The Euro Election choice
The Liberal Democrats are back as a credible force in British politics following last week’s local elections. Because of this it is vital that everybody who opposes Brexit or at least wants the people to have a final say, votes Lib Dem in the Euro elections. Support for the Greens or Change UK will confuse the issue and allow leavers to point to Farage’s vote (that could be 30%) as effectively a second national vote to Leave.
The Green Party deserves support in subsequent elections as concern about the environment rises, but on May 23, the future of the country is at stake and there needs to be huge support for the Lib Dems with their clear, principled and long-standing commitment to remain.
Change UK are a major disappointment. They are engaging in sectarian politics in the centre ground claiming the Lib Dems are still tainted with the austerity agenda. Well some of their Labour MPs voted for the Iraq War so two can play that irrelevant blame game. They have no infrastructure to fight elections compared to the Lib Dems and should not be supported in these Euro elections.
The Conservative and Labour parties should be rejected as their leaders are in favour of leaving the EU.
“Bailing out the Tories”
Shadow Cabinet member Barry Gardner let the cat out of the bag the other day when he told the Tories, Labour was trying to bail them out over Brexit. So, there we have it, hard left Jeremy Corbyn saving the Tories who are in their biggest crisis since the Corn Laws.
As I write the Lab/Con talks haven’t reached a conclusion but Corbyn is desperate to get back to the domestic agenda. I was in the Commons Gallery for PMQ’s on Wednesday where Corbyn didn’t ask a single question on Brexit preferring to concentrate on the health service. Don’t rule out the Labour leadership deciding to take the hit from their People’s Vote MPs and, insofar as they are able, letting May’s deal go through.
Local election verdict in the North
It was the worst result for the Tories since 1995 when even the old Macclesfield Council went into no overall control. The successor authority Cheshire East followed suit last Thursday along with Pendle and South Ribble. In fairness the Conservatives were coming off the high base achieved on the day David Cameron (remember him?) won his General Election and more importantly the Brexit shambles has been deeply damaging for the Tories.
Although the losses were less, it was a bad night for Labour, with the important exception of Trafford. Their 1995 local government performance was a springboard for Blair’s landslide two years later. Losing control of Wirral, Cheshire West and Chester and Burnley and losing ground in places like Bolton shows Labour is not on course to win the General Election, Jeremy Corbyn says he wants. Further afield Labour’s showing in the North East is truly dreadful.
Labour are paying the price for their ambiguity on a People’s Vote and on internal splits, particularly on Merseyside. The loss of Wirral is down to Momentum activity but in Liverpool it is perhaps more to do with personalities. The attempt by council deputy leader Ann O’Byrne to abolish the elected mayor post of Joe Anderson revives memories of the dark days of Liverpool politics.
The Lib Dems improved their position across the North West but only came close to taking a council, apart from South Lakeland, when they drew level with Labour in Stockport.
Independents had their best showing in decades. They benefitted from a growing disillusionment with conventional politics and a desire for more power at the grassroots level. I would only say that if all the small communities in a council area elected people demanding special treatment for their area, coherent government would be difficult. There is a view, however, that council politics should be less political, so perhaps it is a healthy trend.