So how did we do? The picture isn’t clear yet in Wales or England (although we can pick up sone trends), and the picture is all too clear in Scotland where Labour have taken a real hiding.
So what have we learned so far?
We learned that Westminster elections and Holyrood elections have no direct correlation. Scottish voters want Labour MPs in Westminster as the best way of avoiding a Tory government. But they evidently believe that the SNP are better equipped to fight for them in Scotland. That’s a sad indictment of Scottish Labour. There will need to be a very serious post-mortem of what went on, and Iain Gray surely must go.
Yet it’s not clear how much blame should be apportioned to Ed Miliband over this. Many of the problems for Scottish Labour seem long-term and structural rather than short-term political. The Scottish Party needs to be revamped, and more talent needs to be maintained north of the border – Salmond vs Gray was a political mismatch that should never have been allowed to happen. It’s hard to imagine Jim Murphy or DOuglas Alexander taking such a pastin from the mercurial nationalist.
In Wales it’s wait and see time. If Labour gets over 30 seats and takes overall control then it’s a good night, otherwise it’s indifferent. It really is hard to say more than that at this stage – except that it looks like a strong performance. There really isn’t another party of significance in Wales at the moment.
In England, it’s difficult to make any clear pronouncements based on the data available so far. Labour’s 300+ council seat gains so far should solidify into a 5-600 councillor bump once all of the results are in. In historical terms that’s actually a very creditable result, but Labour lost the expectation game early on and – perhaps – believed some of the hype about gaining 1000+ councillors. That allowed the Tories to make that the barrier to cross for a decent night, which always spelt trouble. LabourList readers suspected that 500-1000 gains was the most likely outcome, and that seems fairly accurate.
What will need to be analysed closely though is “how” Labour made gains, not “how many”. Obviously Labour benefitted from the collapse of the Lib Dem vote across the country – especially in the North. As Tim Montgomerie notes the Libs were rumbled for trying to be all things to all people. But we will need to see where and how Labour took seats from the Tories. At the moment it seems that our progress has stalled when it comes to beating the Tories in the South – in exactly the sort of seats we need to win in 2015.
A Lib Dem collapse is fun to watch, and the North is a sea of red again – but we don’t win general elections like that. These results only go from decent to good if we have made real inroads into blue areas.
And I’m not convinced yet that we have.