Britain: Governing parties hammered in council polls

Issue 

“Two years of brutal Con-Dem cuts and failings have left the nation seeing red as Labour gained hundreds of seats across local councils today,” Britain's Morning Star reported on May 4.

The article said the council elections took place against a “backdrop of a double-dip recession, despite massive cuts to jobs and services”. The Conservative Party lost 11 councils to Labour and the Conservatives' coalition partner in government, the Liberal Democrats, lost one.

About 5000 seats were at stake in the vote on 181 local councils across England, Scotland and Wales. The Morning Star said Labour gained more than 600 seats as the Morning Star went to press, with the Tories having lost more than 300 and Lib Dems losing more than 150.

The left-wing Respect party, whose leader George Galloway dramatically won a huge victory in the Bradford West by-election in March on a clear platform of opposing war and spending cuts, won five seats in the Bradford City council. Its website said it defeated the leader of the Labour group Ian Greenwood.

Across the wards, Respect won in Manningham (57.5%), City (56.1%), Bradford Moor (42.1%), Heaton (39.6%) and Little Horton (47.8%).

The Greens Party of England and Wales held most of its council seats and increased its overall tally by three, to 22. Its website said: “All across Britain people felt that the gap between the rich and the poor was too scandalous to ignore …

“People have grown tired of the lack of difference between the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats and have voted accordingly.”

The Morning Star said trade unions argued that huge local council spending and job cuts, due to the decimation of their budgets by coalition austerity measures, contributed to the results.

It reported that Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said the coalition was "paying the price" for its policies, with 625 public-sector jobs lost every day since the general election in May 2010.

He said: "The voting results today show that the country has had enough of the coalition's austerity Britain and of no-hope, dead-end policies that have dragged the country back into recession.

"Voters have said a massive No to drastic cuts to vital council services such as libraries, leisure centres, day-care centres for the elderly, careers advice for our young people and the closing of Sure Start centres."

The Morning Star said Tory MP Gary Streeter blamed the poor performance on the party not being right-wing enough and Tory foreign secretary William Hague blamed the Lib Dems for blocking Conservative Party policies.

The article said: “Hapless Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg described himself as 'really sad.'”

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