5 things we learnt from today’s Sheffield local election results

The votes have been counted and the results are in – Labour lost a net of four seats and the Liberal Democrats and Greens each made significant gains in Sheffield’s local election this year.

Here are five significant things we learnt from the results today:

1. Labour are in trouble

barnsley elections

In Sheffield, Labour taking a seat from UKIP in Stocksbridge and Upper Don was the sole good news in an otherwise rough day for the party.

When asked about their losses, Council Leader Julie Dore said: “When you look nationally, there is a clear pattern around a protest against the two main parties.

“What we have to do locally is listen to what people have been saying to us on the doorstep. We have to listen to them and analyse it.”

2. A great night for the Liberal Democrats

Both nationally and in Sheffield, this was a great set of results for the Liberal Democrats. Across the country they gained over 450 councillors and in Sheffield these gains were replicated.

They won in a couple of surprising seats including Beighton, a Labour stronghold. Lib Dem’s Bob McCann defeated Ian Saunders, a Labour councillor who was first elected into the ward in 1985.

The Liberal Democrat leader in Sheffield, Shaffaq Muhammed, was in a ebullient mood. He said: “It’s very clear that the Labour council here is hugely unpopular everywhere. Anywhere people have campaigned against them they have lost.

“This top-down approach town hall knows the best attitude trying to lock up councillors for trying to protect trees is not the way to go forward.”

He believed the result is a combination of a national protest against “Labour’s Brexit fudge” and a local protest against the council’s approach to local issues, especially the controversy around Amey’s Streets Ahead contract.

3. Good night for the Green Party but perhaps a storm ahead?

The Greens picked up two seats from the Labour Party. The newly elected Paul Turpin, who defeated Labour candidate Nadia Jama, said that recent attention on environmental issues and the prominence of environmental activists like Extinction Rebellion has meant that “all the parties are trying to be the Green Party.”

While these results are a boost for the Green Party, controversy is perhaps looming around newly elected Green councillor Peter Garbutt for the Nether Edge and Sharrow ward. He has been accused of transphobic comments and after the count he appeared to double down on those views saying: “It is scientifically impossible for a man to become a woman or a woman to become a man… You can’t change DNA.” This may lead to further issues with Sheffield LGTBQ community.

4. As it turns out, personal votes may be overrated

Labour MP Angela Smith who has announced her resignation during a press conference at County Hall in Westminster, London, along with a group of six other Labour MPs, including, Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Gavin Shuker, Chris Leslie and Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey (not present) and who will be known as the Independent Group.

Steve Wilson, who quit the Labour Party in March to run as an independent candidate, received a dismal 102 votes. This suggests that a councillor’s personal appeal may be overrated in a party system. Ultimately the East Ecclesfield ward was won by the Liberal Democrats.

Steve Wilson is the husband of Change UK MP Angela Smith and is running for the newly formed party in the European elections later this month. Today’s results suggest they may be in for a disappointing night.

5. East Ecclesfield rejects the extreme right

There was some controversy at the news that the deputy leader of the National Front Jordon Pont was running for council in the East Ecclesfield ward. Fears about support growing for the extreme right appears to have been unfounded, as Mr Pont only got 36 votes.

Nick Spooner, an organiser for Sheffield Hope not Hate, said: “This is a pitiful result. It emphasises what we all know to be true: that the National Front is an irrelevant and spent force.

The voters of East Ecclesfield have delivered a resounding rejection of the sort of fascism and hardline neo-nazi views the NF espouses. A paltry 36 votes represents a humiliation, even by the extremely low standards Pont set for himself in this local election.”