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.
One Tory MP buttonholed me this morning to ask why the FT this morning carried a story about the donations from the Square Mile to his party. (Donations from financiers and City firms now account for more than half the £22.5m the Conservatives attracted last year.)
“You should hardly be surprised by now that your readers support our party,” he observed.
Up to a point, Lord Copper. Yes, the City has always backed the Tories (with a temporary swing away during the peak of New Labour) while the unions are the cornerstone of Labour.
Plus the proportion of City money going to the Tories has actually fallen from 52 per cent in 2009 to 51 per cent last year, if you look closely at the figures in the report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
But the underlying trend is still worth reporting (it’s also the splash in the Guardian) as it shows a medium-term rise in the proportion of funding from city sources – up from just 25 per cent in 2005. Read more
The Guardian’s story that Labour is planning to vote against the AV bill as it currently stands is an important development in the passage of electoral reform. But Labour won’t be able to block the bill. What is really worrying pro-reform campaigners is the growing movement to change the date of the referendum. The FT revealed this morning that Labour is close to agreeing with Tory rebels to vote for an amendment for such a change.
Electoral reform campaigners
The “yes” movement calculates the bill will get through the Commons – rebel Tories will be whipped into submission on that point by party bosses who know that without it the coalition is likely to crumble.
But if those rebels team up with Labour to force a change of date (something on which Tory whips might give them more leeway), Lib Dems and other AV campaigners know the chances of a “yes” vote are significantly reduced. At the moment, the referendum is scheduled for May 5, when there are regional elections in Wales and Scotland. That should boost the turnout in those places, where support for AV is strongest.
So what chance the government suffering its first Commons defeat on the issue of the date? Read more