First, my heart goes out to those scores of dedicated, community-minded Conservative councillors who lost their seats. Rightly many will feel that they deserve better than to be voted out in a tide of mid-term anti-coalition sentiment.
Second, these were almost unprecedentedly mixed results with all parties able to claim some good news amidst other disappointing results. David Cameron was right on Friday afternoon when he said that simply insulting former Tory voters for exercising their democratic choice is not a sensible strategy for countering the phenomenal rise of UKIP.
Whilst he understandably wishes to boil the whole political question down to a ‘blue team versus red team’ choice, which essentially may be the case in 2015, in these county council elections in particular this did not ring true. In southern England it is the orange and purple teams that eat into our vote and we need to say something constructive about the Conservative appeal against them too.
We will hear much in the days and weeks ahead about ‘the Conservatives doing a deal with UKIP’.
Truth is, there is no deal to be done in the run-up to the 2015 election.
Official Tory policy is to stay in the EU; UKIP is committed to leaving. The current Tory leadership is opposed to selective education but UKIP supports the principle of extending grammar schools. Likewise the constraints of coalition mean that we cannot match UKIP’s commitment to further defence spending. I could go on…
One last thing – here’s the harsh reality about any possible deal…what’s in it for a surging, oppositionalist UKIP to have any sort of alliance with the Conservative Party?