David Cameron left the symphony hall in Birmingham’s ICC after Boris Johnson’s speech today beaming – and well he might. The prime minister’s most serious rival for the leadership of the Tory party had just delivered an admirably loyal speech – and while it was entertaining and funny, it did not raise the roof in the way Number 10 must have feared.
The London mayor began his speech in the best way possible if his aim was to damp down speculation about him challenging for the top job, with lavish and lengthy praise for the PM:
If we can win in the middle of a recession and wipe out a 17 point Labour poll lead then I know that David Cameron will win in 2015. [Addressing the PM directly] When the economy has turned around and people are benefiting in jobs and growth from the firm leadership you have shown and the tough decisions you have taken.
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.
The week did not start well for Boris Johnson, filmed wandering around Clapham beset by angry heckling middle class voters. Was it the moment that BoJo lost his shine, as Kiran suggested a few days ago?
Friends of the London mayor admit that he was caught on the hop, holidaying with his family on the west coast of the USA, some 300 miles from the nearest airport. On returning to Britain, his Clapham walkabout was not his greatest moment. Read more
What is Boris up to? When asked about David Cameron’s future this afternoon, he replied:
I’m not here to discuss government appointments. Those questions you must address to government. I don’t think there’s a very clear read across [from Sir Paul Stephenson hiring Neil Wallis to Mr Cameron hiring Andy Coulson]. This is a matter you must address to Number 10 Downing Street. Read more
There has been some puzzlement in Whitehall after Boris Johnson vowed to have it out with Eric Pickles over the latter’s plans – as yet undisclosed and undefined - to cut the £7bn London budget.
I had to leave tonight’s Policy Exchange function at the Institute of Directors just as the mayor of London was getting into his stride: But as ever he picked a choice metaphor, according to Tim Montgomerie: Read more
I wasn’t at the UK Press Awards last night but apparently Boris Johnson pulled off a brilliant speech that included some comments undermining Cameron’s “Broken Britain” theme.
The mayor said of Stephen Byers, who notoriously compared himself as a cab for hire: “He must have found a devilish route to Heathrow.”