Following yesterday’s local elections, the headline news emerging is that voters are sticking with the status quo. 4,371 seats have been contested in some 150 council areas, including all 32 London boroughs, and are the first England-wide test of electoral opinion since last year’s General Election where Theresa May lost her majority.
Both the Conservatives and Labour have lost key Council seats and any sort of grand shift in London hasn’t emerged. However, despite Theresa May’s leadership undergoing yet another turbulent period dominated by Brexit and the recent Windrush scandal, May has managed to come through election night undamaged. Local issues surpassed national with voters in, for example, Barnet focusing on potholes with accusations of antisemitism within Labour playing a secondary contributing factor to the Tory win.
Labour on the other hand did not succeed in building on their surge from the General Election and failed to manage expectations around their ability to win battleground seats. This, conjoined with the antisemitism row within the Party, resulted in them not managing to put a dent in the Tories with prize seats of Wandsworth, Westminster and Kensington remaining blue. Have we now passed ‘peak Corbyn’? Well the big debate surely to take place inside Labour is if they can really make the leap to become a credible ‘Government in waiting’ without adopting a much more apparent anti-hard-Brexit stance.
Elsewhere, the Liberal Democrats have seen a small resurgence taking control of Richmond (a Remain supporting area) from the Conservatives – making them the biggest winners of the night. Where voters moved to the Conservatives, it has largely been in areas that voted to leave the EU, increasing the pressure on the Tories to get Brexit right.
The votes are still being counted but the current picture looks like some gains in London for Labour, but not any sort of the tidal wave.
Across the rest of the country the results were more mixed for both Labour and the Conservatives. Vote leave areas such as Basildon and Swindon turned back to the Conservatives, while areas which largely voted remain and had a high concentration of remain voters chose Labour.
The Conservatives lost Trafford after 15 years in control meaning Labour have consolidated their grip on Greater Manchester. This will be felt most by the charismatic, young and now former Tory Leader of the Council, Sean Anstee.
UKIP, whose vote has collapsed since the EU referendum, lost 86 seats in early results, holding only two. This loss was most evident in Basildon where the Conservatives benefited from their fall from grace. The Party is the biggest loser of the night, becoming almost irrelevant.
Key results so far (after 100 of 150 councils):
- 52 Labour Councils
- 30 Conservative Councils
- Four Liberal Democrat Councils
- 14 No Overall Control
- Wandsworth – Conservative HOLD
- Westminster – Conservative HOLD
- Barnet – Conservative WIN from No Overall Control
- Richmond Upon Thames – Liberal Democrat WIN
- Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea – Conservative HOLD
- Labour’s biggest success of the night was in Plymouth which it seized from the Conservatives
- Labour became the largest party in Trafford resulting in No Overall Control
- Conservatives have made a net gain of 27 seats across the West Midlands region, with Labour losing control of Nuneaton and Bedworth Council