Like I said in a previous post, I haven’t paid much attention to local elections apart from voting in them. But having had a look at how Glasgow is placed in the forthcoming local elections, I thought I’d have a look at how councils around Scotland stand at the moment. Happily for someone who likes spreadsheets, you can download the whole caboodle of the 2012 election results direct to your computer. Then you can footer around pulling data together to your heart’s delight. Or not delight depending on your political preferences.
I’m really surprised at the variety of local coalitions that have formed to create a working majority in a council. Even the LibDems and the Greens get a look in. It’s a right patchwork of red, gold, yellow, blue, and whatever colour Independents associate themselves with. I’ve used grey on the graphs below. Sorry, Independents.
Labour lead in 15 councils, followed by SNP in 10, Independents in 5 and the Tories in 2. But when you look at who actually runs the councils the pattern changes. Councils with Labour as the party which received most votes are not necessarily run by Labour if the other parties can agree a controlling alliance. And here it seems to be the Independents and the Tories who gain most from forging cross-party alliances. The Independents are the biggest party in five councils and in three of those they have an overall majority. But they are in controlling alliances in more than a dozen. Similarly the Tories are the biggest party in two councils but leap to having cross-party alliance power in more than a dozen. Labour and SNP also benefit from making alliances but not so much. Presumably that’s linked to their stronger showing overall.
And when you look deeper into the cross-party alliances, it’s clear that locally at least people are pretty pragmatic in setting up coalitions. You get Labour and SNP! SNP and Tory! Labour and Tory! and every other assortment you can think of some in three-way alliances.
I’m pretty impressed by it. The electorate speak and the councillors get on with the job even if they do end up with some surprising bed-fellows. But I doubt if all those assorted bed-fellows will survive next month’s election. Labour, Conservative and LibDems are all playing the ‘vote for us to tell SNP you don’t want another referendum’ line. It is very hard to imagine any of them agreeing alliances with the SNP afterwards. But maybe they will.
In Realpolitik, politics is the art of the possible. What do you think Ma Brown?
“Aye, ah’m keeping’ an eye on it all…Would ye like a wee sweetie?”