local elections

Nick Clegg at the Harvey's breweryOf all the campaigns in this local election, the Lib Dem one has probably been the lowest-key. As Westminster has focused on the steady rise of Ukip, and what that means for both the Tory and Labour vote, the Lib Dems have plugged away beneath the radar.

That suits Nick Clegg. His party is predicted to lose over 100 seats from today’s vote, and the less attention the media pays to Lib Dem failures, the better, from his point of view.

That was summed up by Clegg’s final day of campaigning, which was spent on a whistle-stop trip to the Harvey’s brewery in Lewes, where he met a maximum of 15 members of staff during a tour of the brewery, before conducting a few interviews and dashing back to London on government business. Read more

Not in England, you understand.

But if you take a close look at Friday’s results from elections in Wales and Scotland you can see that the Conservative party profited to a great extent from PR-type systems.

In Holyrood, The Tories picked up just 3 constituency seats – but 12 of the regional ones.

In Cardiff Bay, the Tories got 6 constituencies and no fewer than 8 regional seats. Read more

There is a deluge of election material out there today; I would recommend www.ft.com for those looking for superior coverage.

Here is my succint summary:

SNP 10/10. Alex Salmond pulls off Holyrood majority, prompting imminent referendum on Scottish devolution and the resignation – by the autumn – of Iain Gray, Scotland’s Labour leader.

Conservatives 9/10. Any government – let alone one conducting large public spending cuts – is supposed to lose ground in mid-term polls. As of now the Tories have made 77 net gains and have won control of four councils. And are only around two points behind Labour overall. Bizarre. Bear in mind that they were already starting from a high base of councillors. Plus they won the AV argument, we presume. Read more

One rumour of recent days is that the Lib Dems are so demoralised about their impending AV defeat that none will bother to attend the official count down in Docklands. The theory adds to the relentlessly negative narrative about Clegg’s party.

In fact it’s not quite true. I’m told that Chris Huhne, Lord Ashdown, Danny Alexander, Charles Kennedy and Simon Hughes will all in fact be at Friday’s count, if not for the entire afternoon/evening. Read more