What did Local Election and London Results Show?
It has been an interesting and for Labour a fantastic week following the success in both the Local Elections across the UK and at the London Assembly which has demonstrated that the people from all walks of life, especially the ‘middle classes’ have finally come to the same conclusion about the coalition Government which is,
“Stop making excuses, stop blaming someone else and especially each other, get a grip and start taking responsibility for your own actions and decisions”.
The evidence is clear, Labour Candidates gained 823 Council seats with the coalition Conservatives and Liberal Democrats losing 741 Councillors between them through not only the national coalition Governments economic failure but because Labour has proved they are the only party prepared to listen to local communities.
The stark facts whatever spin the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats want to put on it is that Labour with 2,158 councillors has started to regain the trust of people at the local level with the coalition parties losing council seats and following last year’s results the decline of the Liberal Democrats could well turn out to be terminal.
What the Conservatives are tentatively holding up as a success of course is Boris Johnson winning the Mayoralty in London a claim that disguises the fact that 933,398 people voted Labour compared to a combined total of 876,000 for the Conservative/Liberal Democrats in electing members to the London Assembly where Labour now have 12 seats and are the largest party in the assembly.
There is however a lesson for Labour to learn from the London Mayoralty result which is that once you move away from elections for local positions to those of national representation such as Members of Parliament it is essential to select candidates who the opposition can’t personalise and stigmatize as a previous failure in order to convince the public to vote for them.
Unfortunately for Ken Livingstone who has been an important political figure for over 40 years in London and is very well-known throughout the UK his past record of being rejected by the electorate in 2008 after 8 years as the Mayor was used against him by the opposition.
There is no doubt that the sustained personal attacks on him along the line of associating him with the past events both in London and Westminster was both calculated and effective.
It will almost certainly be a tactic that will be used against anyone associated with the last Labour Government who may be looking to return to Westminster.
It doesn’t mean that previous incumbents shouldn’t be seriously considered as candidates or of they are the best candidate they shouldn’t be selected but they will if selected need to be able to answer and respond to what will unquestionably be personal attacks of the sort Ken Livingstone had to face.
The lesson may be that Labour need to seriously consider selecting Parliamentary Candidates who cannot be associated with the past, who are new and fresh and who will represent local people in Parliament and not get sucked into the Westminster Village that clearly over the years as so many MP’s have demonstrating as we currently see becoming invariably out of touch with the public.
The biggest lesson to be learned is the need for Labour to continue to demonstrate that they are the party who are holding the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition parties at the local and national level to account and continue to be the party who are listening to people.
Given the intransigence displayed by David Cameron and Nick Clegg at their “relaunch” yesterday and the statement that
“What you call austerity we call efficiency ” is further evidence, if any was needed, of just how out of touch with the difficulties being faced by millions of people the coalition parties are.
Northampton Labour are Listening to Northampton with the coalition partners ignoring the people which I am hopeful will be reflected in May next year when the electorate in Northampton and Northamptonshire will have their first opportunity to register their opinion on an increasingly out of touch Conservative run County Council.