible voters are voting for them. To call this an earthquake when looking at the facts in context, seems a bit daft.
Morning all. What we know so far is that with the results coming in for the local elections, UKIP has currently held one council seat and added 89. The figure will continue to rise, particularly outside London, but any gains in the capital will be small in number.
With the motivating factor of the European Elections, wherever there were council seats up for election outside London it was clear UKIP would do well, as the overwhelming majority of its support base would turnout to vote. This therefore is a almost certainly the UKIP high watermark.
Labour gains are far fewer than they would have hoped and much lower than an opposition party at this stage of the parliament should be winning. These are anxious times for Team Miliband.
The Lib Dems could not have done more to play down expectations with their national vote share down so much. But as always they have played their tactical game – one that Farage after many years has finally woken up to – of pouring what resources they have into carefully selected areas to maximise their councillor tally.
The Tories have lost control of seven local authorities, all but one to no overall control. They expected to do a lot worse than this, although later London results could increase the pain. What this shows is the Tories are somewhat stronger than many thought, even with a lot of theirs and Labour’s vote staying home.
The big point to take on is that the turnout seems set to be around 36%. This is up slightly from the Euro Elections in 2009, but lower than in 2004. Nigel Farage’s prediction of a record turnout therefore appears at this stage to have been scuppered.