Seven completely useless local government facts extrapolated from a survey of Christmas songs

The Christmas market in front of Manchester Town Hall. Image: Getty.

It’s not been the most cheerful of years for local government. So in an attempt to raise Christmas spirits, the New Local Government Network carried out a survey of local government leadership to find out their favourite Christmas song.

Here are seven completely useless things we learned.

1) In an unsurprising turn of events, it seems that local government leadership loves a place-based Christmas song. Fairytale of New York was the runaway winner with 44 per cent of the vote.

2) We found that it was more popular with Labour run councils than Conservative (50 per cent to 40 per cent), but incredibly 100 per cent of respondents from both the North East and Northern Ireland named it as their favourite; admittedly only 2 people replied from Northern Ireland, but the influence of the Irish diaspora lives on.

However, the song was significantly less popular in the East of England (17 per cent) and Wales (25 per cent).

3) Slightly more Conservative run councils than Labour Wish it could be Christmas Everyday (7 per cent to 6 percent).

4) Labour seem to have suffered less heartbreak in the past at Christmas than the Conservatives, with 9 per cent favouriting Wham!’s Last Christmas compared to 6 per cent. 

5) There was a substantial difference between council chief executives and the elected leadership’s favourite songs. Clearly showing their background in election campaigning, 15 per cent of council mayors and leaders said that All I Want for Christmas is You was their favourite festive hit, compared to 7 per cent of chief executives.

6) There were some significant regional differences in song preferences, with those in the South East more likely to be Driving Home for Christmas. My suspicion is that this is linked to many hours wasted sitting on platforms waiting for Southern trains to turn up.

7) Finally, we learned that there was just one vote to Stay Another Day. Maybe local government can’t quite face the thought of another Brexit referendum.

The full details of the top 10 were:

1. Fairytale of New York – The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl (44 per cent)

2. Driving Home for Christmas – Chris Rea (11 per cent)

3. All I want for Christmas is you – Mariah Carey (10 per cent) 

4. Merry Xmas Everybody – Slade (9 per cent)

5. Last Christmas – Wham! (8 per cent)

6. I wish it could be Christmas everyday – Wizzard (7 per cent) 

7. Do they know it’s Christmas – Band Aid (5 per cent)

8. Rockin’ around the Christmas tree – Brenda Lee (5 per cent)

9. Merry Christmas everyone – Shakin’ Stevens (2 per cent)

10. Stay another day – East 17 (1 per cent)

This survey was genuinely carried out in December 2018 [not 2019, as this originally said; we’re efficient, but not THAT efficient], and was sent to 789 chief executives, leaders and council mayors in the United Kingdom, and there were 153 responses from all regions of the country. The survey was, ridiculously, carried out with the same methodological vigour as the rest of our research.

Claire Porter is head of external affairs at the New Local Government Network.


CityMetric is now City Monitor! Come see us at our new home

City Monitor is now live in beta at

CityMetric is now City Monitor, a name that reflects both a ramping up of our ambitions as well as our membership in a network of like-minded publications from New Statesman Media Group. Our new site is now live in beta, so please visit us there going forward. Here’s what CityMetric readers should know about this exciting transition.  

Regular CityMetric readers may have already noticed a few changes around here since the spring. CityMetric’s beloved founding editor, Jonn Elledge, has moved on to some new adventures, and a new team has formed to take the site into the future. It’s led by yours truly – I’m Sommer Mathis, the editor-in-chief of City Monitor. Hello!

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As for CityMetric, some of its archives have already been moved over to the new website, and the rest will follow not long after. If you’re looking for a favourite piece from CityMetric’s past, for a time you’ll still be able to find it here, but before long the whole archive will move over to City Monitor.

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Sommer Mathis is editor-in-chief of City Monitor.