Theresa May’s local victories are good for the Union cause but give no comfort to special status fans

  A note of caution is needed about  talk of a Tory landslide on 8 June. Although UKIP was obliterated in the GB local elections,  Labour might have done even worse.

Michael Thrasher’s projections of the local results to the general election “ for a bit of fun” on Sky News   works out a majority of  48 seats, up a respectable 36 but well short of a landslide and barely worth  the trouble of calling a snap election.

John Curtice, election guru extraordinaire warns on the BBC

The outcome of the general election is not a foregone conclusion

Mrs May is hoping to secure a landslide, but the 11-point Conservative lead in the local elections is less than the party’s current average lead of 17 points in the opinion polls.

Indeed, it is only four points above the lead David Cameron had in 2010, which only gave the party an overall majority of 12.

Winning a landslide is likely to come about as a result of a big double digit lead over Labour, but the party fell somewhat short of that target in these elections at least.

ITV News political editor Robert Peston is less cautious.

What does it all mean?

Well it reinforces the idea that the Tories are heading for a landslide on June 8 – though you won’t hear May or any senior Tory even hinting at that, because they are terrified their supporters will become complacent.

Perhaps more importantly, the Tories seem to be re-establishing themselves as a genuinely national party in a way they have not been since Thatcher and Major 25 years ago.

They are picking up support all over England and in Wales, rather than largely in the wealthy south east, where they are always strong. And we will see later today whether their recent partial rehabilitation in Scotland is gaining momentum.

The Guardian is equally bold, extrapolating  from the BBC’s figures.

The projection that May would be within touching distance of a 100-seat majority is born out by the BBC projected national vote share of 38% Conservatives (up three from 2015 local elections), Labour 27% (down two), Lib Dems 18% (up seven), Ukip 5% (down eight) and others on 12%. This implies a 2.5% swing from Labour to Conservative or a Commons majority of 56 compared with the 2015 local elections.

But in 2015 the Tories went on to poll even better at the subsequent general election, as happened in both of Margaret Thatcher’s landslide victories in 1983 and 1987. On the basis of this marginals analysis, May is heading for a majority of 80-100.

Prof Will Jennings of Southampton University and the Polling Observatorysaid the results confirmed that the Conservatives were looking at a sizeable victory on 8 June, but added it was still not possible to be sure of the scale. He said that, crucially, the results confirmed the national polling picture of the Conservatives enjoying an unassailable lead over Labour and steadily peeling off Ukip voters, while also making gains in Scotland.

“The big uncertainty is how turnout will affect the final margin,” he said. “Events like the mayoral loss in Tees Valley suggest Labour may be in for a harrowing night unless something dramatic happens during the remainder of the campaign.

The Tory surge in Scotland is remarkable  but is largely at the Labour’s expense, not the SNP’s.  Although the  SNP are still comfortably Scotland’s largest party after 10 years in power, their aura of invincibility has taken an inevitable dent   If reflected in the general election  the  trend would surely  push Indyref2  further away without by any means disposing  of it altogether. Brian Taylor, veteran BBC Scotland pol ed emphasises SNP consolidation at Labour’s expense as well as  big Tory gains.

 The SNP is recording gains in various councils – but the Tory advance is consistent.

For example, in Aberdeen, the SNP put on seats to become the largest party. The Conservatives put on even more to push Labour into third place.

This probably reflects the nature of contemporary political discourse in Scotland, defined as it is by attitudes to independence as well as the UK-wide topic of Brexit.

The SNP have made substantial gains in recent elections, most notably in the 2015 UK General.

The Conservatives have, deliberately and precisely, sought to counter that by projecting themselves as the most formidable defenders of the Union, edging out their rivals.

Remember too, that the Scottish Tories used to stand under the banner of the Unionists. Without changing their name back, they are now doing so again.

What might  these elections mean for Ireland north and south?

The annihilation of UKIP  in England has vindicated May a former luke warm Remain supporter, donning the mantle of Leave and wrapping the Union Jack around her in Scotland too. Her critics might concede that the Tory gains there owe nothing to the rise of  English nationalism but a lot to Leave sentiment and opposition to  Indyref2.  Remain looks  more redundant than ever unless it accepts defeat  for the cause of a second referendum and retrenches  to argue for a long transition period in the single market.

With endless repetition of the mantra  “strong and stable,”  it  will be harder than ever  and out of  character as far as we can judge, for May to do a U turn and bid to join the single market on Remain terms. No deal looks a lot more likely. She will surely feel a strong sense of obligation to all those voters transferring from Ukip. But  you never quite know – remember de  Gaulle  with his “Je vous ai compris” to  the  pieds noir  and then went on to take France to the brink of civil war in order to quit Algeria?

 

 

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  • nilehenri

    i have a blog that i tinker with, nothing to be proud of, and this evening i was surfing for some content to fill out a few photos.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/604eb2c7f7a5ea3bd12b0ef43ec8f3a4ff9a8beaac5fb2b0c795a36694729292.png

    plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

  • Jim Jetson

    It seems like the ROI politicians are worrying more about NI than people in NI are. Do you get how serious Brexit is for your economy, the future of your statelet? Do you understand that your young people may have to emigrate in even greater numbers now as a result of Brexit? When is the penny going to drop?

    Is the Union absolutely everything to you? Above your economy, your livelihoods, your young people, the future viability of your state?

  • Jim Jetson

    I’d also point out that English nationalism, and that’s what this is, that’s what Brexit is and that’s what Tory victories like this are, is perhaps not such a good thing for the Union of England with other political entities? Does it make Scotland more or less likely to leave?

  • Marcus Orr

    Sorry to be so pedantic, but “Je vous ai compris” was the phrase from de Gaulle to the pieds noirs in Algeria.

  • aquifer

    The impact of Brexit could end up comparable to a small war. Remember the last big one, when Churchill offered Devalera the North if he would join in? Needs must.

  • Fear Éireannach

    I’m not sure that these elections in Britain make much difference. May was always insular in here thinking, left to her own devices she would regulate traffic in ports and figure out what was going to happen on the land border as an afterthought. The EU, coming from places which are not islands, have said that the land border is the tricky one so lets clarify what you want to do there first. If she was smart she could identify NIs position as needing some integration with the rest of the island and frame this in a way which would suggest that it would be totally mad to reduce integration on the neighbouring island. Special status for NI could save the UK twice, it would reduce pressure for any poll here and it could save Scotland also by emphasising the need not to have a land border.

  • Marcus Orr

    De Valera was never going to take up Churchill on that offer, he reckoned at the time (1940) that UK was a goner and that the victorious Germans would probably do the same work for him in ceding the north.

  • hgreen

    Ignoring the rise of English nationalism. Unionists or nationalist, do we really want to be ruled continuously by a right wing Conservative party? I’m guessing that the majority of the population here in N.I. do not support the destruction of their public services.

  • Marcus Orr

    “bigoted, colonial Empire Britain ”
    UK has not had a colonial empire since about 2 generations, do you really have to keep taking those cheap shots ?

  • Marcus Orr

    Actually it is true that the election result is no foregone conclusion. The Lib Dems will rebound from their terrible result last time round and will be more competitive to the conservatives in South & South East England. And it is always a risk to call an election out of the blue in the hope of strengthening your majority – voters often react negatively to these kinds of strategic manouvers.

  • AntrimGael

    Maybe not an Empire but colonialism lives on in Ireland, Gibraltar, Falklands etc and most certainly the British are currently displaying a racist, xenophobic mindset.

  • AntrimGael

    The DUP most certainly appear quite content to be ruled ad infinitum by a right wing Tory government. Given that they are the largest Unionist party one should assume that yes that particular constituency is also happy to be clinging on to May’s high heels.

  • Brian Walker

    not at all – thanks – a typo not a flaw in my fluent French

  • ted hagan

    Surely the way forward for Northern Ireland is for all parties here to unite to seek a special case for the state and ensure special status within Ireland,
    Or would maturity be asking too much of our politicians?

  • Fear Éireannach

    Maturity is well beyond our politicians.

  • Dan

    Nonsense
    The way forward for NI is for May to deliver the best deal for the United Kingdom.

  • Old Mortality

    ‘The rise of the Tories in Scotland doesn’t surprise me either. There has always been a very sectarian, Unionist element in Scotland that wraps itself around the Conservative/Unionist/Rangers party.’
    What facile guff. Perhaps it would be true to say that the Irish population in Scotland has never voted for the Conservative party in any numbers, but the Conservatives’ core constituency was traditionally rural Scotland, except for the highlands and islands plus the affluent enclaves of the cities, particularly Edinburgh.

  • Dan

    public services in Ni havent been served well by the clowns of Stormont, who havent had the courage to make any difficult decisions.

  • Old Mortality

    Since they don’t contribute very much to financing them, they are hardly ‘their’ public services.

  • Dan

    Here’s an idea. Worry about your own wee state instead. We’ll be just fine on our own.

  • ted hagan

    Thanks

  • hgreen

    Nonsense, even by your low standards.

  • hgreen

    The DUP aren’t the majority and I’d guess many people vote for them for fleg rather than economic reasons.

  • mac tire

    I agree with you in a way.

    Dev was never going to take the offer; you’re probably right, he likely reckoned on a German victory (in 1940 it looked possible).

    But if Britain was invaded, Ireland would be too and Churchill’s offer would have been worthless in that scenario. He would have got a United Ireland alright – under Nazi rule!

    Bear in mind also (and I say this as an Irish Republican), Churchill’s offer would have been seen as opportune since he would have had to face down Unionism (considering its strength at that time), who were not consulted about this, if he were to stay true to his word.

    I’m certainly surmising, but I’m sure Dev would have looked at the offer as “fine words in a dark time” and amounted to a vague promise without any evidence it was possible or even probable.

  • hgreen

    Ha ha yea what we need is “strong and stable government”.

  • Robin Keogh

    Of course yes, in an ideal world the best deal for the uk should be a grand deal for all regions. However, in all likelihood the Irish part of the UK will suffer, as May and the Tories scrap with Europe to protect England.

  • Robin Keogh

    A Tory landslide would be quite a boon for both Scottish and Irish Nationalism.

  • Robin Keogh

    Very good

  • james

    Hence, one supposes, De Valera’s profound and sincerely expressed sadness over the death of Hitler.

  • Croiteir

    The experience of false promises from England before the Great War informed him of the folly o engaging with those who cannot keep their word.

  • Croiteir

    Or indeed Nick the Greek’s attendance at Hirohito’s funeral, damn awkward thing protocol

  • aquifer

    Churchill as a navy man would have loved to have had the treaty ports in the West, only lately ceded by the Irish, back to tackle the German submarines. Cork and Cobh could have covered the Southern Approaches. Remember that the German submarines had already given the British severe problems in the first world war.

  • aquifer

    But joking aside. The Brits in a position of weakness know better than to fight on two fronts. Carrickmacross or Calais? They want to keep Cairnryan.

  • james

    You’d probably say that about just about any possible result, though, wouldn’t you. A United Ireland is clearly imminent – just as it always has been, and always will be 😉

  • The Irishman

    Good to see you back Robin.

  • Marcus Orr

    Obviously that’s not the case as the inhabitants of Gibraltar and the Falklands (to the tune of 99% plus) insist on being British and N. Ireland is not a colony – it has full representation and elects MP’s to the national parliament.
    To vote to leave the EU is not racist or xenophobic – you can’t brush stroke over 17 million people in that way.

  • Marcus Orr

    Actually he should have been looking at his own countrymen, Redmond and the IPP agreed that Home Rule (law passed and already in the books) should be suspended until the end of the War, and Redmond rather enthusiastically supported the War effort.

  • Zorin001

    It does has an element of Xenophobia though, we can’t whitewash that entirely.

  • Zorin001

    If the GE results replicate this then it’s good for May and the Tories but bad for Democracy. At the time we most need a strong opposition to save the country from the worst of Tory excesss we simply don’t have one.

  • The Living End

    South Africa is not a colony but a strong colonialist mindset survives in a section of the population

  • Marcus Orr

    Wanting to have control of your own laws does not equate to an irrational fear / prejudice against foreign countries.

  • Granni Trixie

    Sf colluded in sharing out the spoils, only putting their hands up when the clamour over RHI forced their hand.

  • leoinlisbon

    ‘They are probably also getting their own back for Celtic gubbing their team 5 – 1 last week. I kid you not !’

    Yes you do.

  • Jeff

    Given the rise in Tory support in the Scottish council elections and the overall pro union vote, I can’t see the snp getting anything like the support they want in order to become independent. I really do think they have maxed out and as their general incompetence in health and education let alone the economy shines through I can only see a gradual reduction in support.

  • Lex.Butler

    Blame the Dutch then…

  • Old Mortality

    OK. Let me put it another way. Could they enjoy the same standard of ‘their’ services if they had to finance them from their own resources. The collective kindness of friends (or strangers to some).

  • Old Mortality

    And Cairnryan wants to stay as it’s in Scotland’s emerging blue zone.

  • mickfealty

    You got the least bit of evidence for any of this AG? It’s all green ink and far too little original thought.

  • Robin Keogh

    Thank you

  • Robin Keogh

    Well it’s really just a case of cause and effect. It looks like the Snp have held their vote share with a slight increase for the greens. So the Tory surge is a mopping up of labour votes mainly. Will that surge have a motivational effect on Indy supporters come June 8th? That’s the question.

  • Enda

    When you mention United Kingdom in that context, what you’re really saying is Britain, and only parts of Britain at that, and that’s IF a best deal can be achieved, which according to May’s stubborn English attitude, might not be on the cards.

    Personally I find it lamentable that there are people on this forum, looking at a poll that they could not be a part of, to try and fit it into the Irish narrative. What the hell is wrong with some people. Does democracy mean anything around here, or is British ar5e sniffin’ good enough for some dumb northern Paddies?

  • NotNowJohnny

    This is just meaningless rhetoric, commonly resorted to by people who can’t figure out what the best deal for Northern Ireland would look like.

  • Robin Keogh

    One of the problems here is the fact there are no votes for the major London parties. So, there is no reason for British government policy to take into account northern concerns.

  • ted hagan

    If you bothered to study the history of the Scottish nationalist movement you would discover that not that long ago it took root as a small, largely Protestant party that favoured independence and in fact was feared by many Catholics because of what it might mean for them in these ‘new’ Scotland. Your post, meanwhile, reeks of prejudice.

  • Mark Petticrew

    Do you get how serious Brexit is .. for the future of your statelet?

    That’s the ironic thing about all this, in that unionists last June – 66% of them according to a 2016 QUB study – overwhelmingly voted for something that has done more to put the union in harms way than anything else in recent years.

    For instance, alongside the 26.8% who’re solidly in favour regardless, 67.6% of those categorised as “broadly nationalist” in a 2016 LucidTalk poll are now said to be considering Irish unity in the wake of last year’s vote to leave the EU.

    Indeed, these current state of affairs remind me of the following excerpt from Michael Ignatieff on unionism here in his 1993 documentary Blood and Belonging:

    That’s the tragedy of loyalism. If they are abandoned, it won’t be because they lacked loyalty, but because they were too loyal.

  • Dan

    More nonsense

  • Dan

    The best deal for Northern Ireland will come from a strong and successful United Kingdom.

  • ted hagan

    So why do people vote SF then?
    Mirror image comes to mind.

  • SouthernMan

    “Unity” is another word for special status.

  • hgreen

    Ok let me put it another way. Could Orkney enjoy the same standards of services if they had to finance them from their own resources? Or Cornwall?

    Many here seem quite happy to mentally raise a border between N.I. and GB when it suits their argument. We are part of the UK or we are not. Regional wealth disparities occur in all countries.

    The economic argument for remaining in the U.K. is disappearing fast.

  • Jim Jetson

    On your own? Are you joking? You require £10 billion in taxpayer transfers from the South East of England just to keep the lights on.

  • hgreen

    Indeed it will. Continual Tory destruction of our public services will hopefully make us consider our options like the Scottish and walk away from perpetual English Tory rule.

  • NotNowJohnny

    More rhetoric and equally meaningless. What do you think the best deal for Northern Ireland would look like?

  • Enda

    Good retort, speaks volumes to the validity of your argument.

  • nilehenri

    good to see you back.

  • james

    Protocol, hmm? Which other countries had Presidents or Prime Ministers or whatever sending condolences for the death of Hitler?

  • AntrimGael

    Well for a start police forces in Britain have reported an upsurge in physical racist attacks since the Brexit vote while many non British ethnics will tell you they have also been on the receiving end of increased racial abuse.
    The Scottish Independence referendum also seen a large Unionist/Rangers REMAIN group wrap themselves around the Union Flag and engage in verbal and physical attacks on LEAVE campaigners in George Square. This crowd have now aligned themselves with the Scottish Tories.
    The Welsh are the butt of jokes and disrespect across England for the very reason they stand for nothing except being the doormat for the English. Consequently they are treated dismissively as a weak, compliant, servile people.

  • Timothyhound

    How? Any chance of rational dialogue and debate? Brexit trashes inward investment for example. Do you even care?

  • james

    Come now, Robin…

    Is there any possible result in this election that you would predict as being bad for Irish nationalism?

  • erasmus

    Not to mention official British attendance at Stalin’s funeral.

  • Robin Keogh

    Well James. I suppose the point I am trying to make is that the Tory party is the one party in these Isles that has acted as a red rag to nationalists of all heues. On that basis it’s reasonable to assume that a tory surge is very likely to motivate nationalists.

  • aquifer

    And during the Brexit campaign the DUP funded AggregateIQ, a secretive data analytics company targetted voters with tailored messaging. Right wing US millionaires subverting UK democracy, using facebook data. And who were the donors to this part of the DUP e-campaign? Not local people. Ref Observer New Review Sun 5 May.

  • Zorin001

    Just read the article, we have entered the cyberpunk future indeed; just without the interesting trans humanist parts.

    I see there has been a last minute attempt to influence the French election too, take your pick on who that was.

  • Zorin001

    Of course not, but to deny that there hasn’t been an element of Xenophobia running through the whole Brexit issue would a naive.

  • james

    Do you think that either of Labour or the Lib Dems performing well at the polls would be a bad thing for Irish Nationalism?

  • Croiteir

    And what has that got to do with the price of eggs?

  • james

    You are excusing De Valera’s geotesque and inexplicable decision to send his condolences, on behalf of the Irish people, to the Germans over the death of Hitler on the requirements of ‘protocol’ as a national leader. I’m pointing out that no other head of State felt bound by such illusory protocol.