Labour lost 74 council seats net to date. 70 were in working-class leave areas

Vast majority of Labour’s net loss so far was in strong working-class leave areas


Politicians and media are putting their preferred spin on the results declared so far from last night’s local elections, with most suggesting the LibDems’ and Greens’ improved performance from a low base in 2015 shows the strength of remain feeling.

The LibDems’ wins have been mainly in areas where they are traditionally the Tories’ main opposition, making them the natural beneficiaries of an anti-Tory protest vote.

But as far as the results have affected Labour tonight – apart from a few results where well-known local issues have driven losses to ‘protest’ parties – the message seems clear.

As of the time of writing, Labour’s net loss has been seventy-four seats. Labour’s net losses in seven working-class areas that voted strongly to leave the EU in 2016 make up seventy:

  • Ashfield -20
  • Bolsover -14
  • Sunderland -12
  • Barnsley -7
  • Bolton -7
  • Stoke -5
  • Hartlepool -5

Barnsley’s Labour council leader was as emphatic as his Sunderland counterpart last night about the reasons for the party’s losses in the town:

Election expert John Curtice agreed, observing that Labour’s losses in working-class heartlands were driven by votes moving to UKIP and to pro-Brexit independent candidates.

Whatever is happening in areas where the Tories and LibDems traditionally fight it out, Labour’s working-class heartlands that voted leave are sending a clear signal to the party to respect their choice in the referendum.

Labour’s net loss is falling as more results come in, down from eight-five an hour ago.

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  1. I understand less than half the results are in so far.
    How will this analysis be affected if, when all the results are in, Labour shows overall gains, Tories overall losses and others not enough wins to matter?
    My only point is that it might be a bit early to draw conclusions.

    1. You are simply beyond reason, David. The evidence could not be clearer that supporting another referendum damages our electoral base.

      Stop banging your head against a brick wall and start accepting political reality.

      Hardline remainers are damaging the electability of the Labour, that is just a matter of fact.

      They will lose Labour the next election if they continue to refuse to accept the largest democratic mandate in British history.

      1. Labour losses are down to 73 from 76 an hour ago and Tory losses are up from 450 to 478.
        It’s not over.

      2. “The evidence could not be clearer that supporting another referendum damages our electoral base.”

        There is no such evidence – even unclear evidence.

        The country is split. Labour is also split, but remains a Remain party fronted by a Leave policy. Here, the LibDems and Greens have picked up votes and seats, whilst Labour has lost a few seats. UKIP lost their one seat – although still picking up the racist vote in some areas.

      3. Whilst it is undoubtedly true that the working class traditional voter base of Labour in the North , Midlands and Wales, support Brexit (which means a lot of different things – from an end to unlimited labour supply to a hope for an end to Austerity – for which the EU has become a totemic symbol) . BUT, a big BUT, in a rotten borough multi generational Labour Council area like Barnsley (where I worked for many years) for 20 years long council Leader, Sir Steve Houghton , who has carried out a swingeing programme of cuts to council services for the Tories , to claim that Labour’s electoral problem “is all about Brexit” is a joke. It’s an excuse by a careerist Labour local government long-term claque across England for their failure to fight Tory cuts – and hence retain the loyalty of their voter base !

    2. The FT has done a really nifty chart showing gains/losses per party banded by referendum leave% for the local authority area. Shows Labour councillor losses almost entirely in strong leave areas, backing up SB’s point. Luckily Ben Goldacre tweeted the chart as FT website needs a subscription – well worth a look:


      The FT article also said:

      “The vote for [Labour] held up well in majority-Remain areas, but in areas where 60 per cent or more had voted to Leave Labour lost six per cent of its councillors.

      In areas that were 70 per cent or more Leave, Labour losses more than doubled to 19 per cent. Overall, eight of the nine councils where Labour lost control were in areas where a majority voted in 2016 for Leave.”

    1. I also saw Jo Swinson fail to reject austerity during an interview, although not explicitly.
      If they apologised for it or said it was a mistake, maybe… nah, just kidding.
      They can still get fucked.

  2. It was not a great night and we lost some very good Councillors, Brexit looms large and the frauds from the LDs again took advantage of the situation, Our biggest problem is the reporting of our position on Brexit and the problem we have balancing between those in the leave seats who who make up 64% of Labour constituencies and the 60% of Labour supporters in the metropolitan areas who want to remain, Labour’s problem is while dealing with Brexit with pragmatism they are not coming accross in our heartlands as coherent and falling between two stools, I honestly don’t know the answer but we will go further back if we don’t sort it soon.

    1. I rather wonder if the only answer is to keep weathering the storm, let the Tories carry the can for Brexit happening or not happening, and then relying on having very popular domestic policies for whatever the position is afterwards.

      That approach is only a problem if a general election happens before Brexit is sorted!

      I honestly can’t see how coming out in support of remaining wouldn’t have made things a whole lot worse across the north and Midlands, without delivering sufficient countervailing benefits down south.

      But the reverse is probably also true, which is why the current fudge, unpalatable as it is, may genuinely be the best available option.

    2. ” the 60% of Labour supporters in the metropolitan areas”

      … No – not just in the metropolitan areas. That’s Labour voters *overall*, and in all categories. (see UCL research)

      1. Sorry I wasn’t as clear as I should have been, you are of course correct but the % of remain Labour vote is very much lifted in the metropoolitan areas

  3. Looks to me like all the lies from the msm and the tories have stuck like diarrhea to a shag carpet. Just goes to show that you can manufacture any old bullshite and the majority of the public lap it up. They haven’t learned anything.

  4. Walsall has also had a loss of two Labour seats. Bloxwich East pretty much fits the leave-voting pattern. Birchills-Leamore is maybe a bit trickier – Muslim Tory takes seat from long-serving white Labour councillor.

  5. I was born in Bolton, and live in Bury. Bury was Labour held before yesterday, Bolton was hung due to a by-election last year, previously Labour run. Bury council recently passed a motion in support of a Confirmatory vote. Yesterday, both Labour and Conservative had a net loss of one in Bury, and Labour’s majority was reduced from 9 to 7. In Bolton, Labour lost three seats to the Tories (one of the seats, Breightmet, always has been a staunch Labour area, never previously held by any Party but Labour), and a local action group in Farnworth increased their amount of seats to five, all previous Labour held seats. Labour are the largest party now in Bolton with 23 seats, Tories 20, UKIP 3, others 11. Please feel free to draw your own conclusions.

  6. Just to add, both Bolton and Bury voted leave in 2016, both in the mid fifties.

  7. Predictable, given the appeasement by Corbyn on several fronts. People are discouraged by perceived weakness in the face of that which needs to be called out and fought toe to toe, in “mortal combat” when necessary.

    💥Bogus antisemitism
    💥Toxic Deputy Leader
    💥Rabid, EU, capitalist expansionism
    💥Blairite local councillors, feigning socialist “support”
    💥Blairite MPs, corroding Socialism from within

  8. Errr … Labour has had a policy of ‘honouring the referendum’, as we’re so frequently told. It has also not backed a confirmatory referendum. How that translates into an impulse for Leaver fllight requires a stretch of the imagination.

    Labour has been steadily losing vote share since the last election (down c.10%)

    The evidence of flight to the LibDems and Greens is rather more obvious, and likely to be Remainer flight.

    … and the electorate has a large component backing the Whethefukawe Party. Which has been obvious since the referendum – and before.

    … but, in actuality, the issues behind these results aren’t simple.

    1. Clearly it requires a stretch of your limited imagination. Not so much for the rest of us.

      Regardless of the official policy, you and many others within Labour who think like you have made it crystal clear you will fight tooth and nail to overturn the referendum result.

      It is hardly surprising if many leave voters don’t trust the party to hold firm against you.

      1. It’s not about ‘imagination’. It’s about reality – and the position of the large majority of the Labour vote.

        … and the Remain parties currently taking votes from Labour.

        P.S. The ‘referendum result’ showed a minority of th electorate favouring Brexit. At best, it might be considered a split vote.

        But above all, it’s about a stupid, damaging and extreme Tory idea – now proved as such. I can’t work out why any Labour supporter would be in favour of increased austerity.

    2. Damned either way, What happens to the 90% if we change stance? do the remainers then fly off somewhere? It is a no win situation for Labour, and why we are having problems furrowing the middle way.

      1. You have put your finger on the problem – which isn’t difficult unless you have a religious belief in Brexit, when it comes hard to recognize that half the country and the majority of Labour voters disagree with you – even in Leave voting areas.

        I’ve quoted John Curtice elsewhere, who says precisely this – and he’s as reliable a commentator as one can find.

        There are several analyses that suggest that the ‘win’ (if not overwhelming) for Labour is, however, to opt for Remain – and at least have opposition to the Tories and rationality on its side.

        The notion of conservative ‘working class’ areas being a ‘core’ Labour vote is nonsense on stilts. Coservative/Kipper votes are simply that.

  9. “John Curtice agreed, observing that Labour’s losses in working-class heartlands were driven by votes moving to UKIP and to pro-Brexit independent candidates.”

    Sqwawkbox up to MSM-type tricks again, making a partial and biased picture up on the hoof . As I’ve earlier posted, Curtice’s overall analysis (which is as trustworthy as any) is as follows :

    ” … on the Labour side the party has been losing both remain and leave voters. And in a sense therefore the problem with the fudge isn’t just necessarily that it does not deliver the Brexit the Labour leave voters are looking for, it doesn’t satisfy Labour remain voter either.”

    … and, of course, even in areas that voted Leave in the referendum (remember – a minority of Labour votes overall), the desertion by Remain voters will also be significant – it doesn’t just indicate a problem just with BLeavers.

    And the chances that proponents of a confirmatory referendum will buy that ‘shut up’ anti-democratic horse manure is zero. So get back to arguing the issues.

  10. Ashfield

    Did UKIP campaign hard in these ‘working class’ areas to convince voters that their woes were due to the EU not the Tory government?

    So… they did about as badly as each other, did they?
    Does it make any difference that Cons lost TEN TIMES more seats than Lab?
    CON -1068
    LAB -110

  12. Infantile BBC analysis arguing if this was a General Election Labour (and Tories) would get 28% what on a 31% turnout when GEs may be in 70s.
    So out of 8,000 Councillors up for election the Tories lost a staggering 1,000 (12.0125% or so) and Labour 100 (0.0125%).
    Labour’s problem is it has a great left wing democratic socialist leader who is honest and stands for something (a transformation of society) but he inherited 160 opportunist and 70 Blairite Neo-Liberal MPs with many of the latter undermining him from day one!
    Our policy should be Brexit, a customs union, democratic control labour & capital supply, migration adjustment funds for councils, and trade unionise migrant workers.
    I reluctantly voted remain to try to collectively break Neo-Liberalism through European socialist and trade union partners
    but that lost so we should have been clearer in accepting the result and carrying it out in a left wing democratic socialist direction which benefits diverse working people.
    You see it could be argued some have always been asking the wrong question – it is not In or Out but which of the two frameworks will help us build a left wing democratic socialist society as an example to the World?
    The public has spoken and it has to be through the framework of independent nation states – and as Brecht suggested if you disagree then you will have to find a new public.
    Perhaps if Labour had 270 left wing democratic socialists (putting the few political niaives of Love Socialism, Hate Brexit aside) perhaps we would have stormed home.
    The Labour Party I want is an alliance of the wonderful left working class and the wonderful progressive middle class but when it comes to the EC comrades I plead with you to think more critically – as cheap labour comes from the rest of Europe (and particularly the former so-called Communist counties) who is looking after their vulnerable people there, who is working their fields, working in health etc it could be argued some take a UK Centric View and by the way getting migrants here to join unions could help them gett better pay and conditions (including accommodation) as well as building community solidarity.
    Labour’s idea of job offers needed means we can take workers from anywhere in the World which is internationalist.
    And we can rebuild international cooperation built on our principles.
    Yours in international solidarity!

  13. Excellent news overall. The neoliberal vote is split between the Tories and Liberals, both support austerity so policy will stay the same and Labour offers the only opposition to Conservative policy. Expect change in the future, the electorate will not be served well by the neoliberals (I include the Greens in that group).

    1. “Excellent news overall.”

      Jeez, lundiel. I’ve heard of ‘whistling in the dark’ – but that’s turning somersaults in the pitch black near a cliff edge.

      1. But that’s all that Labour has done since Bliar got in #10…

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