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The local elections results were a nightmare that portends a general election defeat

The local elections were a disaster for Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party and to do otherwise is utterly wrong. But the excuses keep coming.

This was all about London and a wider realignment, the Tories claim; they compensated by doing well in the Rote Wand; there was a sudden surge in college graduates who are now somehow guaranteed to vote left; the fact that Labor has not been particularly strong outside of London is what really counts; and people were just angry at a short-term set of circumstances beyond government control.

Keep calm and move on, the ostriches say: the tax-and-spending left-right-under Blair strategy will pay off in the end.

This is insane, and all of these claims and excuses are false. Yes, there were bright spots for the Tories like Nuneaton, but they lost nearly 500 seats overall, ripped apart the coalition they had patiently built – and inadvertently reverted to a disastrous early-2010s-style 35 per cent strategy, albeit with a different demographic.

Not only did the Tories do appallingly in London, they did far from well enough in the Red Wall as well, and that was before the cost-of-living crisis took hold.

Yes, Labor’s local performance was underwhelming: losing seats in areas like Barnsley and the Hull Council to the Lib Dems. But Labor took Kirklees, Rossendale and two-thirds of the seats in newly formed Cumberland, where the Tories have three MPs.

They also have 20 MPs in Wales and Scotland, half their working majority: their performance here too was a disaster.

Wales voted Leave and experienced a partial Tory renaissance that has now been reversed. The Welsh Tories lost their only council and nearly half their seats. They had also established themselves as the best unionist alternative to the SNP in Scotland, but fell back to third place. The party could survive the loss of 10 seats in the capital if it gained more elsewhere – but the loss of that plus another dozen in the decentralized nations, the same amount in the Red Wall and another dozen in the Blue Wall Sir Keir Starmer (or a convincing successor) would be number 10 at the head of a left-wing coalition.

That’s why highlighting Labor’s somewhat lackluster share of the vote misses the point: the Tories need an outright majority of seats in Westminster, but Labor doesn’t; it would simply form a coalition with the SNP and the Lib Dems. Nicola Sturgeon would call the shots. With Sinn Féin’s success in Northern Ireland, the Union can bear no more chaos.

Even if it were true that the Red Wall is uniquely loyal to Boris Johnson, the post-Brexit coalition is not limited to the northern working class, but also relies on the support of traditional Tories, including suburban, rural and emerging and should also include young people who want to buy a house and start a family.

It is no coincidence that many of these lost London seats are home to large numbers of millennials living in rented accommodation, and the painful failure of a government that has been in power for 12 years to address the absurd cost of housing goes to the heart of its self-destruction.

A triangulating strategy that seeks to appease everyone by avoiding insults by anyone alienates those who should be natural conservatives but increasingly have no part in the system.

The green agenda, meanwhile, has not reaped any electoral gains: the Tories continue to bleed well-paid college graduates, the target audience, and anger others.

The London brawls were felt hardest in areas where they were supposed to sweep, and were completely or almost completely wiped out in many other areas of the capital.

In Richmond, the Tories have just one councilor left, down from 39 in 2014. The fact that they took over both Harrow council and Croydon mayorship at the same time shows the night didn’t have to be so bad – in fact, they did It’s routinely forgotten that 40 per cent of the capital voted to leave (44 per cent in Greenwich, now with only three blue councilors) and that local issues of crime, taxes and low-traffic neighborhoods should play into the hands of a populist centre-right target group Lower middle class workers and voters of all backgrounds.

It is galling that the Tories have failed to engage with the London suburbs and have instead taken measures (bizarrely often put forward by the London Mayor and City Councilors) that are making life for their former core constituency more difficult and expensive.

Last Thursday wasn’t a realignment, it was a nationwide disaster. It was also the start of something worse: for Red Wall voters, the pain has only just begun.

If the Bank of England’s forecasts are only half correct, by the end of this year we are headed for a recession that will combine rising unemployment with catastrophic inflation – a cruel mix that brought Britain to its knees in the 1970s. Notwithstanding that the left-wing opposition alliance would propose even worse solutions, the path of a Tory government that hikes taxes while bills triple is ominously predictable.

Unless the government changes direction very quickly, these local results will portend something much worse.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2022/05/07/local-elections-results-nightmare-portends-general-election/ The local elections results were a nightmare that portends a general election defeat

Linh

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