Should have a peerage, obviously, for whatever else he is he's the most successful politician of his generation

It simply isn’t true that elections are about whatever the political classes wish to project upon them. Elections are about what the electorate wants to think and vote about and nothing else. So, it may well have been true that Hillary was uniquely qualified for something or other, that The Donald is an oaf who shouldn’t be allowed to be in charge of a spittoon. That’s not how the vote went so therefore that’s not what the electorate thought, is it? Whatever the chatterati might be insisting either then or since.

Thus this from the Washington Post simply isn’t right:

UK local elections eyed as pre-Brexit political barometer

It’s all got nothing to do with Brexit in the slightest. There are elections of course:

People are continuing to vote in council and mayoral elections across England.

Elections are being held in 150 local authorities, spanning metropolitan and district councils, unitary authorities and London boroughs.

Watford, Hackney, Newham, Lewisham and Tower Hamlets will elect mayors while the first-ever mayor for the Sheffield City Region will also be chosen.

Polling stations around England opened at 07:00 BST and close at 22:00 BST.

But Brexit won’t be what is being talked about nor voted upon. And don’t let anyone tell you different.

I speak as someone who has actually done this professional politics bit. Worked for Ukip for example. And one thing that the British are very good at is voting differently in elections at different levels. If that weren’t so we’d have had a Ukip government when we barely managed to have an MP or two at any time.

Think it through for a moment. Came the revolution and we had a referendum on the EU then 52% of those voting did so to skedaddle. Up until perhaps a year or two before said referendum the official party platform of everyone other than Ukip was to stay in. Ukip didn’t sweep the boards with 52% of the vote in other elections now, did it?

Sure, OK, part of that was the fact that I’d worked for the party, stood for them. No one’s going to vote for a party silly enough to allow that to happen.

But in the local elections, like those today, we used to get a decent enough smattering of councillors. And then at the MP level we got no one – rarely troubling the counters in fact. But for the euro-elections the last two times we came second and then first. Both times beating the government of the day in fact. People vote in different ways at different elections. At the MEP elections they quite obviously concentrated on the issues to do with the EU. That’s why the results there were very much closer to the results of the referendum.

Elections to Westminster or councils? No one’s thinking about Europe at all. Well, except my compatriots in Ukip of course but the results show how many others are. The local council elections aren’t going to tell us anything about Brexit, they never are about European issues. Ukip’s results in the past prove that.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. As a longstanding follower of the Libertarian Party, I don’t agree with this. There is a threshold to voting for a splinter party. Pro-Brexit voters might nevertheless believe that the Conservatives are large enough to self-regulate, and to field candidates that anyone has heard of. For example, missteps associated with a small party are magnified and its many opponents can easily pigeonhole the party by its embarrassing moments. Pro-Brexit voters were still pro-Brexit when voting for an MP, but the question was, “Do you favor Brexit AND trust the UKIP over the established parties?”

    I agree with the point about MEP versus MP. Many Americans re-elected their Congressman to “keep bringing home the bacon” but also voted for Trump to shut down the pork farm.

    PS — Expecting the Washington Post to render an honest interpretation of anything, especially the “meaning” of British municipal elections, is absurd.

    • I am Brexit through and through; indeed I think that every country should exit the EU until such a point that the remnants of the EU is a small retirement home for failed and drunked politicians somewhere in rural Belgium.

      However, when I lived in the UK, I voted Tory at local and National elections as they were (at least at the time) the only party with some semblance of competence when it comes to governing (no offence to the esteemed proprietor); but EU elections was my chance to make my feelings on the EU felt and it was UKIP every time. I also donated to UKIP throughout – even as I was voting Tory!

      When it came to the EU referendum I had left the UK for pastures new; I could vote in the referendum and mulled over the decision for many a rum and ginger, but decided that the point of the referendum was to take control over foreigners making British laws – so didn’t vote as I thought that a foreigner voting on UK laws would be slightly hypocritical!

    • Likewise I gave to the Libertarians for many years, but my vote for President was always based on whether the Republican was good enough and whether my state was in play. Now I give to no one (as there is an Ethics database, and it is not to police the parties) but vote Libbie for Governor so they get enough to keep a third column on the ballot and make petitioning easier for the next crop.

      See, a minority-party MP can’t actually get stuff done, maybe not even sort out constituent complaints with the bureaucracy. So the question is whether you want a voice in the government, or just the power to break ties occasionally. I am assuming the UKIP did not field candidates in enough places to actually control Parliament. (Republicans in Massachusetts celebrate any election cycle where they could take the House — in theory — assuming everyone benefitting from government loot stopped voting their interests.)

      Another problem with a splinter party is: If you want my vote, you have to reflect my views precisely. Otherwise, I’m going with someone who might win. In 2016 Johnson/Weld were the biggest-name, but wobbliest, Libertarians ever.

  2. Spike: that’s how I voted this week for the noddy Regional Mayor position. It was a foregone conclusion Labour would get it so I used by first and second preference to do what I could to reduce his majority and try and get into the second round (<50%). It meant voting for who I would usually support the wrong way around to target the numbers 😉

  3. The local elections were a joke and affront when it comes to democracy. In our ward we could vote for 2 seats. There were basically 5 candidates, 1 LD, 2 Labour, 2 Conservatives. The lib dem actually went to the effort of knocking on doors and have reasonable local policies (Brexit really doesn’t come into the decision hear as the article pointed out) so that was enough to get the first vote. Then there was a big challenge of how to place the second vote. No direct information from them, and both Labour and Conservatives websites just had generic local election manifesto promises, not even any bio information about each candidate, there was no way to pick one of the two candidates. Its almost as if they think people will just blindly vote for a party without caring about the candidate.

    The parish elections were even worse, 13 seats, 14 candidates, zero information on the parish website. All you had to go on was name and address. The only additional information available was minutes of past council meetings which few people are going to scrutinise. For most people I imagine they just picked people they knew from the school gate, or people who live in the same road as them.

    Both markets and democracy require information to function effectively, without it then the will of the people is just being manipulated by the party apparatus.

    • The parish doesn’t owe you information. The LibDem understood the need and filled it himself. Good for him! Labour and Conservatives seem to think you will put their guys in City Hall based solely on the national manifesto.

      My town had 3 candidates for 2 council seats — like your parish, the perfect chance for voters to cast a vote against. We dis-elected the incumbent — the only candidate whose positions we knew in detail — in favor of the pleasant office clerk.

      • I’d probably be tempted to argue given that it is my taxes that go to fund the parish, and given that we are meant to be a democracy then the parish should owe me information. Given that the cost of providing that information would be almost negligible – half an hour to email the candidates, same time again to collate their responses onto a page/document that is posted on the already existing parish website. That should be part of the job of the parish clark or returning officer and so covered by any existing stipend.

        If only we lived in a true democracy…

      • I Want X. Given I am a taxpayer, and there are economies in government collecting X compared to 1000 taxpayers getting it for themselves, and the cost is manageable: I should get X for free. If I don’t we have fallen short of democracy!

        Sorry! this writer is from a country that was designed never to be a democracy but a republic, whose representatives would reply to such a request by apologizing to you that free provision of nice stuff is not among the Enumerated Powers.

        If you don’t want to read the papers or study the Council minutes, the League of Women Voters has a “Voters’ Guide.” Granted, they are leftie moonbats. But so are the Council bureaucrats you think should do the job for you. Free voter information will be almost as bad for you as free health care.

  4. A problem… well, one of the problems… is that the parish council isn’t the election authority, that is the district council. To find a list of candidate you have to go to the election office’s website – ie, the district council. And as local councils are banned from supporting or appearing to support any candidate at an election all you will find is just that – a list of the candidates. It is up to the candidates themselves to inform you about themselves.