I wouldn’t normally bother with a full results analysis, but as the BBC – especially on TV – seems solely dedicated to trumpeting the ‘massive game-changing victory’ of UKIP, and with BBC One very quickly becoming ‘All Farage, All The Time’ I think a more bare-bones summary is needed from someone.
We have a first-past-the-post system, so vote share doesn’t actually matter. But it does give a broad idea of who people were voting for, if not where:
Targets and Expectations
Conservatives expected to lose between 300 and 500 councillors. In a similar local election circumstances in 2009 Gordon Brown’s Labour government lost 291 council seats and lost control of 4 councils
Labour expected to win the majority of the 291 councillors lost in 2009
In 2009, Tories gained 244 councillors and control of 7 councils.
UKIP expected ’14% of the vote share, and over 100 new councillors’, and put 1,745 candidates up across 74% of available seats (a massive investment for a minority party – compare: Conservative 2,263; Labour 2,168; Lib Dem 1,763; Green 893; BNP 99)
Liberal Democrats expected to lose 130 councillors.
You can see for yourself how this matches up with expectations.
The Tories didn’t lose quite as many seats as the most catastrophic prediction, but they did lose many more councils than Labour did in 2009 (and more than they themselves gained in the same year).
Labour matched (or surpassed) expectations in terms of councillors gained, but only seized control of two councils.
UKIP surpassed both of their own targets, and the expectations of most commentators.
The Lib Dems didn’t quite hit their own doleful target – but getting knocked down into fourth place vote share (and then losing their deposit in the by-election, below)… that’s voters sending a message.
In addition to the local council elections, there was a by-election in South Shields last night. This has also been touted as a ‘victory’ for UKIP, but I think you might need a pretty strange definition of victory to do that.
Labour retained their vote share, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats (i.e. the government parties) surrendered theirs to UKIP.
That seems to pretty comfortably establish UKIP as the party of the protest vote (especially as it’s exactly what happened in Eastleigh)
I don’t want to piss all over UKIP’s chips, but touting last night’s results as some sort of massive victory for the party is very much disingenuous. They’ve gained local councillors from the coalition. They’re still behind both the Tories and Labour in vote share (even in an election with low turnout).
They’re still a party without any MPs. There’s still no sign that (enough) people are willing to vote for even a single UKIP parliamentary candidate.
Today is, I think, their high water mark.