Sunday, June 30, 2024

GUEST POST Councillors changing party: general election update

Rather to his surprise, Augustus Carp finds himself offering an update on the latest trends in councillors changing party.

I am not particularly good at political forecasting.  I had expected a quiet summer, with just a slight peak in the number of local council defections in the run-up to the local elections in May. 

Well, it’s only been eight weeks since then, and a grand total of 115 councillors have changed their political allegiance one way or another.  Some have had it changed for them, by way of expulsion or suspension. 

In any event, that’s a net figure of 85 defections once movements in different directions are taken into account; those changes are bound to have an impact on the leafletting, canvassing and telling operations of the parliamentary candidates in those areas.

Clearly, the general election has caused a number of people up and down the land to reassess the way they want their political ideals to be made manifest. Five councillors have resigned in order to stand as Independent General Election candidates – three Conservative, one Labour and one Lib Dem. 

A Tory in Sussex has gone Independent having publicly supported a Labour parliamentary candidate, and in a famous case discussed in this forum, an East Anglian Lib Dem has been expelled for supporting tactical voting with a little too much enthusiasm.  

A net 29 Conservatives have left the party that saw them elected, but that number is exceeded by the 43 who have left Labour. The Lib Dems have lost eight, the Nationalists four and the Greens one. Six Conservatives have joined Reform, including four who have formed a group in Tendring, which covers the Clacton constituency. 

Most defectors seem to join a new party after a few months as a notional Independent (broadly defined) but there have been six instances of councillors immediately changing Party labels – two from Labour to Lib Dem, one from Tory to Lib Dem, one Tory to Green and one each way Labour to Tory or vice versa. 

The Conservatives and Lib Dems have both (on paper) lost control of councils as a result of defections, but it’s the Labour Party who seem to be nurturing nascent opposition groups within their bosom – new Independent groups have formed out of the Labour Party in Flintshire, Hackney, Kirklees and Worthing.  

Anyway, here’s a forecast – depending on what happens after 4 July, the number of councillor defections is either going to decline slightly or accelerate out of all proportion, depending on the Conservative Party’s relationship with Reform. Who knows, I might have to start counting MP defections as well.

Augustus Carp is the pen name of someone who has been a member of the Liberal Party and then the Liberal Democrats since 1976.

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