UK local elections. Labour gets a spanking

http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=530325
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/3796075.stm

Iraq played a huge part in this bad showing at the polls. While I don’t see Blair changing his policies on seemingly supporting Bush ‘no matter what’ how will this play with the party in general.

Labour is pretty much split due to the war. It’s unpopular with the country and a lot of people in his own party. Will MP’s sitting marginal seats now really start putting pressure on as their futures as MP’s are at stake?

Blair to lead Labour for another term or will Gordon get a shot?

Either way I can’t see anything but a Labour gov. the next time as the Tory party are still pretty much unelectable from what I can see.

I’m not convinced that the conservative party are completely unelectable. They did put in a gain of 121 councillors after all. The expected splitting of the conservative vote with UKIP seems not to have happened (although the euro elections will be where that really shows). As a firm believer that local elections are more important to vote in than national elections, I find it difficult to believe that people would vote conservative locally and not wish to see the conservatives do well in the nationwide ballot.

That said I fully agree with your basic premise that this was a (in my opinion well deserved) slap to Mr Blair from his core support to take his nose out of America’s posterior and start actually listening to the people who elected him as their leader (and a case can be made that it was Mr Blair’s personal charisma that so convincingly won the last elections for Labour). My prediction is that if Labour do get rid of Blair (and his undying support for the war in Iraq) before the next election they’ll win convincingly, if they don’t it’ll be a close thing, possibly even a situation where Labour are the largest party but without an overall majority, which would be a very interesting situation.

I think Blair has lost a lot of his teflon coating as a result of the war… but he still has leadership charisma. I am not sure Gordon does. Maybe a style/personality guru could change things around for him, but it is a big ask, IMHO. I think MP’s know when they have a good leader, and I think it would be damaging for their party to attempt to unsettle him now. Look how long it has taken the Tories to find a strong leader again after Thatcher, though I think they may have finally found it in Howard.

The next General Election is going to be closer for sure. I think the LibDems are going to be stealing a lot of disaffected Labour support, but at the other end the Tories may well suffer because the UKIP seem to be chiming particularly well with many of their traditional voters. I think the fringe parties will increase their share of the vote overall. Whether that is rational from a tactical voting point of view or not is another debate. :smiley:

This just goes to show what an utter farce local elections are. They are supposed to determine how your Council Tax is spent but end up being a popularity vote on the Parliamentary party! So, the councillors which closed the leisure centre or misspent the Council Tax get re-elected or sacked based on what is happening in a desert 4000 miles away.

Local councils are nightmares of inefficiency, and are essentially undemocratic given the disparity between the extent of their power (which is surprisingly large) and their democratic mandate (hardly anyone votes at all, let alone responsibly, ie. for particular councillors or council policies they actually know about).

I would advocate abolishing local councils. In a General Election, one would vote for a two-person team comprising a Westminster MP and a local MP, who took over all powers local councils currently hold. Thus, in order to get into power nationally, a party must also perform locally.

Incidentally, in case you’re wondering, I did indeed write “Abolish local councils” on my voting slip yesterday.

I agree completely that people may not have voted in their best interests in this case, for exactly the reasons you give. That said I disagree with you on what to do about it.

I think the idea of abolishing local councils is an awful one. Local councils allow decision making to be undertaken by people with a real feel for the area and who are more likely to feel directly responsible to the electorate than a centralised government. For example 2 of the candidates for my local council elections live in the same housing estate as I do, if I want to talk to them about their voting decisions I can go knock on their front door and make my case. This is hugely valuable to me (and I hope to them as well) and I would be loathe to see it go. The current situation is problematic for the reasons you give above but can be solved without resorting to re-centralisation of the entire decision making process.

On an idealistic level the concept of democracy is very much based on an enlightened populace voting for their own considered self interest. What is needed is for people to realise (or at least be lead to realise) that their local council elections are a vital part of their democratic right and responsibilities. Whilst many political parties have taken advantage of the low voter turnout I find it difficult to blame the parties themselves rather than plain old voter apathy. To this end perhaps the solution is to devolve more power to the local council to the point where people’s lives are affected by the council’s decisions that they feel they must vote in order to change things that directly affect them. As to the inneficiency charge you lay, I fail to see how centralised power would make this any better.

Those decisions, no matter how simple, taking literally days (or even more in a council with No Overall Control) where a single elected “boss” such as a local MP (who, again, might live on your estate) could OK it immediately.

Local councils are the reason that “big projects” in the UK uniformally end in tears, and why Council Tax is such absurdly poor value for money.

The problem here is that there’s no guarentee that said local MP will in fact get it right. I don’t mind people taking days to make decisions if that as long as it takes. I do object to a single individual making snap judgements, or even worse being instructed by head office how to proceed. I have a tendancy to vote for independant candidates in local elections for precisely this reason.

Not in my back yard issues won’t go away if one replaces the council with a single individual unless that single individual is being controlled by the party and thus doesn’t really represent local interests anyway. Are there any other mechanisms by which you see local officials causing the failure of nationwide projects?

Just my personal response as a usual Labour supporter. I will not be voting Labour until Blair has gone - with Brown my vote will return. Not all lost Labour votes are lost for good, my WAG is most will either return or go to the Lib-Dems, not the tories. Will be stunned if the tories won the next election.

Too many people remember Howard for the Poll Tax and for generally being the slimiest of the Thatcher govt slimes. The current Govt has done a lot of good things - does no one remember what the country was like in the 80’s and 90’s - the social strife, the greed, the poverty, the unemployment?

The current govt seems a victim of excessive expectations after nearly 2 decades of Tory mis-rule, not to mention the incessant vendetta from the right wing press and it’s picking up the bill for decades of neglect of the social and transport fabric stretching back to the early 70’s.

Nor is there one that a council will. If anything, my experience is that whether it is ‘right’ is far less important than whether it is politically expedient, ie. whether it helps their ‘friends’ or their ‘enemies’. This petty, parochial politicking is utterly blind to any kind of Big Picture. And as for the time scale and other big-project-endangering mechanisms, do you really need days to authorise things like the purchase of some immediately-needed equipment, the immediate hiring of some service or the immediate release of certain information to another party? Businesses (and even the civil service) are not so absurdly constrained: any project under local council control is. It is this ponderous, invasive and utterly inefficient interference which endangers big projects.

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Not UK. England & Wales.

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This postal ballot was a farce, this area was part of it.

I am not at all sure wether I recieved my paper, since I throw everything out that is obviously spam.

I have a feeling that I threw my paper away, but I am not sure, if I had to sign for it as a personal delivery I would have been certain to vote against Labour.

The postal ballot has massive holes in it, in any multiply occupied household the chances of unautherised returns has to be increased, and personally just cannot see how having someone else to sign your voting papaer to verify your identity was ever likely to work, the reality is that this would be utterly impractical to check, you could simply verify yourslef - or any other voting paper you happened to come across. The logistics of confirming correct usage of voting papers is simply unrealistic, impractical and much too expensive.

I have no doubt that there will be a greater number of returns, but in very marginal wards the winner will have virtually no real mandate, and I strongly expect that this will actually undermine voter confidence and lead to a fall in actual votes.

At least with the old system it could be stated with some certainty that each vote cast was done so by the person whose vote it was to cast.

I wish that Labour had suffered a far worse drubbing, I will not be voting for them for some time and there is no issue that is greater than the false declaration of war along with its many thousands of casualties, local issues, even national politics absolutely pale into insignificance alongside this.

I might have expected the Liberal Democrats to do better, in fact that is a source of idssappointment as I would have expected dissaffected Labour voters to vote that way, and it seems proof to me that there is not as great a Labour protest on Iraq as the pundits might think.

Seems to me that Labour voters just stayed away.

Could somebody bring us American Dopers up to speed on the topics under discussion here? Particularly:

  1. When is the next General Election?

  2. If Labour is in disrepute, but the Tories don’t have a chance of winning a majority – what happens then?

  3. Suppose neither party wins a majority. Do the Liberal Democrats get to choose which one they form a coalition government with?

  4. SentientMeat is decrying Britain’s system of local councils. Which sounds astonishing to American ears – over here, for the last 30 years, it’s been “decentralize, decentralize, decentralize.” (Not that we don’t still have one whopping colossus of a federal government, but never find that.) How exactly does the UK’s local-government system work? How much autonomy do the local councils have? How many members do they typically have, and how are they elected? Also, what’s this idea about replacing each council with “a local M.P. and a Westminster M.P.”? Are not all M.P.'s Westminster M.P.'s, by definition?

  5. On a related topic – is it true, as I’ve heard, that part of the LDs’ platform is to establish a “federal Britain”? If so, how would that work? Would Wales, Scotland, NI and each of England’s nine (?) administrative regions become something along the lines of an American state, with the same political functions and the same degree of independence?

Does this mean that parliament will no longer deal with the minutiae of daily life.

I’ll miss:

“Does the Prime Minister think it appropriate that garbage collectors in Lower Pudney take so little care with the lids to the dustbins that homeowners are obliged to chase after these essential items of public sanitation as they roll downhill into the pudney slough? And if he does think it appropriate, what advice does my honorable friend have for the neighbors who are attempting to extend their night’s sleep whilst these raucous informal races between man and lid unfold?”

Each city or district (typically holding, say, between 50,000 and 250,000 people) has a council of around 30 directly elected councillors (you get three votes), each directing a certain aspect of the district’s services (roads, tourism, bins etc.). These are paid for by Council Tax, based on the size of your house, independent of Income Tax (which goes to central government). The council can spend this tax however it likes, although government prevents them raising it past certain levels.

My idea, which incidentally I have never seen suggested seriously elsewhere and so it might well be fatally flawed, is to do away with local elections and make them part of the General Election. Yes, currently all MP’s are both local and Westminster MP’s in one, but they have little local power. A two person team could push for local issues in Westminster while the local MP speeded up the glacial pace of decision making locally, with no loss of local power.

I’m still confused. Do you mean the people of a given borough would elect one M.P. to represent them at Westminster, and a second official – a “borough governor” or something like that – to manage the local government, jointly with the M.P.? You mean, this two-person team would replace all the local councils in the borough? Or perhaps, the Parliamentary boroughs would remain as they are (considerably larger than the council districts, I’m sure), and each district within the borough would have a local governor who would rule the district jointly with the M.P.? Would the Westminster M.P. and the district governor have to be from the same party?

I agree with you entirely, tagos. I won’t forget the sleeze and mis-management of the Tories with their 15% interest rates and using police to stop lawful protesting. And isn’t it funny how the words “Howard” and “slime” seem to go together so well?
I believe Blair made a colossal blunder supporting the war in Iraq and I hope he will do the decent thing and step down. If and when he does then I will return to the Labour fold again, otherwise I will withhold my vote.