Andrew Castle 7am - 10am
Call it a draw
5 May 2018, 20:55 | Updated: 5 May 2018, 20:58
It was the week of the very important local council elections that hardly anybody appears to care about.
This seems odd because the local council affects your daily life more than the national government.
They are the people that clear your rubbish away, keep the streets clean, run the library, child care, pensioner services, schools, transport, make planning decisions, manage parks, provide play areas and clean up the doggy-do.
Local councils do not have the glamour or cachet of national government, but they have a greater effect on our lives, just like the weather forecast at the end of the news is usually the only part of the bulletin that affects us personally.
And yet, almost no one could be bothered to vote.
People missed going to the polls because they needed to go to the pub after work, or were in an area where it rained, or they forgot it was voting day or they couldn't remember where the polling station was or they just flat out couldn't be bothered.
The turnout was about 30%. In some areas, they couldn't even reach that.
And what did we learn? Nothing.
The right-wing press (henceforth known as simply “the press”) declared it a victory of historic proportions because Labour didn't flatten the Tories
But as the Tories and Labour were absolutely level on 35% of the vote each, it takes a pretty big squint to see that as a major victory for either side.
The main parties are like two old sluggers, collapsing after pounding each other to a standstill.
The problem for Labour was that certain people in their ranks got excited and overestimated what their party could do.
The Conservatives, meanwhile, dampened down expectations.
On the basis of how each side publicly stated they might fare, it looks like Jezza lost and Tezza won.
It was not much of a win for the blues though, after the biggest negative campaign against any politician in memory failed to sink Jeremy Corbyn.
He just won't die. He seems indestructible.
It must be infuriating for the people that run the nation's favourite newspapers who have been gunning for him ever since he declared that he would look into the concentration of ownership of news outlets.
That caused a wailing fit that you could hear from the off-shore tax havens their owners inhabit and they have been after his hide ever since.
The big headlines were that Labour failed to win in Wandsworth and Westminster.
I have lived in Wandsworth and I work in Westminster and if Labour had won either of those two councils it would have been a miracle.
God herself would have had to engineer such a feat.
The reason that the Tories are never going to lose Wandsworth is that they have one of the lowest council tax rates in the country.
The highest you pay in the biggest house in the area is only £1445
Compare that to Richmond, for instance, another Tory council, and its £3277 – more than double – for the same band.
Wandsworth is a flagship council for the Tories and they have managed to keep the council tax artificially low to hang on to it.
Wandsworth is also about as aspirationally middle class an area as you will ever see. They would be as likely to vote Labour in Wandsworth as would the audience on the opening night at the Covent Garden Opera.
And did anyone seriously think that Kensington and Chelsea would not vote Conservative, or that Westminster would swing to the left?
The reason the press are calling these Labour failures is that some dopes in Labour said that they might win those councils.
When the inevitable happened it looked like a loss, instead of a draw, which is what happened over the country as a whole...or the 30% of the country that could be bothered to express a preference.
It’s a nation divided and there was no clear winner.
One thing that has become clear though, is that UKIP's got no mates.