Nottingham politics expert says county election result spells ‘tricky’ general election for Labour

Dr Matthew Mokhefi-Ashton says dissatisfaction over the Brexit vote and the public's dislike for Jeremy Corbyn resulted in Conservative winning a majority in the local election.

A Nottingham politics expert has said the Nottinghamshire County Council election result is a ‘reflection of the national situation’ and believes voters currently have ‘no enthusiasm’ for Labour five weeks before the general election.

Nottingham Trent University lecturer Dr Matthew Mokhefi-Ashton says issues such as dissatisfaction over the Brexit vote and dislike for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn resulted in the Conservatives winning a majority in the local election.

He said: “The result of the council elections is obviously a reflection of the national situation – people across the country have no enthusiasm for voting Labour.

“Generally parties do better locally than those in power, but the local election is normally a good indication of how people will vote – for example; Labour in 1983 did really well locally – but lost at the General Election – it was a complete whitewash.

“In local elections it is always the case that people will vote at constituency level about local issues – and councils have had their hands tied behind their backs in terms of cuts and spending.

“But in this particular case people are not voting Tory vs Labour, it is more reflective of Labour weaknesses than of Tory strength.”

The final results showed a Tory lead in seats – but no overall majority. (Graphic: NCC).

Voters in Nottinghamshire went to the polls on Thursday (May 4) as part of 88 council and mayoral elections being held five weeks before the general election.

The Conservatives had gained control of five councils by 9am, while Labour had lost two.

The full results for Nottinghamshire were announced on Friday, ward by ward. The overall turnout was 35.2 per cent.

Prior to the election, Labour controlled Nottinghamshire with 34 seats, while the Conservatives had 21, the Liberal Democrats eight and the Independent Group three.

Labour leader Alan Rhodes held his seat but his party won 23 seats – eight less than the Conservatives.

After Thursday’s poll the Conservatives held 31 seats, Labour 23, Ashfield Independents five, Mansfield Independent Forum four, the Liberal Democrats one, and two other independent candidates one each.

Dr Mokhefi-Ashton added: “The current situation for Labour is very tricky as the party is split on so many issues – the million dollar question is about leadership and there is great pressure on Corbyn to stand down.

“Labour voters across the country who defected to UKIP won’t go back to Labour – they will vote Conservative because people want a big, strong, stable government.

“The local result reflects dissatisfaction over the Brexit deal as well as people’s dislike of Corbyn – it looks like the election is already over for them.”

Dr Mokhefi-Ashton says Labour will struggle to move forward if they do not secure enough votes in June.

“Corbyn cannot afford to be seen panicking. His strategy will be to say ‘we lost because the party is not united’ – but if he loses it will be very hard for the party to move forward,” he added.

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