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What do Thursday's results mean?

Mike McCartney

9th May 2021

There has been a lot of analysis of how parties performed at the ballot box (especially Labour), so who should we listen to?

Every Monday I try to employ a Media Monday slot whereby students bring in a politics news story of their choice and present it to the rest of the class in five key points.

This week I think there will be lots of discussion of the recent election results.

I hope students have zeroed in on the commentary by Sir John Curtice, Professor of Politics at the Universirty of Strathclyde and Senior Research Fellow at the National Centre for Social Research.

Here, for example, he was quoted in Saturday's paper:

"Dissecting the result on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Professor Curtice said: “The last time the Government won a by-election was in Copeland in 2017, the swing on that occasion from Labour to the Conservative government was the order of six points.

“We’re looking here at the Conservatives enjoying something like a 16 point swing since the 2019 general election.”

Explaining why the result was a blow for Labour, the number crunching professor said: “What I think Labour will worry about is that they haven’t at least managed more or less to hold their own share of the vote.

“Labour’s share of the vote is down by nine points, so this isn’t simply a case of Brexit Party voters going to the Conservatives, it is also a case of the Labour party losing ground, and it has to be said that this is a pattern we are also finding in the handful of local elections results that have been declared over night.

“We’re seeing Labour losing ground quite heavily, particularly in those places where the last contest was in 2016 and particularly (and) above all in places that voted heavily for leave in the 2016 referendum.”

He added: “The Labour Party in the last 12 months, its strategy on Brexit has seemed to be to say as little possible, to harry the government on other issues but not to talk about Brexit in the hope that this would mean the party would begin to make itself available and supportable by Leave voters, well the opinion polls have been saying throughout the last 12 months this is not working.

“(There is) no evidence at all of the Labour party particularly gaining ground amongst the Leave voters that they lost in 2017 in 2019, and now we’re getting confirmation of that already in the ballot boxes not just in Hartlepool but also in other parts of England.”"

Read the rest of what he had to say on Labour here: https://inews.co.uk/news/polit...

Professor Curtice has also written in broader terms on the significance of the vote on Thursday. On the BBC, he wrote:

"Two key themes have emerged from the results of Thursday's elections declared so far.

First, ruling parties have done well, rewarded perhaps by voters who, thanks to the vaccine roll-out, believe the worst of the pandemic may now be over.

Second, Brexit continues to make a difference to how many people vote."

Full analysis, plus a host of useful stats can be found here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-...

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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