Local and mayoral results: Conservatives make gains

Local and mayoral results: Conservatives make gains

Media captionLabour has had disappointing results in the local and mayoral elections.

The Conservatives have gained ground in local elections across Britain at the expense of Labour and UKIP.

They have taken control of seven councils in England and Wales, such as Lincolnshire and Monmouthshire, and are also making headway in Scotland.

Labour, which has lost control of Glasgow as well as Bridgend and Blaenau Gwent, said it was “disappointing” five weeks before the general election.

UKIP has lost more than 80 seats amid claims its influence was “at an end”.

Amid contrasting fortunes for the parties in local polls, the Conservatives have attempted to downplay their significance as a guide to the outcome of the general election on 8 June.

When are the results declared?

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A total of 4,851 seats are up for grabs in 88 councils – all 32 in Scotland, 22 in Wales and 34 county councils and unitary authorities in England.

So far, 40 councils in England, Wales and Scotland have announced their final results.

The remainder – including the likes of Lancashire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire- will declare later on Friday.

Counting in Scotland is also under way. The Conservatives have made gains in Edinburgh, Fife and Midlothian and also in parts of Glasgow, such as Shettleston and Paisley, where they have been unrepresented for years.

Labour has ceded control of Glasgow Council, which has been a municipal stronghold for decades, although it is not clear yet whether the SNP will win enough votes to command a majority.

How have things gone so far?

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Conservative councillors in Warwickshire celebrate their victory

At 13:00 BST, the Conservatives had control of 13 authorities and 1,059 seats, a net gain of 294 seats and seven councils.

Labour, meanwhile, had control of six authorities and 623 seats, a net loss of 212 seats and four councils.

The Lib Dems had 239 seats, a net loss of 36. UKIP has won just one seat, a net loss of 81, while the Greens had picked up 18, a net gain of four.

Plaid Cymru, meanwhile, have won 136 seats – a net gain so far of 29.

A good time for the Conservatives

The Conservatives have taken charge of Warwickshire, Lincolnshire, Gloucestershire, the Isle of Wight, Norfolk and Monmouthshire, all of which were previously under no overall control.

So far, the party has only lost two seats as it also held onto Dorset, Essex and Somerset among others.

The Conservative candidate for the new “metro mayor” post for the West of England, Tim Bowles, beat Labour’s Lesley Mansell by 51.6% to 48.4%.

John Curtice, Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, said the Conservatives had so far put in their best election performance since at least 2008, with an average swing of seven points from Labour to the Tories since 2013.

He said the Conservatives appeared to have been the main beneficiaries of a sharp decline in support for UKIP.

Conservative defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the outcome was “very encouraging”, but denied the general election was in the bag, saying the results were not an “accurate prediction” of next month’s poll.

Disappointment for Labour

Media captionLabour’s John McDonnell tells Today media is distorting Jeremy Corbyn’s image

Labour-controlled councils in England, such as Derbyshire and Durham, have yet to declare – but they will be closely watched as there are already signs of the party losing ground in areas which voted to leave the EU.

It lost ground in Lincolnshire, Cumbria and Warwickshire. Phil Johnson, the party’s general election candidate in Nuneaton, lost his seat on Warwickshire council to the Conservatives.

The performance was labelled “pretty disastrous” by ex-MP Stephen Kinnock, who is standing again in Aberavon.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said this was not the “wipe-out that many commentators were forecasting” and Labour were building a “solid base” for the general election.

But the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg said the opposition should be “gobbling up” seats rather than trying to “put a rosy picture” on holding onto seats in some of their traditional heartlands.

Analysis: Where the parties stand so far

By Laura Kuenssberg, BBC’s political editor

It’s early, early days. But so far there will be grimaces at Labour HQ, beaming smiles at Tory CCHQ, a slightly frazzled atmosphere at the Lib Dem’s home this morning and well, don’t be surprised if you see Nigel Farage at his favourite boozer by lunchtime.

There are lots and lots of results still to come in. But with a general election only a month away, this barometer of real votes looks grim for the Labour Party.

What’s happened in Wales?

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Brendan Toomey, Labour leader on Merthyr council, was among those to lose his seat

It was a mixed picture for Labour in Wales, where it has been the dominant force in local government for decades.

It lost control of its heartland seat Blaenau Gwent to independents. It also lost Bridgend while the result in Merthyr Tydfil is on a knife-edge as the final three seats will not be declared until 8 June and Labour would have to win them all to retain a majority.

Merthyr Tydfil’s Labour leader Brendan Toomey, among those to lose his seat, said the party was “having a very disappointing evening to say the least”.

Vaughan Gething, a member of the Labour government in Wales, said there was an “awful lot of work” for the party to do before the general election.

He told Radio 4’s Today there had been “mixed messages” on the doorsteps about Jeremy Corbyn but there had also been strong results – with his party “turning back the Tory tide” in Cardiff, Newport and Swansea.

UKIP’s ‘challenging night’

Media captionUKIP’s Peter Reeve maintains on Today his party is still leading the national agenda

It has been a bleak night so far for UKIP, which has lost all of its 64 seats that have been declared.

In Lincolnshire, where UKIP had 16 councillors elected in 2013 and was the official opposition on the council, the party has lost all of its remaining 13 seats.

It also lost all its seats in Warwickshire, Hampshire, Essex and the Isle of Wight, which were taken by the Conservatives.

Former UKIP leadership contender Steven Woolfe said the party’s influence was “at an end” while its former MP Douglas Carswell said “it was over”. But party leader Paul Nuttall said UKIP, which did well in 2013 council elections and won 3.8 million votes in the 2015 general election, was a “victim of its own success”.

What about the others?

Lib Dem president Sal Brinton described her party’s performance overall as “patchy”, while former business secretary Vince Cable said there had been no “spectacular breakthrough”.

The Conservatives saw off the Lib Dems’ challenge to hold on to Somerset County Council. The Lib Dems lost six seats although former MP Tessa Munt ousted the Conservative leader John Osman.

In Cumbria, where party leader Tim Farron is hoping to be re-elected as MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, the party failed to increase its representation.

Ex-MP Stephen Williams only came third in the race to be the new metro mayor for the west of England.

The Green Party have gained six seats in England while Plaid Cymru have added eight in Wales. It has also been a good night for those unaffiliated to any political party, with 28 more independents than before.

Still to come… the metro mayors

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Andy Burnham is bidding to be the first Manchester Metro mayor

Along with the West of England, voters in Greater Manchester, the Liverpool City region, the West Midlands, Tees Valley, and Cambridge and Peterborough will also all elect “metro mayors” covering combined local authority areas.

The mayors will mostly be responsible for economic development, but some will have powers over transport and housing.

Former Labour cabinet minister Andy Burnham, who is stepping down as an MP, hopes to become Greater Manchester’s first elected mayor while in the West Midlands, former John Lewis boss Andy Street is running for the Conservatives while Sion Simon hopes to secure the role for Labour.

The West Midlands result is expected at about 15.00 GMT and the Greater Manchester outcome at 18.00 GMT.

Turnout in these elections will be closely watched, amid reports that the number of eligible people voting in Liverpool could be as low at 10%.

In Doncaster and North Tyneside, residents voted for local authority mayors, who are elected leaders of their respective councils.

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Local and mayoral results: Conservatives make gains}