No need to pretend that the Conservatives had a good evening. They have lost what little support they had left in London and, more worryingly, appear to be losing ground in the Tory counties they once called home.
But it was equally delusional for Sir Keir Starmer to suggest that Labour’s local election results were something of a ‘turning point’, unless it meant more people turning to the Liberal Democrats, Greens and independent outside the M25.
The way the Labor leader was carrying himself yesterday morning, you would have thought he was actually on course to win the next general election. If such a vote took place today, it is not even clear that he would lead the largest party in Parliament.
As polling guru Sir John Curtice pointed out yesterday morning, while Labor support had risen in the capital – which has now become a red “stronghold” – it may in fact have been “slightly down” in the rest from the country.
“Labour wanted to make the case all night that these local election results clearly demonstrate evidence of progress,” he told the BBC. ‘Yes, Labor have certainly made progress from last year,’ he added, ‘but last year was a very poor performance so to be four points ahead was not really surprising. So I think this is definitely not a local election performance that in any way indicates a party that is on track to win a general election with an overall majority.
It is worth pointing out that Labor has done relatively well in Wales and has had a few victories outside the capital. But it’s pretty clear that Starmer didn’t get anything close to the stunning win he envisioned.
What his lackluster performance outside the capital actually tells us is that voters don’t think the leader of the opposition is truly up to the job of prime minister.
It’s a damning accusation after 12 years of Tory rule, especially when the man presiding over the government is arguably the most controversial politician to ever grace the dispatch box.
The stark reality is that Starmer, having spent the last six months calling for Boris Johnson’s resignation and insisting that Britain ‘deserves better’, has failed to win the trust of Wall voters red. They seem to have discovered his lack of authenticity and his inability to communicate clearly and honestly.
With his self-proclaimed status as the Perfect Peter of Mr Johnson’s Horrid Henry, the MP for Holborn and St Pancras understandably caused a storm with the Metropolitan elite. The guys who want to cancel the “Islamophobic” books Biff, Chip and Kipper, who think women can have penises, that Winston Churchill was a racist and that free speech only applies to people who share your views . Chances are these people live in London and vote Labour.
Likewise, it’s no surprise that middle-class Remainiacs like former Tory MP Nick Boles voted Labor this week. Anyone who thought Brexit voters would be duped by a Norwegian-style deal that would have tied us to Brussels for decades would naturally be drawn to the remaining former leader. And the likes of Winchester College and Oxford graduate Mr Boles can afford to vote Labor in places like Wandsworth and Westminster. What do they care if council tax goes up?
But for the Silent Majority who consider Sir Keir more boring than a night of discussing ‘non-binary’ with a group of Durham University students, they will frankly vote for anyone but Labor .
Even if it means voting Lib Dem. That’s how desperate some people have become.
I couldn’t help but laugh at Daisy Cooper’s suggestion that ‘it’s the Liberal Democrats who can defeat the Tories and get Boris Johnson out of Downing Street’. The MP for St Albans forgets that many people in the Midlands and North will never, ever forget the illiberal and anti-democratic nature of the party’s attempts to reverse the Brexit referendum result – and rightly so.
If Sir Ed Davey is the answer (bless him) then I think we’d all like to know the question. It may be true that the Lib Dems are good at getting trash picked up, but it’s always worth remembering that they were the ones who called for the revocation of Section 50 in their manifesto for the 2019 general election, and who wanted frequent travelers taxed and cannabis legalized. They were fully supportive of HS2 until they cynically claimed they weren’t ahead of the Chesham and Amersham by-elections.
And those who voted for the Greens, the ultimate protest vote if ever there was one, may want to ask themselves whether they really support a massive increase in foreign aid spending and the creation of a “Ministry of peace”, as well as a 20 mph speed limit and that heroin is available by prescription.
I understand the Home Counties Tories are angry at partygate, but they have to be careful what they wish for.
And on that note, it’s pretty clear that beergate was also on voters’ minds as they entered the polls on Thursday. Starmer’s slyness on the whole issue blew a hole in his apparent “authenticity.” With Labor having initially lied about Deputy Leader Angela Rayner’s attendance at the beer and curry night, and amid continued confusion over whether or not it was a ‘work event’ or ‘party’, the opposition turned out to be just as bad as the conservatives with their stupid obfuscation. Now they face, like Downing Street, the cloud of a police investigation hanging over their heads for weeks or possibly months to come.
It may not have been such a major breach of Covid rules that Downing Street apparently turned into a Hacienda during the lockdown, but the fact that Labor may have been there too, apparently meeting and s amusing, rather undermines Starmer’s superiority. complex. Who knows, he might even be forced to resign himself.
The lack of political ideas is also as big a problem for Starmer as it is for Johnson. Sure, the Tories have run out of steam, but I think the public can probably determine Mr Johnson’s stance on Brexit (honor him), the NHS (tax people more to fund it), defense (be the Zelensky’s best friend) and education (T-Levels, innit?).
Conversely, voters would struggle to name Labor policies beyond the call for Mr Johnson to quit. And perhaps a windfall tax on energy companies, which sounds like a great idea until economists point out that it would deter big business from investing in Britain and stifle growth as we falter in the edge of another recession.
Just watch a Starmer interview for more than a few minutes and you’ll see that the Labor Party is devoid of anything vaguely interesting to say about anything. Instead, all the front seat seems to do is play some sort of nonsensical left-wing bingo every week, naming food banks and the cost of living crisis without actually providing any solutions.
The Conservative campaign headquarters should not, however, discount the prospect that quiet collaboration between Labour, the Lib Dems and other smaller parties could cause it serious electoral damage. The rumor on the ground is that informal pacts were held to give a party a free run for seats where a single opposition candidate was best placed to beat the Tories.
If he makes it to the next election, Starmer will fail to become prime minister on his own. But we could be heading for a horrible hung parliament in 2024 which could see Labor backed by the Lib Dems and the SNP. Nicola Sturgeon for Deputy Prime Minister, anyone? It would surely be the worst of all worlds.