By Andrew McCann
May 6th 2019
“A bomb is made to explode. That’s its mission, its purpose in life”, said Dennis Hopper to Keanu Reeves in the 1994 thriller ‘Speed’. In a not dissimilar analogy, the Conservative Party (since at least 2015) was made to deliver Brexit. That’s its mission, its political purpose in life. In the way an unexploded bomb was “just a cheap gold watch” according to Hopper, a Conservative Party in possession of an undelivered Brexit is a dying zombie of an outfit, destined to do little other than preside over its own fall from public grace.
The Conservatives lost around 1,300 councillors on Thursday. I’ll wager few actually deserved to lose their seats. They did so because of two reasons: Theresa May and her toxic Brexit agreement. After the Conservatives unexpectedly won an overall majority in 2015, the fate of the party became inextricably linked with the delivery of both the Brexit referendum AND the outcome of that referendum. Because it has had two leaders determined to give us the first but not the second, it finds itself trapped in the headlights. Unless it is able to remove the sociopath who sits in Number 10 – happily and knowingly destroying the expressed wishes of 17.4 million voters – its trajectory in terms of popularity can only be downwards.
This brings us to the plight of ‘Steptoe’ and his rag-bag Labour Party. For an Opposition out of power for nine years to stand still in terms of electoral popularity is one thing. To actually make a net loss of councillors and councils in the face of a government openly eating itself is quite another. And where were the bulk of those losses? Where I expected them to be – in the Midlands and the north of England. Because if Labour wants to be a Party of Remain, cocooned in its own tiny luvvy bubble in NW10, that’s fine. But the lesson of these elections is if it ever wants to form a government in its own right again, it too will have to deliver Brexit. Jezza can win as many North Kensingtons and West Norwoods as he likes; he won’t form a majority government if he loses the heaviest Brexit-voting areas of the country – and they are all between Milton Keynes and the Scottish border.
Finally, the Lib Dems. Only a party so obsessed with shackling this country to the Brussels’ bosom could possibly claim their results were a shift to a Remain-inclined nation. Yes, they won over 700 seats, which is an impressive tally. That said, let’s not forget the Lib Dems made gains against their worst ever result in 2015….and still ended up with winning fewer councillors than in either 2003 or 2007. I’d be very careful about laying on the smugness if I were Vince Cable. If there are no lifeboats left on a sinking ship, people will cling to any old plank. That’s all this ‘surge’ represents. Nothing more.
Where are we now? Be prepared for the Brexit Party to eat the Tories and Labour alive should the Euros take place in just over two weeks time. For the fundamental flaw in the leadership of both parties is they thought they could effectively stand in front of the Blackpool Tower holding up ‘Welcome to Paris’ signs and thinking the electorate was too thick to notice.
Well, we aren’t. So grab the popcorn.