While the Indy movement rips into itself over whether to march or not, yet unites around the media bias (have to say BBC Scotland online news did report organiser’s and Police estimates of the number of marchers and it was top story for the afternoon), a lot of England went to the polls last Thursday.
At first glance, the outcome of mayoral and council elections tells us very little. Tories wiped out the UKIP vote south of Birmingham to largely increase their overall representation in local government. Theresa May can breathe a sigh of relief that there wasn’t too much in the results to give her internal opponents grounds for complaining. To be head of one of the most unpopular, nay hapless, governments since… well, since John Major’s administration all of 25 years ago.
The Lib Dems had a good night in relative terms. Cashing in on their staunch Remainer status paid dividends in the type of upper middle class boroughs such as Richmond, Kingston, Sutton, where they do well. Even the odd gains against Labour in ‘up North’ is no real sign that they are going to come close to their high watermark of 2010.
Labour made some inroads by increasing its total tally by 200+ councillors. Gaining Portsmouth was the biggest prize of the night for Corbyn and hid the disappointment of poor results in London and losses in Derbyshire – the kind of county that acts as a bellwether for parliamentary success.
Anti-semitism clearly cost them the opportunity to take Barnet Council in London and it’s good to see at least John McDonnell admit this, even if Corbyn still appears lukewarm in reaching out to Jewish communities.
It does beg the question though: how can Labour ever win a general election if, at the high point of constitutional and economic uncertainty over Brexit, they can’t make dramatic gains in local elections. What has happened to Labour’s momentum over Momentum’s labour?
With another Labour MP quitting the Commons for a position in devolved administrations, Corbyn is still struggling to unite the many in his own party.
Not that there is likely to be a General Election for some time yet. Even if May doesn’t survive a soft, hard or ‘no deal’ Brexit, it doesn’t look like the Tories will go rushing to the polls quite as quick in future.
Meanwhile, here in Scotland: Scottish Labour keeps on voting for the Tories. First in Aberdeen and North Lanarkshire. Then more recently in Falkirk. Now in Midlothian. Just where is the socialist leadership in Scotland that thinks shoring up Tories in Council chambers is a better move than working in partnership with the SNP?
Mr Leonard needs to step up to the mark and give his local government colleagues a steer about political priorities: supporting the many who don’t vote Tory versus the few who do.