3 reasons #LE2019 results did not show Remain dominant

‘Mainstream’ media presenting local election results as confirmation UK has swung to remain/new referendum. There are several compelling reasons they do not


The so-called ‘mainstream’ media have been guilty of gross – and scandalous – misrepresentation of this week’s local election results in their portrayal of a handful of Labour losses as equivalent to the worst Tory results in a generation.

But that’s not their only misrepresentation – at least as far as the more liberal part of the media is concerned.

Graphical representations of the results have focused on gains and losses – additional councillors won or existing councillors lost – to support a narrative by the BBC and others that the results indicate a swing toward a remain position among the population.

But gains and losses only tell a part of the picture. The numbers – and an acknowledged expert on the numbers – tell a different story. Below are three reasons the local election results disagree with the narrative of the BBC and liberal media.

Councillors in place

Gains and losses tell part of the story – and are all that the BBC’s results page has depicted in as a chart graphic – but the number of council seats won overall are an important part of a balanced understanding of the results. And a compelling part – as the chart of the total seats won by party reveals:

This week’s elections were weighted heavily toward the ‘Tory shires’ – and the Tories held the majority of seats before voting began.

After all results were declared, the Tories had lost over 1,300 councillors – their worst results since 1995. They lost an enormous 27% of their councillors – but still retained 73% of what they had before, over 3,500 councillors.

Labour lost less than 4% of their councillors – and now have over 2,000 councillors in the seats contested this week.

Both Labour and the Tories have a policy commitment to respect the 2016 referendum result. Over 5,500 councillors represent parties whose declared position is to enact Brexit.

And in fact the number is considerably higher. There are now almost 1,200 independent councillors – many of whom were formerly UKIP candidates who left that party because of its swing to the extreme right, but who are still committed to Brexit and would probably have represented the new Brexit Party had it been formed in time to stand candidates this week.

By contrast, the Greens and LibDems combined now have 1,615 councillors in the seats contested on Thursday – fewer than a third of the total of those respecting the referendum result, even excluding the pro-Brexit independents.

Who gained what

When looking at gains, the independent candidates are also relevant. Of the council seats gained from other parties, the LibDems won 45% and the Greens 12% – but the predominantly pro-Brexit independents won 42%:

The expert’s view

John Curtice talking to Radio 4 on Friday morning

Highly-respected elections expert John Curtice looked at the results this week – and concluded that gains for the pro-remain LibDems were a result of their rehabilitation as a ‘protest vote’ party and not a manifestation of some surging remain sentiment:

Curtice told Radio 4’s Today programme:

The Liberal Democrats used to be the traditional party of protest, and then they went into coalition with the Conservatives and they rather lost that mantle.

It looks as though they are beginning to recover that mantle, particularly in areas where until recently they had quite a lot of strength.

But when you actually look, is there any evidence that the Liberal Democrats are doing better in remain areas than in leave areas? The truth is that the evidence seems to be lacking.

So it seems easier to interpret this as evidence of Liberal Democrats recovering from the coalition, being the party of protest, and that’s the basis of their success, rather than necessarily a rush of enthusiasm for the idea of a second EU referendum.


The ‘mainstream’ media’s fundamental dishonesty has been writ large over the last two days – and centrist politicians have been transparent in their attempts to amplify and exploit a narrative that turns out to be unsupported.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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  1. The turnout was very low. Did the Tory voters abstain to some extent as well?

    1. I think they did, Sarah. I base my answer on the fury and disgust I’ve read on Tory websites since March 29th. Life-long, committed Tory voters are using words like ‘traitor’ and ‘despot’ to describe their leader. They are desperate to get rid of her and deeply contemptuous of the sycophantic cabal that keeps her in power. Many of them wrote that they would abstain or spoil their ballot papers in revenge.

  2. I just checked out the Jewish Voice for Labour website and, as such, came across several articles about Jeremy Corbyn’s foreword to the 2011 new edition of Hobson’s book about imperialism, and one of them reproduces a letter by the president of the Board of Deputies (on May 1st) to Jeremy AND his response (on May 2nd). If you don’t want to read the whole article, scroll down the page and they are immediately after the Skwawkbox post on the subject, which they have also included in the article (you may have to enlarge the letters to read them):


    NB And needless to say, Jeremy didn’t “oppose” the removal of the mural by Mear One, and he did not describe “a group of British Jews” as having no sense of irony, and he was not present at a wreath-laying ceremony for terrorists who murdered Israeli Jews, and he did not try to “dilute” the IHRA definition of anti-semitism, all of which Marie van der Zyl – the president of the Board of Deputies – includes in her letter, and obviously did so to amuse herself and her colleagues on the one hand, and so as to try and wind up Jeremy on the other.

    1. Well worth subscribing to their posts Allan. Almost always well worth a read. Objective and well argued. And you learn a lot about jewish culture and political history.

  3. You have missed out perhaps the most compelling argument of all.

    The Lib Dems polled a national equivalent of 19%, according to the BBC results page. Add in the Greens, and you might be looking at around 25%.

    Labour, the Tories and UKIP between them polled around 60%, and as you rightly note, many of the Independents are likely to be pro-Brexit.

    I don’t think it could be considered usual to declare a position which loses a vote by 3-1 as a landslide endorsement of that position.

    I’m a remainer myself. But I am getting utterly sick of the wishful thinking being applied by the Remain side to this result. It does our cause no end of harm.

    1. I’m in the same boat Ultraviolet,and thanks for a sensible article Skwawky.We will have to deliver some sort of Brexit ,let’s all get together and deliver the best possible deal,that does the least damage to the prospects of ordinary people.

      1. “the best possible deal,that does the least damage to the prospects of ordinary people.”

        I think the promise of immiseration as OK because it’s a socialist immiseration won’t be a great selling point.

      2. @RH The problem is that, despite many loud denials, the people aren’t buying what you are selling, RH.

      3. “The best possible deal, that does the least damage to the prospects of working people” would be one which gives the next Labour government freedom of economic management over State monopoly, industrial aid and public procurement, so that we can have a truly radical, dynamic economic programme to pursue the interests of working class people. Such a programme, to be effective, would need to be based on a very substantial extension of public ownership.

        What is demonstrably NOT in the interests of working people is for Labour simply to manage capitalism as happened under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown – with catastrophic consequences in the form of the Banking Crisis, the resulting sharp increase in inequality and over a decade of harsh austerity.

        It would not be terribly difficult for Corbyn, McDonnell and Long-Bailey et al., to put forward democratic socialist demands (over EU law on marketization/liberalisation, State aids and procurement) as part of negotiations, whether with the Tories or with the EU.

        The problem, however, to be quite brutal, is that the Labour Left (not least its small PLP contingent but I suspect much of its extra-parliamentary cohort too) now appears not to desire a democratic socialist economic programme at all. It seems to believe that, to use Mrs Thatcher’s phrase, “There Is No Alternative” to capitalism – the same position as the rest of the governing elite.

        This is why socialists should find the recent talk of “getting Brexit over and done with” rather alarming, if it means settling for a Tory-Labour “bipartisan” deal which includes adherence to the so-called “level playing field” regime, whereby Labour cannot lawfully pursue a democratic socialist programme. To do so would truly be a crime against the working class.

      4. Ultraviolet :

        “the people aren’t buying what you are selling”

        I’m not ‘selling’ anything – just observing that the current Labour strategy has failed to attract voters.

        Of course, in this situation, there is no such entity as ‘the’ people. The electorate continues to be totally split on the Brexit issue that never commanded real majority consent. That wasn’t Labour’s fault – it was a Tory ploy with Tory aims that blew up in their own faces. Labour’s problem has been a failure to harness the opposition.

        But – for your own sake, don’t use the Faragist term ‘The People’ – it immediately places utterances in the area of fiction.

        As to the reality – as I’ve posted elsewhere, in this area, the hard fact of votes gives Greens + LibDems half again as many votes as Labour overall. That’s not an election winning picture.

      5. What about a deal that delivers NO damage to the prospects of ordinary people? i.e. kick Brexit into touch.

      6. @Danny a level playing field looks most likely…

        @Jack be honest. You mean no damage to _your_ prospects. After all, it’s obvious that you’re not a minimum wage worker competing against imported cheap labour, otherwise you’d be singing a different song.

        And before you blame our government, and shield the EU, remember that both major parties have put people after profits. The solution is to take away the ability to ship in cheap labour as business pleases.

        Wages have risen since brexit, a fact foretold by Sir Stuart Rose to business leaders. He wasn’t telling them for our benefits…

    2. quite right Ultraviolet. There are many on this site and others who are locked into their own personal perspective of Brexit. Politics, however, is an unemotional management of the facts. It is clear to me now that May chose to position her deal as close to the centre ground as she was able to, to get popular support. Labour, with clearly the best political team in the country, positioned their deal even closer to the centre. Since then, there has been an impasse. Labour has boxed May into a corner. If she stays where she is, Labour wins a potential election. If she bolts for cover (in the direction of a full Brexit, the only way she can go), then Labour will probably shift to a full remain and will win. There would be massive losses in ‘the labour heartlands’, but will win more in the ‘Tory heartlands’. Labour’s control of the situation without any real power or control over the strings of government is masterful.

      1. The ‘Labour heartlands’ are actually the full-fat Remain territory. Even before the current dog’s dinner emerged, *no* category – by age, social class, region. etc. etc.- of the Labour vote showed a Leave preference.

    3. “Wages have risen since brexit”

      F. me : we’ll have ‘Sheffield United promotion correlates with Brexit’ as the next headline.

  4. Dream on, Skwawkbox. Straw man argument.


    I can’t recall anyone saying that they did. They merely showed the lack of effectiveness of the current Labour leave ‘strategy’, with a significant part of the potential vote leaking to the LibDems and Greens.

    Beyond that, the country shows the country split down the middle, and Labour not benefitting from the Tory collapse.

    That fact was illustrated by a four-way conversation I had yesterday evening. I was the only one among these normally automatic Labour voters defending the position of voting for the Party.

  5. Cameron’s majority in 2015 was won on the back of the LD collapse in England/Wales and Labour’s collapse in Scotland after the failure of the IndyRef. The SNP overwhelmingly removed Labour MPs and Tories took former LD seats when Labour voters, who had previously voted LD tactically, withdrew their support. No-one was more surprised than Cameron by his success.

    Scotland remains a SNP stronghold but ironically the revival of the LDs is good news for LP in a GE because they will serve to take Tory MPs out in LD/Tory marginals and to split the vote in Labour/Tory marginals.

    Drawing many firm conclusions from local elections which are in predominantly rural (ie Tory) areas is aways a bit of a longshot. Clearly, there has been a huge rejection of the Tories but without knowing the composition of those who stayed at home, local factors, the manifestos of the independents, it isn’t possible to drill down into the figures. However, it is another indicator that the Tories are in (possibly terminal) decline.

    It is also clear that a substantial percentage of former Leave voters in Labour constituencies have been turned off Labour by the whole second referendum thing. They stayed home or voted against. The anger is palpable.

    Labour politicians pushing for a ‘confirmatory vote’ have IMO (intentionally) done a huge amount of damage to the party and the democratic process. But at the very least, we need the Labour leadership to communicate much more often and more effectively. The social media campaign on Labour’s policies is great but they also need to address the Brexit issues head-on.

    1. “No-one was more surprised than Cameron by his success.”

      True. That helps to explain why Clegg held his seat. The Conservative vote in his constituency fell 9.9% in 2015 and recovered by a similar amount in 2017. Cameron thought he would still need Clegg. He also probably thought that the EU referendum pledge would not have to be honoured .

      Incidentally, Cameron’s ‘two terms only’ pledge was a disastrous gaffe which threatened to wreck the Conservative campaign.
      But it came to nothing because only Conservative strategists understood its significance.

      If John Golding had still been around, he might well have spotted it.
      In his book ‘Hammer of the Left’ he refers to a similar gaffe by Michael Foot in 1983.

    2. “Labour politicians pushing for a ‘confirmatory vote’ have IMO (intentionally) done a huge amount of damage to the party and the democratic process.”

      Come off it. Two thirds of the nation the nation didn’t assent to Brexit, and it is probable that a simple majority would now oppose it.

      Labour votes have drifted consistently to the LibDems and Greens – and you suggest that speaking for this half of the nation, and encouraging a democratic process is ‘undemocratic’.

      Bloody funny idea of ‘democracy’!

      What is ridiculous is this attempt to blame the current poor showing of Labour on anything other than actual policy, because it doesn’t suit the preconceptions.

      No what’s going on isn’t simple or one-dimensional, but the one thing that is certain is that it isn’t down to arguments within the Party about *not* shadowing the Tories!

  6. Interesting how all MSM, especially the BBC, has become ‘Green’. Now Attenborough’s ‘Blue Planet’ coincides with a visit from a photogenic 16 year old Swedish girl who can explain how we pollute the world.

    No coincidence that the ‘Green Party’ has done so well in the local elections & no coincidence that it is full of bourgeois Remainers. The future should be ‘Green’ & not ‘Orange’ & the Labour Party has a lot to learn about promoting itself via ‘Green Issues’. Locally building on flood plains does not help! More concrete & tarmac on Green Belt land will not save the planet.

    Green technology & innovation is the future & GB must lead the world , not leave it to the Chinese.

    1. And the last thing we want or need is GM crops, cos once THAT genie is out of the bottle, there’s no putting it back. And it isn’t just GM crops any more, but also GM trees and GM animals/fish etc.

      1. Absolutely right.

        Think about how much land is used to grow a poison—tobacco.

        From memory, I seem to remember that some years ago the then governor of North Carolina, Parris Glendening, set up a study group to help wean his state off tobacco.

        I do not know how far it got but considerable credit to him for trying.

  7. There is no doubt whatsoever that the BBC and the rest of the MSM went into spin overload about the “huge losses” sustained by ” both main parties” thereby equating our loss of 77 seats to the Tory loss of over 1300. But then that’s what we have come to expect isn’t it – no chance whatsoever of fair or impartial reporting of the facts.
    Regarding the outcome of the elections, there are a few points that I think are worth mentioning.
    The elections were held in Tory strongholds where many Tories are clearly disillusioned with the present government . There was a low turnout indicating that although angry with the government they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for another party so they stayed at home instead.
    Some of them voted Lib Dem – in my opinion this was probably a protest vote rather than an endorsement of Lib Dem policy.
    We sustained a small number of losses but given the relentless and ongoing character assassination campaign waged daily against our leader and the leadership team this is unsurprising -there will always be gullible people who swallow whole MSM propaganda.
    I think however that these results show that generally speaking the mud that is flung at us every day has not stuck and there is support for our approach to Brexit – an orderly jobs first exit.

  8. “There is no doubt whatsoever that the BBC and the rest of the MSM ….” etc.

    smartboy – Please stop bleating. The bias of the MSM isn’t anything new. The bias against Corbyn has been immense. The bias that supported the Brexit agenda was also immense.

    But none of this is the point.

    Thing is, Labour has a problem above and beyond this bias, which supporters tend to factor in (it’s the Kippers etc. that don’t).

    When I see the Greens+LibDems polling half again as many votes as Labour, I see problems – and it’s not a problem down to an internal argument about Brexit, and the majority view within the Party.

    This is a rough composite outline of what I hear from a lot of people who will never vote Tory, UKIP or Brexit and *want* to vote Labour :

    – “Corbyn : Basically a really good guy. Great ideas on the domestic front – just what is needed. Anisemitism? – pure bollocks; right wing propaganda. Leadership? – could do better – but everyone has to learn…. But Brexit ? F’ing useless. Stupid and on the wrong side of the argument – we don’t need two parties pushing Tory policy. I’ll probably vote Green; I’m not lining up with Kipper twats.”

    1. You are a staunch remainer and stopping Brexit appears to be your preoccupation at this time. However most of our members want to respect the outcome of the referendum and work for a soft jobs first Brexit.
      That position ,while it is rejected by ardent leavers and remainers, is supported by most reasonable people who are prepared to compromise in order to bring an end to this Brexit fiasco and allow us to concentrate on our domestic agenda.

  9. I do not want to go on about the illegality es within the processes of the referendum, but just want to ask if you think we have to respect illegal law breaking actions which occurred and have been proven. Does the end justify the means?

    An analogy that comes to mind is as follows:
    3 years ago I decided to shoot myself in the foot. And I told my mates about this. 3 years on and I have great misgivings about it as I realised that I cause myself great harm if I go through. I tell my mates that I have changed my mind, but all I get to hear is that I have to get on with it. Why do my mates nit respect my change of mind?

    Another point is that who provides the jobs, because many companies are winding down to leave and even the most vocal propagandists of brexit have left the country with all their ill acquired riches.

    Where is the money to implement policies coming from?

    1. If you don’t want to go on about illegalities, why bring it up?

      I didn’t shoot myself in the foot. I shot the people making my life harder. And my kids lives too… (I don’t care about you and yours. I’ve been painfully educated that there’s no such thing as society. Sorry)

      My vote is _not_ going to make my life harder. It may make your life harder (sorry, see above), but in the big picture of things I sincerely doubt you’ve ever me or my ilk a thought previously…

      And if you happen to be correct? Then oh well! I’ve managed to go out my way, from my choices (which will be a first!)

      To finish, the only ones bleating about changed minds, are those that lost to begin with. Naughty naughty…

      1. “I shot the people making my life harder.”

        No you didn’t. You dreamed that you did. But Rees Mogg, Johnson et al. are doing very well, thank you.

        Dream on – the ERG will appreciate it.

      2. If anyone is a dreamer RH, it’s you.

        You see, I’m well aware that the game is rigged, that the table is titled. The thing is, I’m thoroughly fed up with poker, and want blackjack, backgammon or roulette.

        Yes, the game will still be rigged, but at least it won’t be poker anymore.

        I shot the people making my life harder. The ones exploiting the poker game. That they (and yourself), are bleating so hard, tells me I made the right choice.

        You keep dreaming of staying in the EU.

  10. As sure as night follows day, the more that hardline remainers demand the largest mandate in British history is overturned the more they harden the leave vote.

    I voted remain but respect the result because I am a democratic socialist. I’m sick to death of the remain campaign, I am bored to tears of them and their constant whining. I would vote leave if they forced another vote in order to ensure the original result is upheld.

    It is all over now for the People’s Vote campaign. They are like the Japanese soldiers who never realised WWII had ended.

      1. “Absolutely nothing” is a revision too far.
        The suicidal determination of Japanese troops and even civilians in the island campaigns was noted and those campaigns had cost many American lives.
        Victory in those battles being so hard won an early Japanese surrender could not be assumed when the mainland was invaded.
        Any US government would have deservedly been criticised and likely would have fallen if it had later been discovered that a secret super-weapon could have ended the war and saved thousands of American lives but wasn’t deployed because of fear of Japanese civilian casualties.
        Russia was thought likely soon to become a far greater enemy than Japan – it was thought use of the bomb would prevent war with Russia and it’s far from certain that it didn’t – Russia could easily have overrun battle-weary Europe.
        I’m no fan of US militarism but I have the advantage of hindsight – and Japanese militarism was undeniably worse.
        US military figures criticised use of the bomb out of fear that it would mean the end of the army – humanitarian concern over Japanese casualties before the bomb was dropped was rarer than rocking-horse shit.

      2. Also, Soviet Union had just entered the war against Japan and invaded Manchuria.

  11. … and I voted Remain, and have supported the actual result – which showed no majority of the electorate supporting ‘Leave’. Just like I don’t ‘respect’ the Tories, I don’t ‘respect’ their policies.

  12. David McNiven:

    “The suicidal determination of Japanese troops and even civilians in the island campaigns was noted and those campaigns had cost many American lives.
    Victory in those battles being so hard won an early Japanese surrender could not be assumed when the mainland was invaded.”

    But their leaders had not commanded them to surrender at that point though. Once the Emperor knew his position was secure, he ordered the surrender which the troops obeyed.

    1. Tony, US leadership would have needed wild optimism or uncanny prescience to believe that the Emperor would order a surrender subject only to a promise of his personal position being secured – and the surrender wasn’t announced until Aug 15, 6 days after Nagasaki and 9 days after Hiroshima, the same day Russia invaded Manchuria.
      Japan had been asking Russia prior to the invasion to negotiate with the Allies on its behalf a favourable peace treaty, which could have left Japan’s militaristic leadership and its remaining forces in place.
      To save Japanese face who knows what captured territory would have been argued over.
      Of course Russia’s invasion would have been significant to Japan’s decision – but the invasion wasn’t anticipated by the allies before Aug 6 or even Aug 9 as far as I’m aware.
      History always being written by the winners though, one can never be certain.
      None of this affects my opposition to nuclear weapons but one has to allow the past its own values.

  13. Sorry, “6 days after Nagasaki and 9 days after Hiroshima, the same day Russia invaded Manchuria.” should read
    “9 days after Hiroshima and 6 days after Nagasaki on Aug 9, the same day Russia invaded Manchuria.”

    1. Good to see someone being careful with the facts at the moment David!

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