IT WAS meant to be a victory lap for Sir Keir Starmer.
Partygate, the cost-of-living crisis and an ailing economy had set the Labour Party up perfectly for a triumphant set of local elections.
But instead – much like the leader himself – the results were very much a damp squib.
For all the talk of the Tories losing seats, it wasn’t Labour who were the ones who benefitted.
The Conservatives have, by now, lost well over 350 council seats – a disaster for Boris Johnson, and an implication that traditional Tories are punishing the party.
But those Tories aren’t turning red, by any means – they’re staying home. Labour gained just over 50 seats – a massive disappointment, despite expectation management.
Westminster, Wandsworth and Barnet did all fall into Labour hands. But obtaining London votes has never been an issue for the party.
And rather than the Red Wall ‘returning’ to the Labour Party, it was the Liberal Democrats who smashed the Blue Wall instead.
Sir Ed Davey and his team haven’t necessarily been barnstorming campaigners ahead of this year’s elections, but a reasonably coherent message on Brexit and the cost-of-living crisis meant they gained nearly 200 seats.
And if Blue turned Yellow, then it was the Greens outflanking Labour from the Left – almost doubling their tally.
Jeremy Corbyn noted on LBC on Friday that voters still weren’t sure what Starmer’s plan to deal with their multiple crises were. And he’s right.
The former Labour leader stormed the equivalent seats in 2018, including – most crucially – those outside of London.
Meanwhile, according to Sky News analysis, this time around London was the only region in which the party gained ground.
To add insult to injury, a quietly but bizarrely triumphant Keir Starmer is now under investigation over ‘Beergate’.
Suddenly, the victory parade may turn into a case of hunkering down for survival.
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