Historically, local elections are a bench mark for the opposition of how far away they are from government.
Since last year’s disastrous general election for the Conservatives, many pundits predicted Labour would continue their growth locally, placing them in an even stronger position come 2022.
However in the 12 month that have followed, Labour have had a serious of setbacks that may point towards last nights (May 3) disappointing results.
The bigger picture
Overall, with about a third of seat left to be declared, Labour failed to take several of their key targets from the Tories, including Wandsworth in London, but won back Plymouth and became the largest party in Trafford.
The Tories won Barnet and gained from a collapse in UKIP’s vote, celebrating wins in Basildon and Peterborough.
The Lib Dems regained control of Richmond, in London, from the Tories and gained seats elsewhere.
A stronghold for Labour, north London was seen as odds on to remain red. However with scores of Labour members expelled for anti-semitism, and numerous allegations of discrimination falling at Corbyn’s door – the safe council of Barnet fell from red control.
Barry Rawlings, the Labour group leader in Barnet, which has a sizeable Jewish population, acknowledged that antisemitism had been an issue. “I must say that in some wards where there is a large Jewish community, it has made a difference.”
One defeated Labour councillor, Adam Langleben, told the Guardian the party lost in Barnet because of “the inability to deal with this issue and to tackle antisemitism”.
He said: “Every Jewish Labour household we visited, people said, ‘Not this time.’ Activists were being told, ‘This is a racist party, an antisemitic party’, doors were slammed in their faces. We as Jewish Labour activists were told we were endorsing antisemitism.”
One reason the Tories have done better than expected, is the demise of UKIP.
They retained two seats – both in Derby – and lost a further 92 across England.