Labour does rather better in the other election – what does it mean?

What is going on? While all eyes have (quite justifiably) been on the general election, Labour has been picking up seats in the local elections.

They’ve so far gained five councils from the Lib Dems, Tories and no overall control: Coventry, Doncaster, Enfield, Doncaster, Hartlepool and – perhaps iconically, Liverpool, which was the seat of Militant Labour in the 1980s before being taken over by Lib Dems in 1998 and held by them ever since.

The Conservatives have so far lost four councils and the Lib Dems one. Nor result as yet in Barking and Dagenham, where it was feared by other parties that the British National Party could take over their first council.

I’ve had a message from Cllr David Sparks, Labour’s local government leader, saying that “the future of socialism lies in globalism” and this is borne out by the “good showing” locally. I’m going to try and unpack that statement a little later.

Update, Saturday 8: With all but seven results in, the picture’s clear. Labour have gained 15 councils, the Tories lost eight and the Lib Dems four. No overall control lost three.

Most fascinatingly, the BNP lost ALL their seats on Barking and Dagenham council instead of (as many/most anti-BNP campaigners thought) winning overall control. Other small parties also lost council seats.

What this seems to mean is that people are not actually fed up with what they think the Labour Party stands for; they may even quite like their policies, at least local ones. But they’re not prepared, on the whole, to keep Labour/Gordon Brown in power at Westminster.

However much disillusionment with politics there is, it hasn’t translated into a) low turnout or b) voting for alternative parties (not even Lib Dems). Perhaps people are far more scared than disilusioned? Just a thought.

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