Conservatives Break Through 1000-Seat Loss Mark

Labour’s shock poor performance today has shielded the Conservatives from much of the criticism their woeful local election performance deserves. The Tories were bracing for losses around the 700-800 mark, the higher numbers briefed out last week were meant to be for expectation management purposes. They have just plunged through the 1,000-seat loss mark…

One of the bigger Tory casualties was Arun District Council leader Gillian Brown – it just so happens that Brown is Philip Hammond’s mother-in-law. That’ll make for some awkward conversations at the next family occasion…
UPDATE: The final casualty count for the Tories is 1,332 Councillors, their worst performance since 1995. Two years before Major was annihilated by Blair…

Curtice: Not a Remain Backlash

The Twittersphere is awash with claims that the Lib Dems’ impressive exotic sprasm [sic] last night is down to a ‘Remain backlash’. That’s not what the data is saying. The Lib Dems are doing best where they had strong local organisation, and had been strong in the past (seats that span the Leave-Remain divide). Lib Dem sources in the North East tell Guido that they took pains to “completely avoid Brexit and focus on Labour’s record locally.”

“Where Vince cable came up on doorsteps, it was always residents mentioning him negatively. It’s still a hugely leave area and I think the UKIP surge demonstrates that.”

A Lib Dem activist told Guido “In Sunderland we avoided Brexit as much as possible and it may have hindered us in some wards.” Here’s an example of their hard hitting, heavily local campaign literature…

The anger with the main Parties might be because of Brexit, but where disgruntled voters are flooding to is far less determined by it…

Tory Analyst Predicts 800-Seat Loss at Local Elections

It’s not just the EU elections where the Conservatives are heading for a pasting, the Tories are bracing for a bloodbath in the local elections this Thursday as well. Analyst and Tory peer Robert Hayward came out with a new prediction yesterday that the Tories could lose over 800 seats of the 8,000 or so being contested this week. Hayward tips the Lib Dems to pick up 500 and Labour to pick up 300, the Brexit Party aren’t standing…

The Tories are firmly in expectation management mode, Boris uses his Monday Telegraph column to plead with voters to not “take out your Brexit frustrations on our hard-working Tory councillors”. The reality is that local Councillors are likely to take the hit for Theresa May’s failings…

Lib Dems Already Deploying Dodgy Bar Charts

The Lib Dems are gearing up their local election campaign and that means only one thing – comically distorted and misleading bar charts. A co-conspirator received this classic in Norton ward, Dudley. The Lib Dems haven’t even bothered distorting a previous result this time, they’ve just made up an entirely imaginary chart of what the result “could look like”.

In fact, when Norton was last contested just last year, the Lib Dems were beaten soundly into third place by Labour with just 10% of the vote compared to Labour’s 23%, while the Conservative candidate romped home with 62%. The Lib Dems last won a seat there in 2003 – if Labour are “out of the running”, the Lib Dems aren’t even in the race. Guido has fixed their chart for them:

Labour Candidate Offers ‘Free Hand Massages’ to Win Votes

Labour council candidate in Kirklees Lesley Warner has a novel approach to getting closer to local people. She has posted an advert in a local Facebook group promoting a Labour Party event that promises free coffee and cake. And hand massages.

Unfortunately for sore Kirklees residents, ‘Treating’ electors like this is explicitly forbidden under the Representation of the People Act. If the Electoral Commission come down hard on this, Lesley’s hand massages will not have a happy ending…

Wannabe Labour Councillors’ Boobs

A couple of Labour council candidates have made right tits of themselves on social media. Epsom & Ewell Labour’s Robert Geleit features himself in a “I love your Tits” T-shirt. Worcester Labour’s Andy Graham likes big boobs, literally, on Twitter.  Don’t tell Harriet Harman that both are standing in May’s elections. It is unknown if the Labour group leader in either council area is abreast of the situation, in any event Guido advises both men are kept away from doors and knockers for the remainder of the campaign…

Would-Be Labour Councillor Suspended For Disabled “Benefits Scum” Posts

A Labour local election candidate has been suspended in Darlington for referring to a disabled person as “benefits scum” and the area she hopes to represent as a “shithole estate.” She told the Nothern Echo that she had been advised by the Labour Party “not to comment on the matter.” Guido thinks that’s probably wise…

Tower Hamlets Tories Raise “Serious Concerns” Over Count

Tory councillors and activists are preparing a report for the Electoral Commission after becoming concerned about at last Friday’s “chaotic” Tower Hamlets count. Multiple sources at the heavily policed count described alleged failings including:

  • Failure to replace all teams of counters between the mayoral count (Thursday night) and the council count (Friday afternoon);
  • Both the council ballot verification process (Thursday night) and the count itself being “very disorganised”. Observers said staff seemed unsure how to verify and count split votes, so political counting agents and candidates had to explain to them how to do it…

Suspicions intensified when the result for the Island Gardens was announced: it put Conservative group leader Peter Golds in 4th place. The Tories asked for a recheck because this didn’t match up with their tallies. Golds went from fourth place to second place after the recheck…

On polling day numerous issues had been reported including EU citizens being turned away at polling stations. Golds told Guido:

“Anyone who tries to describe what happened on Friday as a count should reconsider their opinion. The whole thing was a complete and utter shambles. From start to finish the count was totally disorganised, staff didn’t know what they were doing, with ballot papers being misplaced and counting procedures made up on the spot. Following government directions the council have had years to prepare for this election. We were still the last authority in the country to declare a result and there are still concerns that several results may not be correct.”

“The Electoral Commission have serious questions to answer, they need to look carefully at what happened here and sort out the legitimate concerns that people have for over elections once and for all.”

An Electoral Commission spokesman said:

“While it took time for Tower Hamlets to complete its count and declare results for all 20 wards, the processes and procedures that were put in place to address past issues were well managed. Representatives from the Electoral Commission were present throughout the Tower Hamlets count, no issues were raised with them Anyone who does have concerns should contact the Returning Officer for Tower Hamlets.”

Meanwhile, Labour’s re-elected mayor in Tower Hamlets proclaimed the borough has “moved on” from its history of corruption issues. Not quite…

Tories Take Pendle By Reinstating Suspended Councillor

The Tories have secured a majority on Pendle council by re-instating a candidate who was previously suspended for posting a racist joke on social media. According to the BBC, Rosemary Carroll was suspended over Facebook comments but the ban was lifted this morning as the result became clear. A Labour source said:

“This is a disgusting and cynical way for the Tories to win control of Pendle council. It makes a mockery of Brandon Lewis’s respect pledge. How can they justify it?”

Not the best look on a day the Tories are simultaneously attacking Corbyn on anti-Semitism.

Labour and UKIP Collapse, LibDem Fightback Falls Flat

Your 6:30am update:

  • Disastrous night for Labour: terrible losses in England and Wales, including losing control of councils in Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr.
  • Wipeout for UKIP: so far the party has lost all the seats it held and failed to win a single seat across the country.
  • So much for the LibDem fightback: Losses for the party overall, no sign of a fightback against the Tories in the west country.
  • Tory gains everywhere: including the West of England mayoralty.

Bad night for everyone except the Tories…

Good Morning, It’s Local Election Day

The polls are open and the results are expected throughout the day tomorrow. Just how much will the Labour vote crumble? Will Andy Street and the Tories defeat Labour’s Sion Simon in the West Midlands? (Result 6pm Friday.) Most of the results are in between 3pm and 5pm tomorrow. Enjoy the quaint BBC politics blackout…

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Quote of the Day

Peter Mandelson tells Emma Barnett…

“I think that Jeremy Corbyn himself should search his conscience and ask himself whether he’s the best person to lead the Labour Party into the general election with the best chance of success for the party.”

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