• The Electorate has rejected Right-wing policies
No, I haven’t got that wrong. The Conservative and UKIP share of the vote fell by 5% since 2013. But the key to first past the post elections is the distribution of votes. May’s Hard Brexit stance has consolidated the right of centre votes. However, progressive voters, whose total exceeded the Right’s, are split 60/40 and so are undercutting each other. As the Bananarama almost had it: It’s not how you vote. It’s the way that you do it. And that’s what gets results.
• The pollsters have got it about right
Local elections are poor predictors for General Elections. The Conservative vote share was higher at the 1983 and 1987 General Elections than in the precursor locals. This may explain why the Conservatives share was only 11% ahead, compared with an 18% lead in the polls. People may vote differently when national issues come into play. One thing the polls have got bang on, was the collapse in UKIP votes.
• Differential turnout is a big worry for Labour
Whilst turnout was, as usual, dire across the country, there were significant differences, which point to Labour’s core vote staying at home. For example, leafy Conservative Solihull turned out 33% compared with solid Labour Sandwell’s 23%. That disparity scuppered Labour’s Metro-Mayoral candidate.
• There something happening in the North East
Sue Jeffrey’s unfortunate defeat in Tees Valley was on a dire 21% turnout. However, with 5 out of the 6 MPs in the region, turnout shouldn’t have mattered to Labour. Add in the loss of 22 seats in Durham, some solid Labour council seats being lost this year in by-elections and young MPs standing down and it’s hard not to conclude something significant may be happening below the radar.
• Voters are not on board for a grand progressive alliance so far
Since 2015, I’ve advised boards that an anti-Tory approach wouldn’t begin to emerge until after 2020. This premature election may speed that up – but GB voters are not the transferring kind. For example, half the votes in the West of England and West Midlands races, transferred neither to the Labour or Conservative front runners.
Also the Tories are much better at harvesting UKIP second preferences than Labour is from its putative reservoir of potential progressive votes. In the West Midlands, Labour only gained at best 41% transfers from Lib Dems, Greens and Communists.
• The mainstream parties have lost ground
Just as in France, the mainstream parties have lost share of the total vote. (See Durham). The four largest parties (inc. UKIP) got just short of 88% of the projected national vote compared with 91% in 2013. It’s not a tsunami, but, taken with the poor (though better) turnout, our democracy is clearly under pressure.