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UK politics: England local election results explained ahead of UK general election


Millions of voters in England vote on Thursday in a number of local Electionsthe last great test before the coming one Great Britain a general election in which all indicators suggest that the Labor Party will return to power after 14 years in the wilderness.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak barely managed to point to any major success for his Conservative Party, confirming that the electoral coalition that brought the party a landslide victory in the 2019 general election has collapsed, if not completely, in a series of political dramas and a crisis of the cost of living.

For Labor leader Keir Starmer, the results provided confirmation of what opinion polls have been showing for two years – that Labor has recovered from its lows in 2019 and is on course to win the election comfortably. Here are five things we learned:

British Labor Party leader Sir Keir Starmer with East Midlands Mayor-elect Clare Ward during a visit to Forest Town Arena in Mansfield. (Jacob King/PA via AP)

Will Sunak face rebellion?

Although the Conservatives lost around half of the 1,000 council seats they held and suffered a landslide defeat in a by-election in Blackpool South, a coastal resort town in north-west England, it appears that Sunak will not face a rebellion simply but by worried MPs in his party.

This is largely due to the fact that the Conservative candidate in the mayoral race in the Tees Valley in north-east England is holding on, albeit with a much-suppressed vote. That helped calm some concerns despite losses elsewhere.

However, the incumbent mayor’s Conservative defeat in the West Midlands could spark a fresh bout of anxiety among lawmakers who are increasingly concerned about their ability to retain their seats in a general election.

Sunak is under pressure from various wings of the party to go further to the right or move to the center.

Overall, the results show that Sunak has not improved the Conservatives’ overall position after the damage caused by the actions of his predecessor Boris Johnson, who was effectively ousted and then replaced by Liz Truss, whose tenure lasted just 49 days after her economic policies rocked the financial markets.

Conservative Party candidate Lord Ben Houchen, left, with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak after his re-election as Mayor of Tees Valley in Teesside. (Owen Humphreys/PA via AP)

When will the general election be?

Like Australia, in the United Kingdom the date of the general election is in the hands of the Prime Minister. That should happen by January, and Sunak has repeatedly said his “working guess” is that it will take place in the second half of 2024.

While this could theoretically happen as early as July, most Conservative lawmakers have indicated that the best time would be the Northern Hemisphere autumn (the Australian spring), when recent tax cuts may register with voters, inflation has fallen further and interest rates may have been cut – helping to fuel an economic feel-good factor.

Waiting until autumn could also give the government a chance to cut taxes again in another budget.

Conservatives will also be hoping that the controversial plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda will have started and that there is evidence that it is acting as a deterrent to those wanting to make the dangerous crossing in small boats across the Channel from France to England.

Counting begins for the Blackpool South by-election at Blackpool Sports Centre. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

Is Labor on its way to power?

Historically, Labor has a mountain to climb if it wants to form the next government. Its performance in the last general election in 2019 was its worst since 1935. Starmer sought to return the party to the center of UK politics after the leadership of veteran leftist Jeremy Corbyn.

Starmer’s approach has clearly worked if Thursday’s results are anything to go by. Labor won control of councils in England, which the party has not held for decades, and succeeded in a large-scale retreat from the Conservatives in Blackpool South, which, if repeated in a general election, would lead to a large majority.

Labor won in areas that voted to leave the European Union in 2016 and were crushed by Brexit supporter Johnson, such as Hartlepool in northeast England and Thurrock in southeast England. He also seized control of Rushmoor, a leafy and military council in the south of England where he has never won, showing he has a broad base of support.

It’s fair to say that levels of enthusiasm are far below those that heralded the arrival of Labour’s Tony Blair ahead of the 1997 general election.

This may be due in part to a more challenging economic environment, but Starmer, a former human rights lawyer, lacks Blair’s irascibility.

British Labor leader Keir Starmer and his wife Victoria leave a polling station in his Holburn and St Pancras constituency. (Stephan Russo/PA via AP)

Will it be a landslide?

One of the factors that contributed to Blair’s landslide victory in 1997 came from so-called tactical voting, in which some voters set aside their political preferences and vote for whoever has the best chance of defeating the party they most oppose. they are very opposed. In 1997 it was the Conservatives.

Tactical voting resurfaced and was somewhat evident in Thursday’s election, where Conservative candidates lost to other parties, not just Labour, but also the centrist Liberal Democrats and also the Green Party.

The Conservatives may also be overtaken from the right, with Reform UK poised to field candidates across Britain. It was a minimal turnout at Thursday’s election, but where the party did perform, it clearly took votes away from Conservative candidates. This was noticeable in Blackpool South, where the Reform candidate was just shy of usurping the Conservatives into second place.

If the reform, which claims to be tougher on issues such as immigration and Brexit, does well in a general election, it could lead to victory for other parties, notably Labour, the Conservatives.

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Does Labor have a problem with Gaza?

It certainly seems that way.

In some areas with large Muslim populations, such as Blackburn and Oldham in north-west England, Labor candidates appear to have suffered as a result of the leadership’s strongly pro-Israel stance on the Gaza conflict.

Labour’s vote share was clearly affected, but the effect on its general election performance remains unclear, as these seats with large Muslim populations tend to have large Labor majorities.

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