Tumultuous, unprecedented times. The biggest shift in our nation’s geo-political standing since the Second World War. A global pandemic and a catastrophic number of fatalities. A Prime Minister beset by scandal. A bumper election year, rolling over last year’s postponed polls to coincide with those always scheduled to take place this year.
Super Thursday could have been seismic.
And yet, on the surface, it seems to have been a tacit endorsement of the status quo.
A good job on the jab, a job done on Brexit, a job on the line for Sir Keir Starmer? – the national picture certainly tells this story. The Conservatives gained 236 seats in councils across England – an unbelievable result for a party that has been in power for 11 years. In left-leaning London though, what do the number tells us?
Firstly, that although it was a little closer than the polls had predicted, Sadiq Khan is on for a second term, winning 55% of the vote to Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey’s 45%. But if you stare at the results long enough – or trust us to do so for you – you’ll see a few things at which one might proffer a gentle raise of the eyebrow. For example, Bailey actually came top in terms of first preference votes in Ealing & Hillingdon and Brent & Harrow, which Khan had won in 2016. Meanwhile, reflecting a good day for them across the country, the Greens’ Sian Berry repeated her 2016 feat of coming third, displacing the Lib Dems’ Luisa Porritt and seeing a neat little bump in her vote share too. On the Assembly, no political change to the super-constituencies though on the Londonwide seats the UKIPpers have been cleared out, with an extra seat each for the Greens, Lib Dems and Tories and one less for Labour.
So London isn’t entirely immune to the national mood and we predict that once we get our hands on the borough and ward level data we will see the real nuances in the story and how they might affect next year’s local elections, particularly in boroughs like Wandsworth and Barnet where the incumbent Tories could come under threat from Labour. Of course, if the 46 by-elections that took place in the capital are anything to go by, there might not be much to see then either – only three of these seats changed hands, though again, a more in-depth analysis of these may tell another story. And if we add East London’s two governance referenda into the mix, the aversion to change seems stark – the people of Newham and Tower Hamlets want to keep their Directly Elected Mayors.
Away from England, a similar narrative applies. In Scotland, the SNP held sway but didn’t quite get the overall majority they so craved, winning 64 of the 129 seats. That said, with eight pro-independence Green members alongside them, the SNP argues there is a strong mandate for a second referendum. Though in Wales, Labour did perhaps better than some expected taking 30 of the 60 seats in the Assembly (up one seat from last time). Was this a ‘vaccine bounce’ favouring parties already in power? The Tories gained five seats on the Senedd, all from ex UKIP members, whilst Plaid Cymru only gained one.
If it was a vaccine bounce then it must have been double dose... Back in England, those 236 new Tory seats won them control of 16 new councils (13 from NOC, 3 from Lab), frankly astonishing for an 11 year old government. Before we take you on a whistle-stop tour of the London results in the maps and charts below, here is a quick snapshot of what happened beyond the M25:
- As noted above, the Tories increased their councillors count by 236, whilst Labour lost 327 seats.
- Among the 13 new Tory Councils gained from No Overall Control were Cornwall and Maidstone in the south, Dudley in the West Midlands and Nottinghamshire and Northumberland in the north.
- They also took Amber Valley, Harlow and Southampton from Labour.
- It wasn’t quite all one way traffic and the Conservatives lost control of three councils, including Tunbridge Wells.
- For Labour, along with that beating in Hartlepool, the Red Wall continues to crumble with the party losing control of Durham and Sheffield councils.
- Meanwhile the Lib Dems, historically a significant threat to the Tories, gained outright control of just one council, St Albans, and only added seven councillors to their total nationally.
- Labour can at least point to winning most of the Mayoral contests including Cambridgeshire and Peterborough from the Tories along with the West of England (where the incumbent did not run).
- But of course the West Midlands, the Mayoralty was held comfortably by Conservative Andy Street and in the north-east Ben Houchen absolutely trounced his Labour rival in Tees Valley with a 73% majority.
- Finally, while Labour won the West Yorkshire Mayoralty with Tracy Brabin MP, this will trigger a by-election in Batley and Spen (2019 majority: 3,525) where the beleaguered party could yet again come under threat from the Tories.
We’ll be reporting further on the election results in our regular edition of LDN this Wednesday – and after that will publish a fuller analysis and briefing document on our website.
Here are the headline results of London's Mayoral election. The charts and map below show how the incumbent, Labour's Sadiq Khan, won the Mayoralty by a comfortable margin - though not, perhaps, quite as comfortable as was originally expected. Indeed, the results also point to some successes by the Tories' Shaun Bailey, who not only achieved a slightly better result than his predecessor Zac Goldsmith but also came first in first preference votes in two constituencies won by Khan in 2016 - as well as by the Greens' Sian Berry, who has again led her party to a decent third place for first preference votes and an impressive first place for second preferences. London Elects of course has the detailed results.
[NB: The above map shows which of the two top Mayoral candidates came first within each constituency area, in terms of 1st preference votes; for the results of the elections for each of the Assembly's constituency members, see relevant section below]
While on the subject of Mayoral elections - and looking to the Boroughs for a moment, these are the rather resounding results of two governance referenda carried out by Newham and Tower Hamlets. The two East London boroughs asked voters whether they wanted to replace their Directly Elected Mayor system - in Newham with a Committee System and in Tower Hamlets with a Leader and Cabinet Model. In the event, voters in both boroughs have opted to maintain their local Mayors. The only other London boroughs which employ this system at present are Hackney and Lewisham.
Back to the "other half" of the Greater London Authority, the map and graphics below present the headline results for the London Assembly's 25 seats. There was no change in party control of the 14 constituency seats, though the election has brought in many a new face, not to mention revealed some interesting shifts in party voteshare and majorities at the constituency and borough level (which we will be unpicking separately, in a more detailed briefing). Also, the election for the 11 Londonwide "top up" list candidates saw UKIP wiped out and Labour somewhat diminished, with the Tories, Greens and Lib Dems winning one additional seat apiece. All meaning that the body scrutinising the Mayor from within City Hall for the next three years has a decidedly "new look."
And finally, for the 46 council ward by-elections which took place across about two thirds of London's boroughs. Not many surprises here either, with just three seats changing party control. But the detailed voting figures, which we are only now starting to get to grips with, may well have a more interesting story to tell. More on this in LCA's upcoming full election results briefing.
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