by Phil Duncan

Last week local government elections were held in many parts of Britain.

As expected Labour did very badly and the Conservatives did pretty well.  In addition, the Welsh nationalists advanced and the Scottish nationalists stalled.  And UKIP was annihilated.  The Liberal Democrats’ ‘resurgence’ failed to emerge.

The Conservatives gained 563 council seats and Labour lost 382.  Plaid Cymru gained 33.

The Conservatives made progress in some traditional Labour heartlands, including the poorest council area in the whole of Britain, which went Tory.  Labour also lost control of Glasgow for the first time in decades.

The Tories displaced Labour as the largest party in terms of council seats in Nottinghamshire, Lancashire, Cumbria, Northumberland and Derbyshire.  The Tories are now going on the offensive in Labour heartland parliamentary seats across the north of England and in the Midlands in the run-up to next month’s general election.

The local government electoral map of Britain now shows Scotland as “no overall control” (ie no one party has a council majority anywhere), Wales as predominantly “no overall control” and England overwhelmingly under the control of the Conservatives with patches of “no overall control” (like Cornwall and Nottinghamshire) and a few Labour remaining strongholds in London, Liverpool, Manchester and parts of the Midlands and Yorkshire.

Labour was virtually wiped out electorally in Scotland by the SNP in the last British general election.  Last week they lost 133 council seats there, while the Tories gained 164.

Much of the British left seems depressed by the results; the working class, not so much.  Despite the odd view of much of the left that the British Labour Party is some sort of ‘workers’ party’ rather than a capitalist management team, the working class isn’t all that interested in the party.

The turnout in the local government election was around 30%.  Most workers simply don’t vote or identify with Labour.  Other sections of workers vote for the Conservatives.

Most workers simply don’t believe that voting Labour serves their interests.

Indeed, statistics published in The Guardian on May 9 indicate that the Tories are well ahead of Labour in terms of working class support.  The Tories have the support of 50% of C1 voters (supervisory, clerical & junior managerial, administrative, professional occupations), compared to Labour’s mere 26%; the support of 43% of C2 voters (skilled manual occupations) compared to Labour’s 31%; and the support of 42% of DE voters (semi-skilled & unskilled manual occupations, unemployed and lowest grade occupations) compared to Labour’s 35%.  (See “Will Corbyn remain Labour leader come what may? First, he must match Milliband’s vote share”, Guardian, May 9, 2017, here.)

Jeremy Corbyn, the man who was/is supposedly going to ‘renew’ the Labour Party as some kind of left party, seems to have his heart in the right place, in the sense of wanting a fairer society.  But he appears as a somewhat ridiculous old duffer, clinging onto a view of Labour that wasn’t much cop when it was true 40 years ago and today is just wildly out of kilter with what Labour is.

After the elections, he put out a ridiculous statement saying “The results were mixed.  We lost seats but we are closing the gap on the Conservatives.”  The reality is that Labour can’t even guarantee holding a swathe of its heartland seats.

Translated into a general election result, the Tories would romp home, albeit with only 38% of the vote and Labour would be reduced to a meagre 27%, and that will be the end of ‘the Corbyn phenomenon’.

Moreover, despite his image of cloth-cap bicycle-riding goodness, Corbyn can’t/won’t even defend his own left friends from scurrilous attacks from the Zionists.  Instead he lets them be suspended from his party, another indication of what a waste of space Labour is regardless of who leads it.

If I was a voter here I wouldn’t have bothered voting.  I don’t vote in NZ and, really, the British LP is no better than the NZ one.

The local election results reveal, it seems to me, two main things:
* A big majority of workers here don’t see Labour as their party and the far left needs to catch itself on to this.
* Workers see their material interests within a nationalist economic framework and the Tories have managed to recapture that ground in the Brexit environment.

Some months back, veteran left political analyst and commentator Kenan Malik asked: “What is Labour for?” and concluded, not much.  I’d say, they still serve a purpose for British capital.  Eventually Tory governments get exhausted and a fresher capitalist management team is needed.  That’s Labour’s function.

Meanwhile, the Brit left is paying a heavy price for its auto-Labour delusions and its own long capitulation to British nationalism and British imperialism.

Like NZ, it would seem that Britain needs a whole new Marxist left.  One not attached by some kind of life-support system to the senile, reactionary British Labour Party.


  1. doug1943 says:

    Yes! A new genuinely-Marxist party, far to the Left of Labour, advocating Open Borders, nationalisation of the whole economy under workers’ control, abolition of the monarchy, disbandment of the police and military and their replacement by a revolutionary workers’ militia, 100% taxation of all income over £50,000 a year and immediate confiscation of all wealth over £100,000 … such a party would get a very different share of the vote than the paltry 25% Labour is getting now.

  2. Phil says:

    That’s rather silly. What it would do is represent the long-term material interests of the working class rather than being committed to managing the interests of capital, which is what the British LP is all about.