Friday, 2 May 2008

Well, I got that totally wrong

My prediction earlier this week was right in one respect. Labour has not lost 200 seats: it looks like it's going to do even worse than that.

Let's be clear about this. This is a complete meltdown in their support and I have to confess that I under-estimated the extent to which Labour voters were angry with the government. For a governing party to get as little as 24% of the vote in a set of local elections is an utter humiliation, one which not even John Major's government experienced (his lowest was 26%).

Indeed, when Harriet Harman appeared on Radio Five Live this morning, she was asked how it felt to do even worse in local elections than Michael Foot had done. She didn't have an answer.

Clearly it was a very good night for the Tories, and last night was the first time it crossed my mind that the Tories might, just might, be able to get an overall majority at the next Westminster General Election.

For the Lib Dems, we've done OK, but no more than that. When the dust settles, we've held Newcastle and Liverpool (just!), and taken overall control of Hull, Burnley, and St Albans. ConservativeHome is also reporting that we've taken Sheffield, which is a boost for Nick Clegg in his own back yard. Many Lib Dems were expecting modest overall losses, so to have modest overall gains is encouraging. And to beat Labour in the national share of the vote (again) is also good news. However, the fact that our vote share has fallen overall is a slight cause for concern, as is the possible threat from the Tories in many of our held seats.

But overall, it's been a very good set of results for the Tories (and that's even before Boris wins later today), an OK result for the Lib Dems and a truly disastrous one for Labour.

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