Let’s answer the headline question straight away: This Writer doesn’t think so.
Keir Starmer’s announcement that he’s abandoning yet another pledge – this one to strengthen the rights of UK employees – probably came too late to influence the results of last week’s council elections.
It’s more likely to be part of a long-term shift towards Independent candidates that we saw enacted across the country at the local elections in May.
For clarity: the Ayresome ward in Middlesbrough has been won from Labour by an Independent candidate:
Ayresome (Middlesbrough) council by-election result:
IND: 36.1% (+9.6)
LAB: 33.4% (-13.7)
LDEM: 22.8% (+14.6)
GRN: 3.6% (+3.6)
CON: 3.4% (-14.8)
IND: 0.6% (+0.6)
Votes cast: 880
Independent GAIN from Labour.https://t.co/uAfQiqEPIy
— Britain Elects (@BritainElects) August 18, 2023
This Writer knows little about the winner apart from her name: Jackie Young. From what I can see, she is not a former Labour Party member, as so many of those who took seats from Keir Starmer’s party in May were.
My guess, then, is that she was offering policies that voters in Ayresome actually wanted, as opposed to the current Starmer Party we-do-what-we-want-because-you-have-to-vote-for-us nonsense. I’m willing to stand corrected if necessary, but experience suggests that’s how it is.
Remember what happened in May, when and expected Starmerite landslide turned into a trickle of extra seats for Labour while the Green Party and a large number of Independents who had been booted out of Starmer’s party (or had left of their own accord) cleaned up?
Here’s a reminder from Vox Political‘s article of May 5:
But the biggest kick in the teeth for the main parties – especially Labour – is the strong performance of councillors who have been expelled from that party for being too left-wing (other excuses are available).
Usually when a person leaves a political party – or is, as in these cases, removed – and stand as an independent, they sink without a trace. Look at the performance of the Labour quitters who formed Change UK while Jeremy Corbyn was in charge, and then lost their seats in the 2019 general election.
Instead, independent left-wing candidates are retaining their seats across England.
Here are a few examples:
This is in Portsmouth:
This is in Windsor:
To me, this indicates that people are starting to give up on political tribalism – they’re not all voting for candidates just because of the name of the party those people represent.
Instead, they are voting for the people they know will represent them.
We should bear in mind that these are council elections in wards with low electorates and low turnouts.
But council election results are regarded as forecasts for general elections.
The times are changing. The Parliamentary elites have tried to dictate the policies we can support and the people available to get our vote – and across the country, people are saying they’re not going to put up with it.
It’s the way we are. We’ll put up with a lot – but there come a point when someone will try to tell us what to do and we’ll say: “No.”
Keir Starmer won’t learn any lessons from this. My impression is that he’s too deeply into the pockets of right-wing donors to hear the pleas of those who actually vote election candidates onto councils and into Parliament.
Let us hope they make their message clear when the general election is finally called.
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