LGiU Statement – State of the Locals
Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive, LGiU said:
“Behind the headlines, an army of council employees have worked hard to ensure voting today has gone smoothly and many more will be working tirelessly through the night to ensure every vote is counted. Democracy couldn’t function without these unsung heroes.
That really matters because one of the elephants in the room when we talk about local democracy is just how low turnout is in local elections. Less than six in ten of us actually bother. It’s one of those facts that’s become so familiar that we forget just how shocking it is.
We’ve had a lot of elections over the last three years; at the same time there’s been a series of scandals from Grenfell Tower to Cambridge Analytica that have dented people’s confidence in democratic processes. Word on the doorstep is that there’s a degree of voter fatigue being expressed.
As far as what we can expect tonight, all eyes will be on London. Labour hit a 40 year high in vote share four years ago so we wait to see if they can improve on that. They have been campaigning hard in Wandsworth and Westminster. If they are able to take either that would be the big story of the night. Both Labour and Conservatives have been bringing out their best expectation management game and whatever happens we’re going to see some heavy spinning tomorrow. Aside from London, it’s also worth a close look at places like Swindon, Basildon and Southend – all bellwethers that tell us a lot about the national mood.
However, while people often read local elections as a simple proxy for national politics, we shouldn’t forget that they are actually about real local issues: homes, care of older people, school places, children’s services, libraries, streets and refuse collection. All the things that matter most in our day to day lives. It’s notable that many local candidates are distancing themselves from their national parties. They are right to focus on local issues and voters should as well.”