Friday 3 May 2019
What goes around comes around. Following yesterday’s local elections, the Conservative Party are set to lose more than 1200 seats, a staggering collapse.
But this isn’t the usual tale of the party of government shedding support as the years roll by. The opposition has also haemorrhaged votes. As of this afternoon, Labour had suffered a net loss of more than 80 seats, a dreadful outcome for Jeremy Corbyn when you consider a gain of 100 was the worst they thought possible. Labour have also been relieved of control in Leave strongholds, Darlington (56% Leave in 2016), Cannock Chase (69%) and Burnley (67%). Change is in the air. About time!
Contrast this hammering to the LabCon axis with the 2017 general election when the Tories and Labour were handsomely rewarded with 82% of the vote share thanks to their pro-Brexit manifestos they’ve both since abandoned.
Had the Brexit Party – currently polling at 30%, extraordinary for a brand new party – participated, the Tories would have most surely been annihilated. Undeterred by the absence of BP candidates on their ballot sheets thousands of patriotic voters jotted down demands for a sovereign withdrawal from the EU under Nigel Farage (see below). “The politicians in Westminster have a choice. Either we leave, or @brexitparty_uk will make them leave!” tweeted Nigel yesterday. Spot on.
These local elections will not go down as an isolated incident, swept under the carpet as the Tories struggle to explain a truly historic drubbing. European elections take place in only three weeks’ time on a proportional basis and everyone gets to vote.
The Brexit Party is fielding top of the line candidates. Given the shambles the government has made of EU withdrawal and Labour’s spineless fudging over a second referendum, they will win big.
Then, on 6 June – the 75th anniversary of D-Day appropriately – Farage’s party will field a candidate at the Peterborough by-election where 61% of voters opted for leave in 2016. A golden opportunity to take the establishment to the sword.
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Naturally, the arrogant pro-Remain media is talking up the resurgence of the Liberal Democrats, who have so far taken back a few more seats than they lost the last time in 2015, when turnout was higher thanks to the general election. Back then, the unashamedly the pro-EU party got a much-deserved pummelling following five years as the Tories’ craven partner in government. Without that baggage they’ve been able to bring their considerable resources and local campaigning nous to bear and exploit the popular appetite for protest.
No need to be too charitable though. The collapse of Labour and the Conservatives means votes are there to be won. Astonishingly, independent candidates account for a quarter of the vote compared to the Lib Dems’ 19%. We may be approaching a revolution in the way voters see parties. Loyalty is no longer unconditional. If parties commit betrayal as has been the case with Brexit, the recriminations will be more damaging, and longer lasting.
British politics is getting a much-needed shake-up. We need leadership in Westminster. Step forward, Mr Farage.