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It takes some chutzpah to argue that CON & LAB local losses were down to Brexit but that GRN and LD gains weren‘t

May 7th, 2019

I’ve just come across an article by Mike Hume on Spiked online that argues that Brexit was the main reason why the Tories and LAB did badly in the local elections last Thursday. But the same article goes on to argue by implication that this effect did not help the Lib Dems and the Greens, both strong pro-remain parties, to achieve all their gains.

I’d respectively suggest to Mr Hume that you can’t have one without the other. This is from his piece:

“The local elections became the outlet for a national outpouring of anger, frustration and ‘fuck the lot of them!’ over the Brexit debacle in Westminster. The humiliation of Theresa May’s two-faced Brexit-betraying Conservatives and the failure of Jeremy Corbyn’s dishonest Remainer Labour Party both confirm Brexit’s status as the defining issue in British political life.

It does not much matter today what your policies are on the bins, or anything bigger. Brexit and the crisis of British democracy is now what every election is about. The dustbin of history awaits any who doubt it..”

Actually I think that he is totally misreading it. Firstly he seeks to define the only “true” Brexit as being leaving without a deal, Secondly Labour is not a Remain party although many of its supporters would like it to be.

The problem that both CON and LAB face at the moment is not Brexit itself but that they appear to be split and all the experience of the past suggests that voters don’t like divided parties. They want clarity.

The issue that is splitting the Tory party is the argument between the hard no-dealers and those who want to implement the referendum in a manner that least damages the economy.  But it is not Brexit itself but the divides it highlights within the party that makes it less attractive to voters. Labour has a similar issue with the relationship between Corbyn and the vast bulk of his MPs. The image portrayed is split party and that, in low turnout elections like the locals up does not help with turnout.

Mike Smithson