6 May 2016

Elections 2016: A New London Mayor And UKIP's First Seats In Wales


On May 5th, the UK went to the polls. Well, some of the UK did. It was an abysmal turnout with Scotland recording the highest with just over 50 per cent. This undoubtedly had an effect on the results and puts British democracy into disrepute. For fair representation, we need a high turnout. Otherwise, the result will be screwed to the demographics who are more likely to vote; the elderly.

England

Labour were predicted to lose a number of councils. They didn’t. In fact, their vote share had increased by 2% since Jeremy Corbyn took over the party. The media doesn't see this as a good result for Labour as the opposition apparently should perform much better in local elections. However, they still won the most council seats and outperformed the Conservatives who performed 5% worse than the 2015 general election. This was expected due to the party split over the EU, the junior doctors strikes, the academy policy (which has now been dropped) and the Panama Papers. UKIP increased their share of the vote and picked up quite a lot of seats. The Lib Dems performed better than 2015 but not as well as they have done in previous years. The Greens also didn't perform as well as they'd hoped.

Labour also held Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough in the parliamentary by-election. This was 
expected and Labour actually increased their majority here.

Sadiq Khan is the new mayor of London. The Labour candidate sweet the floor with everyone else including Zac Goldsmith. Though many will congratulate Labour for this achievement, it should be known the Khan is a critic of Jeremy Corbyn and is no ally of the Labour leader. The press seems to tarnish them with the same brush but Khan is far more Blairite than Corbynite. Goldsmith’s campaign was plagued by Islamaphobia and never looked like winning the mayoralty. It is a good thing that Khan won but the real Labour candidate in this election was George Galloway. Unfortunately, he won a couple of percent of the vote and never polled very high at all. That may be because he was excluded from the hustings, television interviews and the election spotlight.

Wales

Labour lost their majority in Wales. But not by much. They are still the biggest party and can control the Welsh assembly with bipartisanship. UKIP won their first ever seats in the Wales which they took from Labour. This was a enormous breakthrough for UKIP and the highlight of their election. Plaid Cymru became the second biggest party after they gained one seat and the Conservatives lost three. There was a parliamentary by-election in another Labour stronghold of Ogmore. Labour retained the seat with little change to their majority. Overall, a fairly ordinary election in Wales but for the UKIP gains. The Greens failed to win any seats which was very disappointing for them.

Scotland

The SNP lost their majority. However, they still have fundamental control of Holyrood due to their work with the Greens who performed very well and gained 4 seats. Labour lost a third of their MSPs. They are now the third largest party as the Conservatives gained a huge 16 seats. Two of which were from Labour. The Conservative’s gains are attributed to their firm line of anti-independence whereas Labour evaded the question. The people of Scotland had a clear choice between the SNP and the Conservatives. The Lib Dems maintained their five seats. This is the third election in a row that has seen an SNP victory. It was a terrible result for Scottish Labour but also an expected one. They have a lot of work to do.

Northern Ireland

The counting continues as I write this. Though there doesn't look to be much change. The DUP are still the largest party with Sinn Féin in second.

Overall it has been a mediocre election for Labour. They maintained their councils in England, kept control of the Welsh Assembly (but lost their majority), finished third in Scotland, won two by-elections and won the London Mayoralty. If anything, Labour performed better in England than the critics suggested. Scotland and Wales were predicted and they still have a lot of work to do. It has been a very bumpy ride for Jeremy Corbyn as the government, the media and Blairites in his own party all want to see his head roll. He has the hardest job in politics but will remain until 2020 where he’ll look to silence everyone. The Conservatives can be very pleased with their performance. Especially in Scotland. As a government going into local elections, they didn't lose by much at all. Though their big test will be the European referendum on 23rd June. As will UKIP’s. But they did very well in England and Wales respectively. The Greens did amazingly in Scotland but poorly everywhere else. The Lib Dems had a mixed night too. Not gaining much but not losing anything either. The SNP can be happy to win but must be disheartened to lose their majority. Plaid  Cymru can only look with jealousy at the SNP as they failed to defeat Labour in Wales.

Turnout was a big issue. The consensus in England was that they couldn't be bothered and the local elections didn't matter. It’s a shame that we seem to be backtracking in our will to vote. However, these elections have been overshadowed by the EU referedum and were hardly advertised. I knew many people who didn't even know they were happening. (I’m not entirely sure what they thought their poll card was doing on their kitchen table though) I also think we’re still getting over the general election last year. There was so much hype around it and everyone was very excited. When it ended, people were deflated. The turnout of this election may have been a result of that too. Whatever the reason, it’s a shame for British democracy. Let’s hope the turnout is better for the EU referendum.

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