EDITORIAL: Some hard truths about the local elections that “Moaners” need to contemplate

Following the local elections last week, a certain vocal crowd in Sunderland were indignant at the news that the Labour Party were not only re-elected in most of the seats they contested, but also increased their majority in Sunderland Council having won back seats from UKIP and the critical swing seat of the Barnes. According to these people, the result was disastrous for Sunderland, leading to some to incessantly denounce the electorate as “sheep” who were “ruining the city.”

But is that really the case? It seems no matter what happens in our city for these people, the outlook is almost universally negative, and the Labour Party is of course concurrently the supposed source of every single thing that has ever gone wrong in Sunderland, leading to an obsessive social media tug of war which often pans out on Facebook groups such as “Sunderland Have Your Say”. But what if, most people in Sunderland happened to feel Labour might actually be doing well? And that things aren’t as gloomy as made out? Lest of course the reality, there isn’t a serious alternative to the party.

Home truth one: Things are looking better in Sunderland

Whether you like it or not, the current generation of council leadership have presided over more development in Sunderland since it gained city status in 1992. While critics are inevitably writing this off, there are a lot of substantive results to talk about. This includes: A widespread span of development in the former Vaux Site which have included multiple new office buildings, the construction of the Keel Square Hotel, the new Vaux footbridge set to be built, the new culture house, new developments at the Sheepfolds, the construction of Minster Park, the new eye infirmary, the new railway station and two new proposals for game changing film studios that will bring thousands of jobs to our city. No matter who you vote for, only someone wearing grey tinted glasses could possibly take a look at this and argue nothing is happening in Sunderland. Never have things seemed more optimistic for the city.

Home truth two: There’s been no viable alternative to Labour

If not Labour, then who? It’s a serious question to ask, and rather than insulting the intelligence of voters, it might be worth introspecting which options they had to vote for during the local elections, rather than just spontaneously demanding the ousting of the ruling party. For most people in Sunderland, the Conservatives are not an option. While there are historical reasons which come into play for this, more important is the fact that many people are rightfully aggrieved over the performance of the central government. The British economy is in dire straits, incomes are shrinking, inflation is surging, and not only that but the Tories have arguably proven themselves unfit to govern in the eyes of many following a series of scandals and incompetence which seen the demise of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

But even discarding that, it seems most people in Sunderland are not even motivated to vote for anyone, let alone an alternative. Much has been discussed about the turnout of the election, which was poor at only around 30%, and while that is of course not a ringing endorsement of Labour either, it shows most people have no faith in any alternatives to oust them, showing that only one party has a true “core support” to win each time. The other parties at play, such as the Greens and the Liberal Democrats or Reform UK, are yet to demonstrate any capacity to challenge the political status quo, and even if they could the same people who incessantly complain about local affairs probably aren’t voting for them either.

In conclusion, there’s no reason to believe the Sunderland Council election could have gone any different to how it did. Not only are things improving on Wearside, but some are demanding people vote for a hypothetical alternative that has never demonstrated it exists. Either way, the streets of the town could be lined with gold and the same people would probably complain it was too bright, or a waste of taxpayers money. It makes you wonder though, there certainly might be a better way to improve Sunderland, or to inspire the ways of its people, as opposed to endlessly complaining about everything, right?