Labour have swept the board. Ed Miliband deserves congratulations. It was a great success. 854 new councillors, quite widely spread across the UK. I never thought he had it in him!
We’ll let the papers tell you why windturbine Tories did so badly. Lets have a quick look at why Ed’s Labour did so well.
Firstly, the low turnout was a massive boost to an opposition party. In some areas the vote was so small it was basically a fight amongst activists. Its much easier to get worked up against the government than for it. All incumbent parties suffer this. Especially midterms. Obama was given a similar sized boot in his. It doesn't diminish the success. But it did make it easier.
Secondly, this is a result fought over a pre-coalition background. When Labour last contested these seats they had to fight the protest party of the Lib Dems as well as the Tories. Then the liberals were the anti-Browns. Now the Liberals ARE the Tories. Labour is fighting on only one front. The message is its US vs THEM.
Thirdly. The total incompetence of the government in the last six weeks. Not one decent headline. Its almost as if the pre Mandelson Brown cabal had wandered back into office. A budget disaster. Pasty stories. Murdoch. Hunt. Fuel crisis. Qatada. Posh boys...
Any government can have bad luck, but to make their own bad luck is unforgivable. Why did the Tories tax 100% rock solid blue pensioners just before an election? Why did they do the half hearted tax cut to 45%? It cost them the positives of the taxation threshold rise without the gain of bold headlines for tax cutting.. It wasn’t necessary to do it now. Why not next year?
Miliband had the misfortune of the Ken tax story but that’s a local London matter, and it cost him his hat trick. But as the Tories have cocked up, labour have cocked up less. Miliband managed to avoid to much flak from the Galloway shock. The misjudgement of Tom Watson to plug his book, hasn’t had much impact on anyone. Opposition don’t have to say much. If anything. Tony Blair won a landslide without having any policies at all. Ed Miliband took that lesson on board from his first day.
Fourthly – The media. This was just fortunate for Miliband but he didn’t upset the right wing press, which allowed him to exploit it. Since the budget the Tories dropped about 8% in the polls. That was a real drop where voters giving the benefit of the doubt decided they’d had enough. A daily negative press about Cameron, Tories, government, Liberals and cock ups reinforced the rich vs poor, they are incompetent narrative.. Front pages with queues of foreigners stuck in an airports wouldn't normally upset the Daily Mail too much. But they went berserk. Weeks of damning headlines.
If this were a real election the right wing press would have been much more partisan.
That doesn’t mean that Prime Minister Miliband is something we will be hearing in 3 years time.
Mid terms don’t mean much. The Liberals have now taken their final hit across all those angry voters who felt cheated by the coalition agreement. They won’t sink much lower. They are now at core. Elections are an uphill climb and each new seat that labour needs to take from the Liberals and Tories is steeper than the last.
The good UKIP councilor gains don’t net them any MPs. In a real election, when not voting blue probably does mean a vote for the red, voters will be less likely to give UKIP their preference. Especially if Cameron finally acknowledges the Euro split within his party and does something about it.
There are still three years to go. A lot can happen. The economy might come good. The SNP might struggle..or do better. The Liberals might find a reason to get people to vote for them again. Europe’s instability might have blown up or calmed down. So the result isn’t that important in the long term.
But for Ed Miliband it is still a very, very good result, And one that he can use to show that he can generate support and can get people out to vote for him. The coalition have allowed Labour back into the game. And so made the 2015 election much, much closer.