The local elections have been a complete disaster for the Tories. They have lost over 1100 seats (as of 7pm today). They have lost nearly forty councils. They have been destroyed. It’s a humiliation.
However, if you just read the headlines, you might not get this impression.
The BBC has gone with this:
The Financial Times went with:
Pressure Mounts on May and Corbyn over Brexit deal: Tories and Labour suffer losses
The Guardian likewise is misrepresenting the situation, with an even stronger focus on Labour: Their headline points out Labour’s “heavy losses”, there’s a Freedland opinion piece criticising Labour and even a special write-up about Labour losing control of Bolsover council.
Just for a quick reality check, here are the actual results:
Have Labour gained a whole bunch of seats? No. But the media effort to conflate Labour’s minor losses with the complete trouncing the Conservatives have taken is totally dishonest.
Especially bearing in mind the disparity in press coverage – Labour routinely have smear campaigns run against their members and their leadership, including fresh (preposterous) allegations of “antisemitism” the DAY BEFORE the polling for these seats.
This is nothing new. Last year the local elections were portrayed as total defeat for Labour, despite making gains and winning 80% of the mayoral elections. The gains “were not big enough” and Corbyn was “humiliated”. If this was a humiliation for Corbyn….what on Earth is today for Theresa May?
The propaganda on this issue is two-fold, it’s not just minimizing the Tory losses to attack Corbyn’s labour, it’s also attempting to turn the UK into a one-issue nation. Every vote cast, the media tell us, was cast by people thinking about Brexit. Labour’s “heavy losses” are allegedly because of remain voters flocking to the Lib Dems or Green party.
This doesn’t even hold water in the media’s own narrative – Bolsover council, which the Guardian choses to focus on, has slipped from Labour control into a stalemate. Bolsover voted 70% for Leave.
The Tory government, and the craven local councillors, have increased poverty, increased homelessness, cut social care, cut unemployment, cut the NHS, cut everything. Police are down, crime is up. The rich and mega corporations refuse to pay their taxes without censure, whilst 10% of the country is being hit with council tax bills they literally cannot afford to pay.
Have some people voted against the Tory’s because they want to remain? Of course. But more than that, the Tories are the party of brutal austerity, declining living standards, desperation, poverty and a return to a quasi-Victorian social divide.
The people hate them, and if the press would do their duty and hold power to account, then this electoral embarrassment could have been even greater.