Labour have exceeded expectations in the local elections. The Tory press, including the BBC will play this down but the seats won, despite the low turnout represent more than just mid term blues for the Tories. Cameron told voters to vote on local rather than national issues. They did: Ordinary people saw Cameron, Clegg and Osborne vote through a policies that will see bin men and care workers lose their jobs so that the rich can enjoy a tax cut.
The Tories themselves declared that to do well, Labour would have to take 700 seats. The gain of 823 seats for Labour will be the headline figure but if you do some maths it gets even worse for the coalition: Labour now have over 2000 councillors, 600 more than both the coalition parties combined. A staggering 405 Tory councillors have been ousted by voters and 336 former Lib Dem councillors will be now wondering how in 2 years they have gone from CleggMania to ArmaCleggon.
Credit must go to hard working Labour activists and candidates but the newly elected Labour councillors must shake off any trace of celebratory attitude pretty quickly. They have an unenviable job ahead of them. Councils have another three years of funding cuts to implement. If hopeful, prospective candidates have filled their leaflets with promises, then I hope they haven’t promised anything expensive.
The 32 newly won Labour run councils have the dreadful task of deciding which services their constituents can do without and where the axe will fall in terms of job losses. Idealistic, bright eyed councillors must quickly learn to walk the tightrope of protecting the vulnerable, while receiving less, year on year, from a central government who are determined to stick to their rapid-austerity-no-growth ‘strategy’.
I had feared two terms of rule by posh boys with a sense of entitlement. They will force through irreversible changes and make public services like Health and Education more accessible to shareholders and CEOs wanting a slice of government funding and less accessible to those who need the services most. I am now more hopeful that this Tory led Government will be limited to doing just 5 years of damage.