As the election results come in (with the AV vote expected tonight) we take a quick look at what they all mean. Already it is clear that the Lib dems have taken a well-deserved hammering.
As the election results come in (with the AV vote expected tonight) we take a quick look at what they all mean. We will return to these questions shortly with a more detailed analysis.
As expected the Liberal Democrats have paid a terrible price
in this year’s round of council elections for their involvement in the Tory-led
coalition government. With results
still coming in, they have already lost nearly 500 councillors, the worst
election result for the party since it was formed out of a merger between the
old Liberals and the SDP traitors.
They also seem set to lose the AV vote referendum, which will be a
bitter blow to them. Already the knives are out for Clegg, with prominent Lib
Dems calling for his resignation.
In England and Wales, Labour has done well. In the North
they have regained control of a number of councils and have recorded big swings
in the main cities. Lib Dems lost out to Labour in Sheffield, and lost control
of Hull, Bristol and Stockport. In Wales, Labour took votes and seats off both
the Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru. This demonstrates what Marxists have long
explained about how workers will always turn to their mass organisations when
they are under attack.
The result for Labour would have been even better were it
not for two factors. Firstly, the recent record of a number of Labour councils
in failing to properly oppose cuts by not implementing them clearly acted as a
brake on the swing. Secondly, a reaction
to what has been seen by many Labour voters as a weak Labour leadership, unable
or unwilling to clearly take on the Tories and challenge their position. Saying that Labour would also have
carried out cuts, only more slowly, was never going to be a vote winner. Had
Labour stood on a fighting socialist programme then it could have swept the
board, delivering a potentially fatal blow to both the Tories and the Lib Dems.
As it was, Labour was reliant on the huge mood of anger
being directed against the Lib Dems for their rotten role in government.
Ironically, the Tories also benefited from this in terms of results, with some
votes travelling from the Lib Dems to them as people decided to vote for the
real thing rather than the clones.
The BNP continued their sharp decline, losing most of the
seats they were defending and making no gains. The fact that they have no
answer to the cuts has been clearly understood by voters.
The other fringe parties, who have benefited in the past
from a protest mood against the Labour government, also did badly. The various
left groups who put up slates against Labour recorded votes that could only be
described as derisory at best. The fact that workers have bypassed them on the
way to vote Labour will no doubt be an unexplainable mystery to them. They predicted a big swing against
Labour on the basis of their record and have been proved 100% wrong as
usual. The only variation to this
trend was the success for the Greens in Brighton, which reflects a very
However, the situation in Scotland has worked out somewhat
differently. Here Labour’s vote held up just about on the 2007 level (but below
that of the 2010 general election) but it was the SNP who benefited in the
election from the votes being lost by the Lib Dems and the Tories. From a
position where Labour looked set to be the largest party in Holyrood now it is
facing a situation where it has just 29 seats to the SNP’s 65. The SNP will now
form the next Scottish government. They benefited from a pathetic campaign by
Labour and were able to out-promise them on a number of key issues. Of course,
now that the election is over they will have to face reality and start
backtracking on their promises and implement the cuts dictated to them by
Westminster. The SNP are, despite their rhetoric, a capitalist party and will
act like it. It will not take long for the SNP’s popularity to start falling as
the truth sinks in and Scottish workers realise that they have been conned
again. As in England, the left groups standing against Labour did badly with
the memory of the SSP’s six seats now very distant indeed.
the Tories will be quietly relieved that they did not take the same hammering
that their chums in the Lib Dems had, it should be noted that we are only one
year into the life of this coalition government. The first round of cuts are
only just taking effect, there are many more rounds to come as we are forced to
take the hit for the bosses’ crisis. The mood shown by the magnificent protest
of half a million trade unionists on March 26th is just a small
taster of what is to come. Once
the voters have finished with giving the Lib Dems a good kicking, they will
turn to the Tories. Labour needs to break with capitalism and set about the
task of defending workers under attack and providing a clear, socialist
alternative to the brutal madness of capitalism.