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7 may 2016, normal service is resumed (temporarily)

Saturday, May 7th, 2016

I can't help but love reading the runes of elections, and this week's "locals" in the uk were the biggest single set before the next general election, as well as brief respite from the otherwise politically-dominating referendum. Let's start with the conservatives, in government, at the centre of several small-bore scandals and u-turns, as well as being hopelessly split on europe and so who should have been expected to do relatively badly. In fact they held their own. The reason for this was labour. With a new leader they might be expected to be in a honeymoon period - think cameron or blair one year in, both pretty much all-conquering. They didn't. Behind the headline win in london (against a nasty negative conservative campaign) and the general "slow steady progress" narrative against good expectation management that created fears they would lose badly, this was a very bad set of elections for labour, and catastrophic again in scotland, where they are now no longer even the official opposition (as unionist forces coalesced around the modish scottish conservatives). Two peaks and a flatline. The handsome winners in scotland were again the nationalist snp, but there is a sense they have peaked and a new norm of more effective opposition that will one day topple them (south african anc-style) may just be discernible. It's a high peak though they will be happy with. Less so ukip, who some headline-grabbing first seats in the welsh-assembly aside, have little to boast about this time around, which is perhaps strange given europe has dominated the news these last months. Whatever the referendum result, a major crossroads looms for them, as they have not a bad basis to embed themselves across the country as an angry right-of-mainstream alternative. For that, they need to put europe behind them and avoid becoming a nasty anti-immigrant party, not easy given those are the two issues virtually their entire membership and story are built on. The liberal democrats are hardly worth a sentence: they survive. They lost stockport, where we live, labour becoming the largest party, with 23 of the 63 seats. The lib dems have 21 and the conservatives 14. Our own heald green yet again easily returned the local independents, whose 3 seats previously kept the yellows in power: we may well then be living under our own traffic light coalition. I can only hope it does a better job of fixing the ever-increasing number of potholes.