Much is already being made by the media this morning of Labour losing control of several Welsh councils, as if that’s the main story emerging from Wales this morning as results come in.
It’s certainly a part of it and not something Labour would have wished, but the situation is far more nuanced than the headlines are suggesting.
One thing that can be discerned from the lost control of Merthyr and BG is that it’s not a Tory-driven phenomenon, as the Daily Mirror’s Ben Glaze observed this morning:
it is the independents – many of whom are former Labour members and back socialist policies – who have hurt Labour.
Results in many of the lost councils have been skewed by defections from Labour to Independents – seen in the fact that most have become ‘no overall control’ – but as Glaze pointed out, the defections appear to have been caused by councillors’ objections to the behaviour of so-called ‘moderates’.
And the voters followed them, electing socialist independents in preference to ‘moderate’ Labour. The moaning of one defeated anti-Corbyn Labour councillor on TV this morning illustrated why this is likely to have happened.
In other areas that have not seen right-wing die-hards causing the independent candidate phenomenon, Labour has performed strongly, reflecting an energetic Labour campaign.
The party increased its majority in Swansea, performing strongly Cardiff and held Newport comfortably.
Both Merthyr and BG were 2012 Labour gains and had been solidly Independent-controlled prior to that. There is a long history of Independent support on both councils, making any read-across to General Election results broadly meaningless – especially when many of the successful Independent candidates are former Labour councillors more closely aligned with Jeremy Corbyn than with the Labour candidates they defeated.
What Tory gains there were appear to have been driven by the complete collapse of the UKIP vote. So far, not a single UKIP seat has been held anywhere in the UK – and the flight of UKIP supporters to the Tories shows any claims UKIP ever made to be a party for ordinary working people to have been utter nonsense.
Of course, this is not how the BBC is presenting it this morning. Pretence of impartiality appears to have been abandoned to the extent that one reporter called a rumoured Tory win in Northumberland ‘an exciting result’ and was then clearly disappointed when the Tories had in fact failed to take control.
A few results in Wales have still to come in. The SKWAWKBOX will cover results in other parts of the UK when all results have been declared.
For now, as far as context in Wales and the contrast with media representation is concerned, we’ll let one well-informed Tweeter have the last word:
Labour lost Cardiff Council in 2004 when Blair led party. Lost in again in 2008 under Gordon Brown. Won it comfortably last night.
— Nicholas Quinn (@friendofjeremy) May 5, 2017
The SKWAWKBOX is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you found this information helpful and can afford to, please do click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your support so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.