Labour’s Election Scorecard 2013

4th May, 2013 11:24 am

Every year I do a piece looking at what the benchmarks are for Labour in the May local elections. This year’s one is hereAnd then when the results come out I check back and see how we did. 

Here are this year’s ratings: 

  • Projected national vote share. The 2009 BBC figures were Con 35%, Lab 25%, LD 22%. This year’s were Lab 29% (up 4%), Con 25% (down 10%), UKIP 23% and LD 14%. We therefore hit one target comfortably – beating the Tories. This year’s 4% lead is down from 6% in 2012 but excepting that, better than the 1% Tory lead in 2011 or any other year going back to 2001 (or to 1998 for a non-General  Election year). However, in raw terms the UKIP surge obviously means it is well down on 2011 and 2012’s 37% and 39%.
  • Raw number of councillors. My calculation (the final figure may differ a bit due to boundary changes) is we now have 6850 councillors. This is our highest number since 2003.
  • Gains. I said “300 gains would be a very stretching target … I think 200 gains is a more reasonable benchmark than 300. Even 178 gains would be impressive as it would involve more than doubling the number of seats we win.” This was unduly pessimistic as we gained 291 seats. This is the first time we have made net gains in a county council election year since 1993. Bizarrely 291 is exactly the number we lost in 2009!
  • Control of councils. We gained the powerful Elected Mayors in Doncaster (from an Independent elected as an English Democrat) and North Tyneside (from a Tory – it includes the posh coastal bits of Tyneside). We gained back control of 2 of the 4 county councils we lost in 2009, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. We just missed Lancashire (gaining 23 seats to be the largest party in a hung council, just 3 short of a majority). In Staffordshire, the fourth county we lost in 2009, we gained a whopping 21 seats but this was from a base of only 3 councillors, so the Tories held control. We also came just 2 seats from gaining control of unitary Northumberland, knocking the Lib Dems from first to third place. We also became the largest party in hung councils in Bristol and Cumbria. The number of councils controlled by Labour is therefore now 116, our best figure since 2002.
  • Location of gains. There was a strong correlation between the gains made and parliamentary target seats where we are organising hard for the 2015 General Election. Obvious examples are Amber Valley, Cambridge, Cannock, Crawley, Dover, Hastings & Rye, Ipswich, Lincoln, Norwich North, Norwich South, Stevenage. But we also made progress with gains in seats like South Dorset (scene of gains in Weymouth) and Sittingbourne & Sheppey which were Labour until 2010 but are not listed in our 106 target marginals, core areas of seats we lost in 2005 like Gravesend and Harwich, and in areas where we have never had the MP like Aldershot, Banbury, Salisbury and David Cameron’s Whitney backyard.
  • Labour toeholds. On this indicator of whether we can claim to be a One Nation party we did spectacularly well. Of the 13 councils where we had 0 to 2 county councillors each in 2009 (Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Dorset, Essex, Hampshire, Kent, North Yorkshire, Somerset, Suffolk, Surrey, West Sussex, and Wiltshire) we have gone from a total of  just 16 to 83 councillors, with representation on every authority, and in one case (Suffolk) a Labour Group of 15!
  • Finally, I’d note that most of our gains were direct from the Tories, in areas where they hold the MP, whereas in 2011 and 2012 lots of our progress was in urban areas that already have Labour MPs, against the Lib Dems.

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