Progressive Alliance triumphs and tragedies at the 2022 Local Elections

The 2022 election results are in, but we’re still crunching the numbers to figure out the national analysis. What we know so far is that it was a bad night for the Conservatives.

But where we are seeing successes for progressives, it’s often the result of cooperation and collaboration. Labour’s wins currently don’t look sufficient to bank on winning the next general election. Going forward, we know we need to keep building on this trend – we need to work together.

Support the call for greater cooperation between progressive parties.

Here’s a breakdown of the collaborative progressive triumphs, and the tragedies of missed opportunities. 

Richmond and Twickenham

In Richmond and Twickenham the Lib Dems gained 9 seats on the council, bringing their total to 48 councillors overall. The Green Party gained one seat to make a total of 5, making them the official opposition. These were all seats taken from the Tories, who lost 11 seats to leave them with just one seat.

Though this represents a hold for the Lib Dems, the Greens’ shift into official opposition position is significant, evidence not only of progressive co-operation but also of a united front to remove the Conservatives from power. Only as recently as 2018, the Tories ran the council, until progressives decided to work together.

Richmond and Twickenham Lib Dems and Greens have a long history of alliance-building and co-operation, reflected in these results. This alliance has proved very popular on the doorsteps, as these results demonstrate.

Wirral 

Wirral Council sees the costs of a divided progressive vote. 

Labour still holds minority control as the largest party on the Council. Digging a little deeper, there’s missed opportunities here. In every ward the Conservatives won or held in the Wirral Council election, the progressive vote was larger than the winning Conservative vote. In the Pensby and Thingwall ward, where the Conservative gained the seat from Labour the vote margin is just 32 votes. That’s 8 missed opportunities at representing the progressive majority of voters and fighting for the changes we need to see to bring about the good society. The Conservatives won 35% (8/23) of the seats up for election with 26% of the vote share.

West Oxfordshire District Council

The Conservatives lost control of the council for the first time in over 20 years. However much there is to celebrate there, again there were missed opportunities to build progressive power at the local level. 

The Conservatives won four of the 16 seats available. The Lib Dems won eight, Labour three and the Greens one. In all but one of the seats that the Conservatives won or held, the vote share for the progressive parties combined was larger than the winning right wing vote – in Ascott and Shipton the winning margin was just 4 votes.

Worcester

Another celebration for progressives, this time on Worcester City Council. The Conservatives have lost overall control of the council, losing three seats. Now, is the time that effective alliances and relationships between progressives are important as the Greens hold a balance of power. From here, we’ll either see a formal coalition or a confidence and supply agreement with either the Conservatives or Labour. It remains to be seen what exactly will happen, but it’s one to keep an eye on. We’ve set out how these agreements and coalition governance works in Minority Report, and exactly why and when we’ve learnt in the past that it’s never too early to start that work.

It’s also worth noting that, while this is a success, there were still three wards where the progressive vote outnumbered the winning Conservative vote share – Warndon Parish North, Gorse Hill, Bedwardine. 

Maidstone

In true blue Kent, the Conservatives have lost control of Maidstone Borough Council and the Greens have made headway with their first councillor elected. 

Rossendale

Another win for Labour in Rossendale – gained 2 as per usual there were no Lib Dem candidates standing. While this doesn’t necessarily indicate cooperation, it does indicate the efficacy of not splitting the vote in two crucial wards that Labour gained. 

We Divide, They Conquer. 

Woking

In Woking Borough Council, the Liberal Democrats have gained 4 seats, Labour retained their seat and there was 1 independent gain. With a total of 16, the Lib Dems are set to take control of the council for the first time since 1996.  This is the result of progressives working increasingly together, particularly in recent years. Another brick coming out of blue wall in Surrey on the back of the recent upsets in Dominic Raab’s, Michael Gove’s, Jeremy Hunt’s, and Kwasi Kwarteng’s constituencies.

North Yorkshire

The Conservatives won the new unitary authority of North Yorkshire Council elections, gaining 47 seats out of the 46 seats needed for overall control.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats both won 12 seats, and the Greens gained five councillors. The remaining 13 seats will be held by independent candidates.

Although there was some apparent cooperation locally in Aire Valley and Amotherby & Ampleforth wards that helped wins by Greens and Lib Dems. However, a lack of cooperation by progressive parties created seats in wards Kirkbymoorside & Dales, Oatlands & Pannal and Washburn & Birstwith where the combined vote for progressive candidates was larger than the winning Conservative vote share.

Milton Keynes

In Milton Keynes, the existing alliance between  the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats stood and maintained control of the council while both parties gained a seat and the Tories lost one. Labours’ gain against the Tories was in Bletchley Park, beating the Tories by 72 votes. Liberal Democrats removed the Tories in Campbell Park & Old Wroughton by 308 votes.

Overall, the results are on the right side. However, more could have been achieved if parties cooperated. In the only seat gained by the Conservative, Tattenhoe, the progressive parties split the vote and missed the opportunity to deny the victory to the Conservatives.

Cheltenham

In the only corner of Gloucestershire that had local elections this year, there were some promising signs for progressives. For the first time, Cheltenham Borough Council has a Green councillor, and for the first time in living memory, the Conservatives in one ward lost a councillor. 

While attempts were made to collaborate across the parties, it was very limited. That being said, only 6 out of the 21 ward seats were contested by all three progressive parties: Greens, Labour, and Lib Dem. Where the Green councillor won by 149 votes, there was not a Labour candidate. However, the one ward that the Conservatives kept was a familiar story – a candidate representing a right-wing party winning the seat while the majority of votes went to centre-left and left parties. 

Progressive tragedies is what we call it when this kind of lack of cooperation that facilitates Tory rule. It is a big issue in Gloucestershire; 2 out of 6 constituencies in the county were tragedies at the last general election, and many of the local elections are beset by these kinds of losses. So as in so many places in this local election, we have had successes but with an underlying cautionary tale.


Want to see more triumphs and fewer tragedies come the next general election? Tell our party leaders that you back a Progressive Alliance.

2 thoughts on “Progressive Alliance triumphs and tragedies at the 2022 Local Elections

  1. On Richmond Green in 2016, Tim Farron repeated his conference claim that “The LibDems are the only free-market, free trade, pro-business party.”
    36 LibDems and 4 Greens won control of Richmond upon Thames Council in 2018. They did not change Tory polices on Electric Vehicle adoption (not a penny of Council Tax will be spent), direction of social housebuilding or lowest price procurement. Results; worst progress v EV target registration in W&SW London (next worst two other LibDem Councils), zero homes for social rent built, claim contractors pay London Living Wage but street cleaner job ads £10.20 for 46hr week. They are both in coalition with Tories in City Hall against Sadiq. Vote LibDem get a Tory. Greens don’t want economic growth. Labour is the only Progressive Party. Start big thinking of the radical policies on wages that will win a 100 seat majority

  2. Has anyone looked at whether an alliance could put together a Parliamentary Programme for a whole 5-year Parliament in areas where the three parties could all agree? Would it make a difference if that could be devised and put even to the trades unions? I suspect one major obstacle is Labour’s rule that a member can be expelled for helping or voting for any other Party, except of course the Co-operative Party that are very active within Labour. Demonstrating the extent of our common ground might be very useful in getting that rule changed.

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