Local Elections 2018 – ‘Nothing has changed’

Theresa Mays’s now infamous retort has now entered the political lexicon after her manifesto u-turn last year.

Unlike elections and referendums in 2015 2016 and 2017, we got a result where little changed at least outwardly. In the Local Elections 2018 we saw the largest parties achieve a score draw. Had this been a Westminster Election we would have had another Hung Parliament with similar numbers to 2017.

Sky News

So what can we deduce from the Local Elections 2018?

As usual, there is the caveat that locals are not historically a great predictor of General Elections but they do show us the undercurrents in our political system and shape the media narrative.

Let’s not also forget strength at local council level is the key to capturing Parliamentary seats.

The Conservatives won the battle of expectation management and post results spin. To lose seats and councils but get a media narrative as positive as this was a real achievement.

Conversely, Labour lost the expectation setting game (See HERE) despite winning the most votes and the most seats albeit not gaining any Councils. Its fair to say Labour activists were doing victory laps on social media in the final week of the campaign and party HQ failed to put that right in the mainstream media.




The Conservatives were predicting (deliberately) an electoral ‘bloodbath’ (see HERE ) in London that never materialised.

There seemed little doubt that the Anti-Semitism row affected Labour in key areas yet the Windrush scandal hardly seems to have dented the Conservatives.

The Liberal Democrats results were better than they expected and fed a media narrative of a slow but now steady recovery from near wipeout in the 2015 General Election.

The Conservatives will be pleased with Labour’s perceived ‘failure’ to break through but more concerned at the Lib Dem revival.


It seems certain that the results of the Local Elections 2018 show us that the redrawing of political loyalties we saw in the 2017 General Election are here to stay.

The Conservatives are truly the party of Brexit now with 75% or so of their vote coming from Leave supporters. That will embolden Conservative Brexiteers to push for a ‘harder’ Brexit and may sound the death knell for the ‘Customs Partnership’ option favoured by the Prime Minister. That’s assuming, of course, the House of Commons don’t force the Customs Union option upon the Government in the next few weeks.


Many commentators are talking about ‘Peak Corbyn’ and saying that these results show Labour can’t win a General Election.

We should be cautious about this as in a General Election turnout would be twice as high and the Campaign much more intense and high profile.

That said if an Election isn’t held soon then it’s inevitable that Corbyn won’t be such a fresh face anymore. Remember no Opposition Leader has won a second General Election in the last 40 years.


Where once we talked about the North-South divide and the Working Class Middle Class divide these results confirm what we saw in 2017. A new divide is now plain to see

Younger Metropolitan Voters v Older Socially Conservative Voters

Big Cities versus Towns and Rural Areas

Leave versus Remain

The Conservatives have precious little representation in all the major UK cities bar London yet govern the country that’s a very different picture to 20 years ago.

In a couple of days time, the Local Elections 2018 will be forgotten and I suspect Brexit will top the News Agenda again. In the meantime the political world takes the briefest of Bank Holiday breaks to catch up on lost sleep before hostilities resume.

Richard Dawson