23 May 2014

Elections: London, west Berlin and beyond Barking

We were used to the north-south fracture line in English election results. Yesterday’s local elections confirmed it’s even more fractured than that.

The capital of global capitalism, London, went left while the south beyond London looks nervous about Ed Miliband.

Labour looks like it’ll end up controlling more London boroughs than at any time since the 1970s. The political map makes London look like west Berlin sitting in the old East Germany.

But trundle down the train line east, beyond Barking (if you follow my meaning), and you come to Ukip-land.


I’ve come to Thurrock, where a Labour target marginal has turned into a lost council. Nigel Farage is parading down the street clustered by us media, pressing the flesh and glowing with pride at his party’s performance.

He’s studied just about every book written about the SDP to work out how they failed to convert popular strength into parliamentary seats. He’s determined not to repeat that and here in Essex and over the Thames estuary in north Kent you find some of his greatest hopes for Westminster success.

Every other passing car toots it horn in support.  He thinks he could manage 12 MPs or so with the right focus in campaigning.

Back in the old days before he seized on “cost of living” as the answer to all his problems, Ed Miliband unrelentingly used the slogan “one nation“. Some very senior figures wish he’d never abandoned it. Last night, England looked less of one nation than ever.

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