May elections, does the bell toll or peal?

Dave Levy
5 min readMay 9, 2023

I have learned to wait before commenting on election results particularly since many local authorities now count on the Friday during the day to avoid the overtime bill and so unless one runs an exit poll, one can’t know until the weekend. Also, I’ve been away and avoiding the news but I wanted to make three points about the elections last week. Labour did well across the country, although there are one or two self-created greyclouds, Brexit is either less important or the pendulum has swung, and the Green’s finally get a result their positioning and polling deserves.

Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash

This is some controversy about how one projects from May 3rd to a general election which is likely to be held at least 12 months in the future. I am of the view the Labour did well and if last Thursday’s results were replicated across the country then there would be a Labour government with a solid working majority. Some disagree, and I link to the Guardian and Labour List opinions below; they both follow the Curtice line that these results are not good enough to get Labour a majority. I haven’t studied the statistical tools that they use, but if you plug the raw numbers into electoral calculus, it predicts a Labour absolute majority with a substantial Lib Dem presence in the new parliament. However, Curtice defends his view in an article in the independent, he argues that people don’t vote the same in a local election as they do for Westminster, he argues that the swing from the Tories to Labour is below that of its opinion poll lead, that winning seats in a first past the post election does not illustrate growing support, because Labour’s vote was not growing; it’s that the tories vote is collapsing. He says,

On average across 27 constituencies where it is possible to use the BBC’s data to compare the parties’ performances in the local elections with that in the 2019 general election, the Conservative share of the vote was down 19 points while Labour’s own tally was unchanged.

There were some important wins, in the South of England, including the capture of Dover council by Labour and the election of one of the country’s leading refugee rights campaigners as a Labour councillor in Folkestone and Hythe. This is a good result for Labour stretching across the county. The Guardian says, about Labour,

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Dave Levy

Brit, Londoner, economist, Labour, privacy, cybersecurity, traveller, father - mainly writing about UK politics & IT, https://linktr.ee/davelevy