It’s hard to identify any winners in the local elections, but the clear loser was the British public, says Mark Dolan

Mark Dolan
Mark Dolan

Yesterday’s turnout was a vote of no confidence in those who lead us, and those who seek to.

Published

It’s hard to identify any winners in yesterday’s local elections, but the clear loser was the great British public.

The dismal, low turnout was a rejection of our current politics. You deserve better, and you are being let down by the political class.

Yesterday’s turnout was a vote of no confidence in those who lead us, and those who seek to. London was a triumph for labour, winning longstanding blue boroughs Barnet, Wandsworth and Westminster.

London has now moved so far to the left, it’s twinned with Beijing. It makes Pyongyang, look like a mecca of libertarian conservatism.

Londoners, strap yourselves in for rising council tax bills and tumbling historic statues. But Labour’s success last night, was also its problem. It is consolidating support in an area it already dominates.

To make any serious inroads on the conservative majority achieved in 2019, the beer-swilling, cervix-free Sir Keir Starmer needed to be winning back the red wall. This has not happened, with surprise Tory wins in bellwether areas like Nuneaton and Hartlepool. And Labour’s tally of councils looks to have fallen outside London.

But it was a bad night for the Conservatives too, which is now effectively unelectable in the biggest city in Europe, London, a city previously run buy Boris Johnson himself for eight years.

There was progress for the Lib Dems, and the Greens too. That may just be a protest vote, it will be a concern for both the Tories and Labour at the next election. If you are seriously fed up of the Conservatives and Labour, the Lib Dems may be an option and Sir Ed Davey.

A man so anonymous even his own family don’t recognise him. But remember this face, because he could once again become kingmaker, in the way Nick Clegg was in 2010.

Notwithstanding the kicking that the Tories got yesterday, including the loss of Southampton to Labour, another blow, it was a perversely positive result for the PM.

Hanging onto those Brexit supporting areas in the north, preserves his red wall credentials and I believe that given a collapse in Tory support in the midlands and the North did not materialise, not only does Boris Johnson live to fight another day, it's pretty clear he will be fighting the next election.

How so? The Tories lost badly yesterday. Of that there is no doubt. But if Labour cannot achieve a mid-term landslide in the context of the biggest cost-of-living crisis since the 70s, in the context of partygate, and the prime minister literally being investigated by the police; if labour can't draw blood with ever rising interest rates, rising taxes, soaring energy bills and inflation set to top out at 10%, when are they going to win? Having spent so long banging on about partygate, Sir Beer Starmer was hoisted on his own petard and was served up a nice bubbly pint of his own medicine, when the Mail newspaper broke the Labour beergate story.

Rightly Durham Police will now investigate this. Whether guilty of breaking the rules, it’s clear Keir Starmer ordered curry for colleagues late in the evening and drank beers. And Angela Rayner lied about not being there. She was there, after months of denials from Labour HQ. And the confected rage around stories that she distracts the PM at PMQs with her strawberry blond anatomy, looks to have been her own story and her own x-rated language.

Her growler is worse than its bite. Whether the truth ever outs, the public will make their own judgment. I've got to tell you, although I work in the famously permissive and indulgent world of broadcast media, I can't ever remember a work event, in which I hoovered up chicken tikka masala and pints of Stella.

A stellar performance was needed from Labour yesterday, but perceived partygate hypocrisy, is bound to have blunted Starmer’s pious, hand-wringing attacks on the beleaguered PM. Plus the Labour leader’s ongoing inability to define a woman, along with a perception that Labour is stuck in a metropolitan bubble, is mud that looks likely to stick.

And the cost of living crisis, whilst on the face of it an electoral asset to labour will, I believe, become its Achilles heel. Because it's my view that the cost of living crisis is in fact, the cost of lockdown crisis. And we know Sir Keir Starmer was the greatest lockdown cheerleader of them all. If he’d been even the slightest bit lockdown sceptic early doors, he’d be laughing all the way to Number 10. However, on the flip-side, Labour have made several significant gains.

For example, they appear to have ridden the party of the ghost of antisemitism, securing Barnet in North London, which boasts a sizeable Jewish community. And I congratulate Starmer for his progress on this

important issue. Great and decisive leadership. I’d like to see more of that from him. And the Tories should not confuse expectation management – they were expecting to be slaughtered yesterday - with electoral success. In truth there's every chance that fragmented support and a disaffected, politically homeless public, will deliver the worst possible scenario for the country at the next election: a hung parliament. Hang me now. We had one of those under Theresa May and you will remember the hellish Brexit deadlock.

Well, just imagine a hung parliament in the context what could be the biggest economic crisis since the winter of discontent in 1978, when the government went to the IMF to beg for money. The truth is there are millions of people in this country who feel politically homeless, with a Conservative government that isn't Conservative any more and a labour party that appears to have lost interest in the British working class, and their strong patriotism and traditional values. It seems they are ashamed of them. And under Starmer, the perception is that Labour are have been drinking not just illicit beers, but the woke cool aid.

Labour has become the party of extreme political correctness, one that won’t even acknowledge basic human biology. How telling that they gained Mayfair, but lost Hull. I think that tells you everything you need to know. You could argue yesterday’s results were a scoring draw. And a bore draw at that. Own goals, scored on both sides, it was back of the net for no-one. Yesterday was a game of two halves, but it was Labour’s job to get on the scoresheet, more so than the sitting incumbent, the top of the table Tories.

There was some Labour success, but no Tory collapse. Those key northern regions have clearly not forgiven labour for their attempts to reverse Brexit, a policy crafted by Starmer himself, a man who campaigned for Corbyn to be PM. A lot of this is a political hangover for Starmer, that no amount of paracetamol will clear.

Labour is suffering from a severe bout of long Corbyn and long Brexit. Will it have cleared up by the next election? I wouldn’t hold my breath.

To be honest, I’m not enamoured by either of these two parties. I honestly didn't have a clue who to vote for yesterday. And the monster raving loony party, look positively statesmanlike, compared to this shower. The issues are clear.

The country needs a serious plan to tackle the horrific cost of living crisis, to deliver a proper Brexit and scrap the Northern Ireland protocol which divides out country.

We need a police force that actually go after criminals, schools that teach kids subjects, not woke politics and an NHS that actually treats people and gives them a face to face GP appointment this side of Christmas.

If nothing changes, I believe Boris walks the next election. But it would be nice if the opposition gave him a run for his money. Whatever happens, Britain deserves better.