Welcome to our live blog on the local elections
Through the day, we’ll be providing results from the local elections held yesterday in England, Scotland and Wales, with additional comment from the FT’s political reporting and commentary team as well as pulling in analysis and illumination from wherever we find it on the web.
The results are still coming in, but with the national pattern now becoming clear we’re going to put this blog on pause, at least until we get some sense of what is going to happen in the contest for London mayor. Here are the 11am headlines:
- Labour has done very well across England, winning an estimated 39 per cent share of the vote, compared to 31 for the Tories and 16 for the Lib Dems.
- So far, Labour has won 22 new councils and 470 new councillors. The councils are spread across England, including Carlisle, Birmingham and Southampton.
- Nick Clegg and William Hague have both re-pledged their commitment to the coalition, amid sniping from the Tory benches that the party needs to move to the right.
- Four cities – Manchester, Nottingham, Bradford and Coventry have all voted no to a directly elected mayor. Birmingham is predicted to go the same way.
- Boris Johnson is pulling ahead in early counting for London mayor. Brian Paddick, the Lib Dem, is being pushed for third place by Jenny Jones, the green, and Siobhan Benita, the independent.
10.53: Kiran here. Ed Miliband has just been addressing supporters in Birmingham, where Labour has taken power of the council from the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, which has ruled since 2004. Unsurprisingly, Miliband said the vote reflects falling support for the government, but insisted “Labour are taking nothing for granted.”
That attitude can be seen by Miliband’s itinerary today, which will include not only places where Labour has done well, but places they have failed to win too, such as Worcester. Worcester of course is home to the “Worcester woman”, the personification of the type of middle England voter with whom Tony Blair was so popular, and with whom Miliband has not managed to achieve the same level of support.
10.42: Kiran Stacey has filed a story on the rejection of elected mayors, of which this is an extract:
No city has yet voted in favour of having an elected mayor, and there are signs that Birmingham, which has attracted high profile potential candidates even before the referendum, will also vote against.
Jack Dromey, the Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington, said: “The straws in the wind are that it is likely to be a No vote, but we will see.”
David Cameron had put his weight behind the campaign for elected mayors, promising he would host biannual cabinet meetings with those elected, so the results are a personal blow for the prime minister.
Jon Collins, the Labour leader of Nottingham council, where voters rejected a mayor by 57 to 43 per cent, on a turnout of just 24 per cent, said: “This was a referendum imposed on us by the coalition government.”
He added: “I am pleased with this outcome because an elected mayor would have been expensive and unnecessary.”
10.35: Our man at the cliff-face of political neologism, Kiran Stacey, reports:
The Lib Dems’ night of woe, or ArmaCleggon, as John Prescott is calling it, was deepened in Liverpool, where Richard Kemp, the Lib Dem candidate for mayor, was forced into third by Liam Fogarty, an independent.
It seems to me that this live blog can only be improved by a cheery photograph of the legerdemain lord of linguistics, the prestidigitator of prose himself, so here we go:
10.22: Mark Gettelson, the pollster for Politics Home says there is a possibility that Kit Malthouse, Boris Johnson’s deputy, may lose his seat at the Greater London Assemble to Labour. That would take a bit of the patina off a re-election triumph. But his additional point about the race for third place goes beyond most people’s need-to-know levels, I suspect.
In answer to political writer @gabyhinsliff, Tom Watson, deputy chairman of the Labour party, explains why he thinks cities have rejected elected mayors:
10.09: Of course, it is open to question whether David Cameron will welcome the image of Boris Johnson, who most regard as the man most likely to mount the next leadership challenge to him, as a saviour of his party’s fortunes. Any port in a storm or a cure that is worse than the disease? Choose your own cliché.
Andrew Bolger, until recently the FT’s Scotland correspondent, points out: “By the end of the day, with Boris probably winning in London and the SNP doing damage to Labour in Scotland, this won’t look nearly as good for Ed Miliband as it does right now.”
Maybe the Labour leader would like to screengrab Election 2012 at 10am.
FT.com has a revamped take on the days events:
By Helen Warrell, Jim Pickard and Andy Bounds
Labour has made sweeping gains in local elections across England and Wales, winning an 8 percentage point lead over the Conservatives and taking control of cities such as Cardiff, Birmingham and Derby.
Speaking outside his London home, Ed Miliband, Labour leader, said: “We are a party winning back people’s trust, regaining ground, but there is more work to do.’’
According to BBC projections, Labour has a 39 per cent vote share ahead of the Tories’ 31 per cent and the Liberal Democrats’ 16 per cent. Early on Friday morning Labour had won 21 councils, the Tories had lost 11 and the Lib Dems were down one.
In what was a bruising night for the coalition parties, the Tories lost Great Yarmouth, Dudley, Plymouth and Harlow to Labour.
09.55: Daily Mail political writer Tim Shipman “helps” Lib Dem front bencher voice her position.
o9.47: We could at this point bring you details of Lembit Opik, the former Lib Dem frontbencher and one-time publicity magnet, calling on Nick Clegg to resign, but somehow it doesn’t seem to be the cutting edge piece of news it might once have been.
09.42: Update from my Westminster colleague Kiran Stacey, a man with his finger on the carotid artery of the London mayoral election.
Counting has just got underway in London, and if you’re interested, you can follow live progress of the count here: . Early indications suggest Boris is surging into the lead (Labour sources said last night they were “definitely the underdogs”), but it’s worth noting that counting has progressed most in boroughs the Tory incumbent is expected to win, such as Croydon & Sutton and Merton & Wandsworth. More unexpected is the fact that Jenny Jones, the Green candidate, and Siobhan Benita, the independent, are both pushing Lib Dem Brian Paddick very hard for third place. This will turn out to be a very bad day for the Lib Dems if that pattern continues.
09.33: Here’s that Cameron bunker picture, which the Conservatives posted on their Twitter page earlier.
09.25: Online newspaper headlines this morning. The Mail describes the election as a “bloody nose”for the Tories and has a picture from inside a Tory election bunker of a very dressed-down prime minister. The Telegraph says the coalition is being punished, but Boris Johnson is the ray of hope. The Sun’s homepage downplays politics, concentrating on the Argentine “insult” of broadcasting a video of an athlete training in Port Stanley. The only mention of the elections focuses on Boris again.
A very good night for Labour, winning beyond the predicted areas of Birmingham and Cardiff. Conservative and Liberal Democrats say they are mid-term results and point out Labour has fallen short of a 40 per cent vote. Silver lining for the coalition is that turnout is only around 30 per cent nationally and Labour is warning that it will not do as well in London as it has already elsewhere. Boris Johnson is poised to give them a good end to a tough day.
And a psephological detail from BBC pundit Andrew Neil:
08:52: Another sign of things to come? Labour sources in London are briefing political correspondents that their vote in the capital has been depressed by an “anti-Ken” feeling. That, of course, is a reference to the veteran Labour candidate for the mayoral election, Ken Livingstone. Polls indicated that he had not managed to harness mid-term rejection of national Conservative politics to unseat Boris Johnson. In fact, based on what we are just hearing, Labour are already spinning a disappointing result across the capital.
08.46: A sign of things to come? Alex Deane, a former aide to David Cameron, tells Sky News the obvious message from the election results is that the Conservatives must move to the right and dissociate themselves from the Liberal Democrats. Asked how, he suggests including a promise of an “in/out referendum” in the next Tory election manifesto.
Duncan Enright, the first Labour councillor ever to win Witney East ward in David Cameron’s own constituency: “It felt more like the first half of the 1990s when we were preparing to get back into government than like the last few years. It was great.” – Sky News interview.
0832: Taking a survey of various projections on television and the net, a consensus on voting share seems to be this: Labour took 39 per cent of the vote; Conservatives 31 per cent; Lib Dems 16 per cent. Obviously those numbers don’t reflect the Scottish Nationalist vote, with those results coming in later in the day.
08.25: We seem to be moving into a post mortem stage already, with Conservative and Lib Dem big guns doing the TV rounds to put the success of Labour into perspective. But commentators like Tim Montgomerie of Conservative Home are putting pressure on the prime minister to recognise that normally loyal centrist MPs have been expressing doubts about the direction of the party and how it is being dragged to the left by the needs of coalition politics.
Nick Clegg: “It’s been a disappointing and difficult night.” He adds that while “Labour has had good night, the question for Labour is how they move beyond winning votes from 2 coalition partners in mid-term elections to provide answers and solutions for the challenges facing our country.”
“The real challenge for the Conservatives won’t come now, with the Queen’s Speech round the corner, but later, in the autumn, at their own party conference when they have to speak to their own party activists.”
Nick Robinson, BBC political editor
08.10: A bit of number crunching by Sky’s political boffins. Extrapolating from the results so far to a general election (something no sensible human being would rely on) shows a Labour majority of 86 in the next election, with the Lib Dems down to 34 seats, Tories on 223 and Labour taking 368. But the big health warning here is that turnout looks to be about a half of what it was for the 2010 poll.
08.05: William Hague has blamed the results on “normal mid-term factors” in a Sky News interview. On the BBC, political editor Nick Robinson says there is no getting away from the reality that Labour has had sweeping successes and the coalition will have to take note.
Labour’s big wins have come in places like Cardiff, Birmingham, Harlow, Southampton and Plymouth. But there were also wins in places like Great Yarmouth and Dudley in the West Midlands, with Labour taking control in places they weren’t predicted to do so.
There is little for the Liberal Democrats to cling to.
07.45: The FT’s political team is busily updating the main story on the elections at ft.com.
Jim Pickard, Helen Warrell and Andy Bounds write: Labour has made sweeping gains in elections across England and Wales, winning an 8 point lead over the Conservatives having already taken control of big cities such as Birmingham, Southampton and Derby.
According to BBC projections, Labour has a 39 per cent vote share ahead of the Tories’ 31 per cent and Lib Dems’ 16 per cent. Early on Friday Morning Labour had won a total of 21 councils, the Tories had lost 11 and the Lib Dems were down one.
As well making urban gains, the opposition also took smaller centres like Exeter and Plymouth outside its traditional heartland.
While Emily Thornberry, Labour’s shadow attorney-general, said the wins showed that Labour was “on its way” back to power in the 2015 election, fears remained among senior Labour figures that the night would be tarnished by Ken Livingstone’s expected failure to unseat Boris Johnson as mayor of London.
07.38: Results in already show losses for the Conservatives in Wales, with Monmouthshire and Vale of Glamorgan both drifting from Tory to No Overall Control. Sky News is predicting that the Conservatives will lose more than 350 seats overall, worse than the 2011 local polls. Labour looks to be heading for gains of 700 seats, better than most independent analysts were expecting, although from a very low base, having been trounced in 2008.
07.30 Kicking off:
The main themes emerging from the polls are that Labour has had a good night, the Conservatives a bad one and it’s looking ugly for the Liberal Democrats. Some commentators are saying the big loser is democracy though, with this mid-term survey of popular opinion being a landslide win for apathy. Turnout could well be under one-third.
David Cameron’s call for a “Boris in every city” looks likely to be rejected, with Manchester rejecting a referendum proposal for elected mayors by 53.24 per cent to 46.76 per cent. Nottingham said No by 57.5 per cent to 42.5 per cent. Early signs are that Birmingham, which was predicted to be the most likely to go for elected mayors, has also rejected it.
Mr Cameron’s hopes for good news, mayor-wise, rest on the aforementioned Boris keeping his position in London. We are not expecting that result until this evening.
In terms of council seat numbers, with 98 out of 181 councils across England, Scotland and Wales reported, here is the picture, courtesy of the BBC’s website: