Lazy eyes listen
The Conservative Party lost over 1,000 council seats in Britain’s local elections on Friday, with the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats splitting the spoils.
Sunak’s party had obtained 2,299 of just over 8,000 seats with 229 of 230 councils reporting on Saturday afternoon, losing 1,058 seats. The Labour Party gained 536 votes, while the Liberal Democrats gained 405 votes. Independent councillors lost 80 seats, but the Greens gained 481, tripling their presence on local governments.
The Conservative Party was forced to relinquish control of more than 40 councils, including Medway in southeast England, which it had ruled since the late 1990s. Labour leader Keir Starmer congratulated his party on its victory in Medway, telling supporters that “we are on course for a Labour majority at the next general election.”
Local elections in the United Kingdom are sometimes perceived as referendums on the ruling party. The Conservatives have been in power since 2010, yet the final year of their reign has been turbulent. Boris Johnson resigned as prime minister in disgrace last summer over the ‘partygate’ affair, only to be replaced by Liz Truss, who managed to crash the value of the British pound in her six weeks in office with a budget that featured billions of pounds in tax cuts.
The party promoted Sunak, a former banker, as a steady hand who could restore economic stability. However, food and energy prices have continued to climb under his leadership, and the UK is on track to be the world’s worst-performing large economy this year, according to IMF estimates.
Local elections, on the other hand, are determined on local matters such as potholes, parking fees, and rubbish collection. After losing 1,330 seats in the 2019 municipal elections, the Conservatives won a resounding majority in the general election less than six months later.
Sunak told reporters on Friday that the results were “disappointing,” but he was “not detecting any massive groundswell of movement toward the Labour Party or excitement for their agenda.”