Normally it is at this point – the morning after the night before – that the blame game begins. A day of elections followed by overnight results, means that a clear picture has usually emerged across the board. However, the sheer volume of yesterday’s elections – dubbed by the media as ‘Super Thursday’ – means that some of the key battlegrounds, notably London, will not declare the results until Friday evening. The final few results will not be known until the weekend.
With the media headlines focused on the macro picture, it’s easy to overlook that last night was the largest set of elections until the next General Election. The UK public has voted for: 129 members of the Scottish parliament; 60 Welsh assembly members; 108 members of Northern Ireland’s legislative assembly; 2,743 English metropolitan and district councillors; 25 members of the Greater London assembly; mayors in London, Bristol, Liverpool and Salford; and 41 regional police and crime commissioners. This is on top of the two parliamentary by-elections Labour defended in Sheffield (Brightside & Hillsborough) and Ogmore, in South Wales.
Labour cannot avoid being the focus of the results. Recent polls predicted that the party would lose 150, and possibly even 200 Council seats, but the picture that is emerging will present some comfort to the Labour Leadership.
However, despite not being as bad as many anticipated, Labour has seen the most substantial net council losses of any Opposition Party in over 30 years, their once strong presence in Scotland reduced to third place, and an eight point reduction in their Welsh support.
It is perhaps the Scottish result that is the most interesting to emerge so far. Labour’s collapse has pushed the Conservatives into second place, and while the SNP will continue in Government, the result somewhat suggests that the nationalist party could be nearing its high water mark.
Elsewhere, there are a few silver linings that Labour can cling to. The two by-elections that took place yesterday, which normally would have received far greater media interest, returned two solid Labour majorities. The London elections look set to deliver a Labour Mayor and GLA gains, and the overall landscape suggests that Jeremy Corbyn is not as toxic on the doorstep as many had feared.
What does this mean for Corbyn going forward? He will survive, at least until after the EU Referendum and despite the mounting rumours of a stalking horse leadership contest. The Labour spin machine knows that the results are bad but they demonstrate that Corbyn still has support within the membership and if Sadiq Khan is elected later today, this will be cemented further.
It’s noticeable that the Conservatives have remained relatively quiet on the airwaves. As the governing party, they will be delighted to have done as well as they have, but to lose London will be seen as a major blow. Andrew Boff, the Conservative group leader on the Greater London assembly, has been quick to condemn Zac Goldsmith’s mayoral campaign, which has routinely and consistently painted Khan as having links to Islamic extremists; an approach that seems to have landed badly on the doorstep and with many of his Parliamentary colleagues.
The full results may not be in but some of the key takeaways are already apparent. Labour is wounded but not fatally, the SNP retains control in Scotland but will face questions over any potential attempt at another referendum, and the Conservatives will be pleased that the elections are out of the way without any substantial damage being done outside London.
Cicero Group’s full overview can be accessed online here.