The Northern Irish local elections of 2023-pushing further towards polarisation

The Northern Irish local elections of 2023 continued and sharpened trends seen in the 2019 Northern Irish local elections, 2019 general election (allowing for pacts that took place), and the 2022 Northern Ireland Assembly election in many respects. Sinn Fein (SF) topped the poll for the first time in Northern Ireland's local elections, winning a total of 144 seats, an increase of 39 from 2019. Under Mary Lou McDonald's/Michelle O'Neill's leadership, Sinn Fein has flourished on both sides of the border, and nationalist votes have been coalescing primarily around them; furthermore, the nationalist-inclined population of Northern Ireland is increasing faster than that of the unionist-inclined population. Notable highlights for SF include taking overall control of Fermanagh & Omagh council and topping the poll in Derry & Strabane and Armagh City, Bainbridge & Craigavon for the very first time; normally due to STV with DEAs usually containing 5 or 6 seats apiece

The English local elections of 2023-Conservatives pay the penalty for failing to put a stop to sleaze and sewage in our rivers

The English local elections of 2023 (Northern Ireland's elections will finish next week and a separate blog post will be devoted to these) not only resulted in more than 1000 Conservative losses just as Rallings & Thrasher and Sir John Curtice predicted, they also resulted in sweeping Green and Liberal Democrat gains across the nation-sending a hard message to the Conservatives about the need to protect our environment and Labour for barely acting like an opposition at all. The Conservatives in total made a net loss of 1,061 seats, with the vast majority being in the shire districts where they once dominated-even councils such as Bracknell Forest and Surrey Heath, which they held in 1995 and 2019, fell, to Labour and the Liberal Democrats respectively in those two cases. Who they lost to varied widely by the nature of the authority-their losses to Labour came mainly in (ex) industrial "Red Wall" areas where they had made against-the-trend gains in 2019 or fared better

Election predictions for 2023

First of all, my sincere apologies for the hiatus. I have just been taking a break from blogging for a while. If the 2019 elections were dreadful for the Conservatives-they were their worst since 1995, in fact-the 2023 elections will be abysmal. Even in traditional heartlands Conservative candidatures-let alone the number of seats that will elect Conservative councillors, even accounting for boundary changes that have usually reduced the numbers of seats on said council-have decreased, a key example being Suffolk. Whilst Labour has regained considerable trust amongst the public under Sir Keir Starmer's leadership since the "Partygate" scandal that led to Boris Johnson's downfall, Labour's complacency on many councils means that they will be by no means home and dry come election day, and already there are signs that Labour's strong poll lead over the Conservatives may not last until the next general election, which is likely to be in autumn 2024. Although the

My analysis of local by-elections from the last half of September 2022

Readers, the results of British local by-elections from the last two weeks of September 2022 were as follows: (22/9/22): Coventry MBC, Sherbourne : Conservative 1,409 (51.2%, +12.2%), Labour 895 (32.5%, -7.4%), Green 139 (5.0%, -4.2%), TUSC 125 (4.5%, +0.2%), Liberal Democrats 94 (3.4%, -1.4%), Coventry Citizens 92 (3.3%, +0.6%). Conservative gain from Labour; all changes are since May. Gwynedd UA, Llanuwychllyn : Plaid Cymru 368 (95.8%), Liberal Democrats 16 (4.2%). Stoke-on-Trent UA, Bentilee & Ubberley : Labour 469 (62.8%, +28.6%), City Independent 143 (19.1%, -1.1%), Conservative 138 (18.4%, +10.7%). [UKIP and For Britain did not stand] Wealden DC, Maresfield : Green 651 (61.2%, +30.3%), Conservative 411 (38.8%, -23.3%). Green gain from Conservative. [Labour did not stand] (29/9/22): Argyll & Bute UA, Kintyre & The Islands (1st preferences) : Independent (Redman) 591 (32.7%, +16.3%), SNP 525 (29.1%, -0.8%), Liberal Democrats 265 (14.7%, -1.7%), Conservative 194 (10.7%,

My analysis of British local by-elections from the first half of September 2022

  Readers, the results of British local by-elections from the first half of September 2022 were as follows: (1/9/22): Redditch BC, Headless Cross & Oakenshaw : Labour 767 (41.9%, +17.7%), Conservative 686 (37.5%, -25.4%), Liberal Democrats 274 (15.0%, +9.3%), Green 102 (5.6%, -1.6%). Labour gain from Conservative; all changes are since 2021. Worcestershire CC, Arrow Valley West : Labour 1,342 (53.7%, +17.4%), Conservative 893 (35.7%, -15.5%), Green 146 (5.8%, -0.9%), Liberal Democrats 120 (4.8%, -1.0%). Labour gain from Conservative. (8/9/22): Arun DC, Barnham : Green 786 (50.9%, +19.1%), Conservative 641 (41.5%, +11.3%), Labour 116 (7.5%, -8.0%). Green gain from Conservative. Cannock Chase DC, Hednesford North : Labour 290 (38.1%, +4.8%), Chase Community Independent 228 (30.0%, +2.6%), Conservative 208 (27.3%, -12.0%), Independent (Harborow) 35 (4.6%). Labour gain from Conservative; all changes are since 2021. Hartlepool UA, Foggy Furze : Labour 443 (43.9%, +23.8%), Conservative 3

My analysis of the Swedish general election of 2022

The Swedish general election of 2022 generated some surprising results, despite also averting pollsters' predictions significantly. The last three years in particular proved to be a rough ride for the Social Democrat led governments of Stefan Lofven and Magdalena Andersson respectively. Although Sweden's laxer approach to the COVID-19 pandemic (compared to most countries in Europe, which imposed lockdowns during much of 2020 and 2021, an approach that arguably caused more problems than it solved) proved effective, Mr Lofven's desire to lift the austerity tax (which only affected a wealthy minority, similar in nature to the wealth tax initiative of former French President Francois Hollande) and to join NATO proved contentious, with two of the Social Democrats' former coalition partners (the Swedish Greens and Swedish Left Party, who had both pulled out of confidence and supply) unsurprisingly voting against Swedish accession to NATO membership (all other parties in the R

My tribute to Mikhail Gorbachev

  Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the USSR, died yesterday. Like many of his contemporaries behind the former Iron Curtain, Mr Gorbachev grew up in humble surroundings, his parents working on collective farms in rural Russia. He rose through the ranks of the CPSU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union) to reach the Politburo in 1980, just five years before he became Secretary-General (de facto leader of the USSR). He was expected to succeed Yuri Andropov upon Mr Andropov's death in 1984, but Konstantin Chernenko was selected instead. Mr Chernenko died the following year and Mikhail Gorbachev finally achieved the position he needed to implement his reform programme, under the terms glasnost ("openness") and perestroika ("restructuring"). Ironically, in trying to modernise the USSR with those reforms, he brought about its demise. Not only were Russians increasingly tired of the whole planned economic system, but leaders in other Iron Curtain countries (especia