Socialist Worker

Local election results show Labour shouldn’t retreat from radicalism

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2603

Labour activists campaigning in Wandsworth

Labour activists campaigning in Wandsworth


The local elections in England have seen Labour do well in some areas, but not make a decisive breakthrough.

The Tories will be relieved to have not suffered major losses. Reeling from the Windrush scandal, divided over Brexit and after eight years of austerity they have nevertheless, so far, taken almost exactly the same number of seats as in 2014.

They were probably helped by the collapse of Ukip. And Labour councils meekly implementing Tory cuts don’t help Labour’s claim to be different.

At 12.30pm, with 70 percent of the results announced:

  • Labour had won 1,567 councillors, up 47 on 2014’s results in these councils
  • Conservatives had won 953 councillors, up eight on 2014’s results in these councils

Labour took control of Plymouth from the Tories and is now the largest party in Trafford, Greater Manchester. This had been the Tories’ outpost in the region.

In London Labour increasing its number of seats in many councils. In Hammersmith Labour won an extra nine seats. In Redbridge it did even better, gaining 13.

But Labour has not won any new councils in the capital.

In Wandsworth, controlled by the Tories for 40 years, Labour gained seven seats, but that was not enough to take control.

Labour did poorly in Barnet, where the Tory council has pushed through mass privatisation. Labour lost five seats, meaning the Tories now have overall control which it had recently lost.

Barry Rawlings, leader of Barnet Labour, blamed the result on antisemitism in Labour.

Rawlings was one of those who attacked Corbyn with accusations of anitsemitism.

If it is true that some Jewish voters refused to vote Labour in Barnet it’s because the Labour right have worked with the Tory media relentlessly to peddle false allegations of antisemitism.

There is no certainty that Labour will win the next general election. Simply waiting for the Tories to collapse is not a winning option

Labour mayor Sadiq Khan said the party was heading for the best result since 1971 when it won 53 percent of the vote in the capital. However, that won’t be known for some time as several boroughs have yet to declare.

If the present results were repeated at a general election then probably no party could form a government. However we should remember that the turnout at local elections is much lower than at a general election.

In excellent news, Ukip has been almost wiped from the electoral map. It has lost 106 of the seats it was defending and won just two (in Derby).

Ukip's general secretary Paul Oakley was left comparing the party to the Black Death as he struggled to find positives.

"It's not all over at all," Mr Oakley told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"Think of the Black Death in the Middle Ages. It comes along and it causes disruption and then it goes dormant, and that's exactly what we are going to do.”

The Lib Dems were celebrating their gains of around 40 seats. But in 2014 they lost 310, so last night’s results go no way towards repairing their fall.

The results underline that there is no certainty that Labour will win the next general election. Simply waiting for the Tories to collapse is not a winning option.

And drawing back from struggle and radicalism risks allowing the Tories to cling on.

The battles against austerity and racism in the streets and the workplaces are needed now more than ever.


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