The Labour Party has tanked in the English council elections, at a stage in the electoral cycle where every experienced person knows an opposition party would be expecting to pick up a minimum of 800 English council seat net gains. On today’s figures, they are nowhere near achieving an overall majority at Westminster, even ignoring the massive negative momentum against them. Labour have a swing of -8% against them compared to the 2012 local council elections.
Labour played the game of negative expectations in a massive way, claiming a net gain of 150 seats would be a victory for them. So far they have a net gain of just 82. But the extraordinary thing is that the BBC have, throughout the Breakfast News period – the largest TV news watch of the day – been unable to add up all the council seats yet. Sky has totaled every single one of the council seats declared overnight, while the BBC has been able to total under half – and the BBC has come up with a Labour net gain of 102. This has enabled the BBC to show a three figure Labour gain on its strapline all morning, and lead every news bulletin: “Major gains for UKIP in English local elections. Labour has also made gains. A poor night for the Conservatives and Lib Dems”.
That the BBC, which has more regional reporting staff than Sky by a factor of 30, is unable to tally the seats of all the councils declared so far, while Sky had done it all night very efficiently, is remarkable. And when Labour has made net gains of only 82 overall in the overnight declarations, to get a Labour net gain of 102 out of just over a third of the declared seats is virtually impossible for the BBC to achieve except by deliberate action. The BBC have cherry picked the very few areas where Labour has moved forward and ignored areas where they suffered losses. Precisely what one would expect from the BBC.
The fact that Labour cannot form the next government shows the people of Scotland they have a very simple choice. Tory rule or Independence. What the UKIP surge shows is that nasty xenophobia is rampant in England. The Tory party will move even further to the right to capture some of this ground – and so will New Labour. We could well see a Con/UKIP Westminster coalition after 2015.
So if you are Scottish, these are your only certain choices for the future:
Independence or Tory Rule
Independence or Leave the EU
It is as simple as that. The BBC will nevertheless try to hype the remotely vanishing possibility of a New Labour government instead, to appeal to tribal loyalty. Though why anyone would want New Labour who kick-started tuition fees, NHS privatization, academy schools and are obsessed with nuclear weapons, is beyond me. There is no choice open of a social democratic UK.