On Thursday 4th May it was the local councillor elections. The results are in and across The Rother area the Conservatives have held onto their overall control of the council after having won 6 out of the 9 divisions that the area is split in to. The other 3 areas were won by 2 independent candidates and a Liberal Democrat.
The positive result for the Conservatives comes as no real surprise as the Rother area is a notoriously politically conservative area. However, the Conservatives had good results across the country as a whole, gaining control of 11 councils and increasing their total number of councillors by 558. Most notable gains include Glasgow which has been in Labour control for the last 30 years. The Labour party suffered losses across the country and the UKIP vote completely collapsed, it is thought that the Conservatives have picked up the majority of the UKIP voters.
All of this has occurred just five weeks before we all go to the polls again to vote in the general election. So what predictions can be made for the general election based on these results? It is important to note that the turnout at council elections is considerably lower than at a general. The average turn out across Rother being at 40% and 69.9% for the latest council elections and the general election in 2015 respectively. Therefore the opinion of nearly 30% of the electorate is thus far unaccounted for.
On the two previous occasions when the council and general elections have been held this close together (1983 and 1987) The Conservatives came out better in the general than they did in the council elections, suggesting that they go into the general in a very strong position, although this brings the worry of complacency among the Conservative electorate, expectations of an easy victory prompt a failure to vote.
The poor result for UKIP in the council elections suggests that Brexit will be a factor. Voters appear to have ditched UKIP now that their main goal of Brexit is being realised, and their support for a hard Brexit is being demonstrated by Conservative gains. The losses for Labour can also be partially explained by voters’ appreciation for a hard Brexit. Thus far the Anti-Brexit stance of the Liberal Democrats, while pulling back some of their popularity from their disastrous collapse in 2015, has not led to any significant gains.
Only the result on the morning of June 9th will indicate how representative the council elections have been. The most important thing that anyone can do is to head out on June 8th and exercise their right to vote.
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