Polls lie – votes don’t – why did we vote this way?

The people of England voted against the Conservatives on Thursday – they were unified in that.

Those people were not so clear about the alternative, Labour picked up over 500 seats lost, the Liberals over 400 and the Greens close to 250.

We know what we don’t want , the challenge for us is to work out the alternative.

There were swathes of England that didn’t vote and the May Elections didn’t catch the mood in Scotland or Wales.

But this was the largest plebiscite on what happened last year to date. And it was conclusive.

Throughout 2022, we had no way to express our frustration with the behavior of the Conservative parliamentarians. They had given them a vote of confidence in 2019 and they blew the mandate they’d been given.

Looking at the faces of deposed conservative council leaders yesterday, you could see the hurt and sometimes the anger. They had been let down by their MPs and especially by the senior conservatives who had and have shown no willingness to govern wisely. I use the present tense as we await the next scandal as an inevitability.

What is surprising, and worrying for Labour, is that this is not a massive vote of confidence in them. There remains a strong wish for Liberals and Green politicians to make local decisions. Voting Green is no longer a protest vote, it is a vote for a better way of doing things, a vote for the Liberal Democrats revives a long-held view among many voters that the decisions taken since the end of the coalition have been bad decisions/

The challenge for Keir Starmer is to convince those who voted Liberal and Green to get behind the Labour party, rather than split an opposition vote as happened in 2010.

I am not a political expert, but I’ve had a lifelong interest in politics and the way we are governed. I expect the votes cast on Thursday to be respected both by the losers and winners.

The Conservative party has to come clean and accept that under the leadership of Johnson and Truss, they let Britain down. That the current Government, stronger and more respectable as it is , is repairing damage, not moving the Country forward from where we were in 2016 or even 2019. We have been badly let down by the Conservative party and we need to see some humility.

Keir Starmer needs at this point not to be triumphal , but serious. He needs to take dead aim at his goal, creating a Government that from 2025 can manage Britain with the optimism and verve we saw in the early years of the Blair/Brown Government from 1997.

If he cannot bring with him , the voters who backed Liberal and Green candidates on Thursday, he must work with them, as the Labour party failed to do in 2010.

I suspect that nobody realistically expects us to see a Green or Liberal Government but neither Conservatives or Labour will be able to ignore the message given out in these May elections, that they are representing a different thinking, one that needs respect and representation in decision making.

Local and national politics are different and minority views tend to be swamped by bi-partisan politics when it comes to General Elections. However, the moment we have this weekend, as we look back at how we voted last week, should be noted and remembered for the votes cast, the seats won and lost.

The English people have spoken, they are unhappy and they are moaning.  Others will speak between now and the next general election. The results show there is no clear alternative to a Conservative Government and there is much confusion. Brighton, the one town to vote in a Green MP, did not vote a single green councilor.

It would be easy to dismiss these results as  a protest vote and point to anomalies like Brighton and Slough to discredit them. I suspect that Conservative Central Office is already working out a way to articulate this view.

But that would be to trivialize the people who took the trouble to vote and the democratic process. These elections are of profound importance to the way we are governed in the second half of the decade. Opinion polls may lie – but votes don’t.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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1 Response to Polls lie – votes don’t – why did we vote this way?

  1. byronmckeeby says:

    Do we make too much of council elections when voter turnout is notoriously very low?

    I’ve struggled to see how low in media reports, because that’s not the story they wish to tell, but I did see 22% in Hull, for example.

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