- Voters went to the polls at 150 councils across England.
- Labour failed to take control of Wandsworth and Westminster, the flagship Tory councils in London they targeted, while the Conservatives regained Barnet, with Jewish voters turning against Labour.
- The Tories performed well in Brexit-voting areas. They claimed the first council change of the night, taking Leave-voting Nuneaton from Labour.
- Liberal Democrats claimed a huge scalp in Remain-voting Richmond, London.
- Labour gains saw the Conservatives lose control of Trafford, their only council in Great Manchester, after 14 years.
- Pollster John Curtice says: “It’s not clear Labour are anywhere near being in a position to win an early general election.”
LONDON – The dust is settling across England with most results from this year’s local elections now declared.
Neither Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn will go to bed tonight feeling chuffed with how their parties have performed.
The Conservatives performed well in Brexit-voting regions, picking up former Labour council seats up north and in the Midlands. However, the party clearly has a problem in London and other metropolitan cities, where high levels of support for Labour are showing no signs of waning. Corbyn will be disappointed not to have won at least one of his three target seats in London – Barnet, Wandsworth and Westminster – particularly given how much Labour activists were talking up the party’s chances of success in those boroughs. Ultimately, Britain’s two biggest parties remain neck-and-neck, with another hung parliament looking the most likely outcome at the next general election.
Elsewhere, it was a good night for the Liberal Democrats, who pulled off big victories in places like Richmond thanks to support from disgruntled Remain voters. UKIP’s vote pretty much collapsed, leaving big questions about the struggling party’s existence.
This live blog got underway on Thursday evening and closed on Friday afternoon.
14:29 – LABOUR AND THE TORIES ARE NECK AND NECK NATIONALLY
The BBC has released it’s estimate of how the two parties would have performed had Thursday’s elections taken place right across the UK.
BBC Projected National Share of the local election vote (PNS):
— Steve Fisher (@StephenDFisher) May 4, 2018
This shows the two major parties in an effective deadlock nationally with the Lib Dems apparently outperforming their national opinion poll ratings (at least in these elections).
It also suggests that Labour are in a narrowly better position than at the general election where they were 2.4% behind the Conservatives nationally. Here’s what it would look like in terms of seats:
So in theory this would mean a Labour minority government, or some form of coalition between Labour and smaller parties.
14:06: DAN JARVIS SET FOR BIG VICTORY IN THE SHEFFIELD MAYORAL CONTEST
As expected, Labour MP Dan Jarvis is set to be elected mayor of the Sheffield city region. Jarvis intends to stay on as the MP for Barnsley Central if elected today. Here are the first preference votes:
— George Torr (@GeorgeTorr_) May 4, 2018
13:41: A REALITY CHECK FOR LABOUR?
Elections expert Ian Warren has produced a thought-provoking Twitter thread on what the results mean for Labour’s electoral strategy going forward. There is no question that the party is crushing the Conservatives among young liberals. However, Warren argues that there will be no path to Downing Street for Corbyn unless he starts to win back some of the party’s traditional heartlands up north and in the Midlands.
13:10: CONSERVATIVES MAKE MORE GROUND IN THE MIDLANDS
The Midlands has become a major area of focus for the Tories over recent years amid Labour’s struggle to hang on to its traditional voter base there. In the last few minutes, the Conservatives have won overall control of Redditch in the West Midlands. Redditch is a classic swing seat which goes a long way to indicate the direction of travel in that heavily-contested, Brexit-backing part of the country.
Tories gain Redditch -another bad Lab result in trad swing seat-as we said last night, it's like 2 parties are locked in some kind of grim embrace – on results far, a sort of status quo, the trends are being reinforced, May can't truly beat Corbyn, Corbyn can't truly beat May
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) May 4, 2018
12:49: THERESA MAY THANKS BARNET FOR REJECTING “VILE ANTI-SEMITISM”
Speaking in Barnet just now, the prime minister has paid tribute to Conservative activists in the north London, and thanked the borough for rejecting the “vile anti-semitism that has gone unchallenged in the Labour Party for too long.”
"People of all faiths have rejected the vile anti-Semitism that has gone unchallenged in the Labour Party for too long" @theresa_may speaking to Barnet councillors #Election2018 pic.twitter.com/nrXHEPyjXC
— BBC Daily Politics and Sunday Politics (@daily_politics) May 4, 2018
12.15 – CORBYN CRITICS CALL FOR LABOUR ‘INQUIRY’ INTO THE RESULT
As expected, Corbyn’s critics are on the march following Labour’s disappointing results in parts of London and elsewhere. Former leadership contender and long-time Corbyn-critic Chuka Ummuna is now calling for an official Labour inquiry into the result.
Ken Livingstone claiming he was “stating a historical fact” and that he’ll go to court if he’s expelled from the Labour Party. pic.twitter.com/PCiHtT0mol
— Aíne Lagan (@aine_lagan) May 4, 2018
11.15 – LABOUR HAS ‘FAILED TO DEAL WITH ANTISEMITISM’
The fallout over Labour’s poor performance in Barnet continues with the leader of Barnet Labour party, Barry Rawlings, condemning the party’s failure to deal with the antisemitism scandal and speaking “directly to our Jewish brothers and sisters.”
“I am extremely grateful to all members of the Jewish community who cast votes for Labour yesterday. But too many didn’t. It wasn’t because they disagreed with our manifesto, but because they felt the Labour Party has failed to deal with anti-Semitism at a national level. They are right,” he said.
The details from last night reveal some truly shocking results for Labour in wards with large Jewish populations, like this one:
I have the numbers for Kersal (Salford)
Cons 59.03% (+41.23)
Lab 32.36% (-22.34)
LD 2.77% (+2.77)
Con GAIN Lab
Massive swing from Lab to Con in the most Jewish ward in the the country in %
— Russell Langer (@R_Langer) May 4, 2018
With perfect timing, former London mayor Ken Livingstone has been back on the TV talking about Hitler again.
Ken Livingstone claiming he was “stating a historical fact” and that he’ll go to court if he’s expelled from the Labour Party. pic.twitter.com/PCiHtT0mol
— Aíne Lagan (@aine_lagan) May 4, 2018
10:30 – CORBYN: LABOUR ARE “WELL PLACED” TO WIN THE GENERAL ELECTION
In a statement, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says his party are now “well placed” to win the general election.
“Labour achieved a solid set of results in the local elections. We have consolidated and built on the advances we made at last year’s General Election, when we won the largest increase in Labour’s share of the vote since 1945,” he said.
“In these elections we have won seats across England in places we have never held before. We won Plymouth from the Tories, who lost control of Trafford, their flagship northern council. And Labour has won even more council seats than at our high watermark of 2014.
“Last year Labour showed the difference we can make in a full national campaign. This year our members and supporters campaigned in impressive numbers. And their energy, talent and enthusiasm will continue to take Labour’s message of real change to communities across the whole country.
“In a sign of how worried they are about Labour’s advance, the Tories talked up our chances to unrealistic levels, especially in London. The results show they’re right to be worried – we came within a whisker of winning Wandsworth for the first time in over 40 years.
“The Labour Party is now well placed to fight and win the next General Election – and form a government that will work for the many, not the few.”
This is a generous interpretation, at best, of what most Labour activists BI has spoken to regard as a disappointing set of results for the party. In particular, Labour campaigners believe the the antisemitism scandal (see 07.18 update below) damaged their chances. While Labour did very well in London and had a few promising results elsewhere, these results are not in line with how an opposition party should be performing at this stage in the electoral cycle if it hopes to go on to form the next government.
09:43 – UKIP IS NOW LIKE ‘THE BLACK DEATH’
Now the majority of results are in, the battle to define how they are seen begins. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been talking up his party’s performance, telling Sky News that while he is “disappointed” with some of the results that “if you look at the overall picture, Labour gained seats across the whole country. We gained a lot of votes in places we never had those votes before.”
UKIP meanwhile, which had a dreadful night losing seats in every part of the country save Derby, has attempted a rather more novel approach to the spin war, with the party’s general secretary Paul Oakley telling the Today programme that his party is now like “the Black death.”
“Think of the Black Death in the middle ages… It comes along and causes disruption and then goes dormant, and that’s exactly what we are going to do. Our time isn’t finished because Brexit is being betrayed,” he told the BBC.
09:19 – TOWNS ARE “POSING AN ELECTORAL CHALLENGE FOR LABOUR”
One of the biggest trends in British party politics is the divide between cities and towns. Labour – once the party of industrial, working-class towns – is now much more popular with metropolitan, liberal cities, while the Conservatives now represent parliamentary seats and councils in former Labour towns in places like the north and the Midlands.
The Centre For Towns – a think tank spearheaded by Labour MP Lisa Nandy – has this morning expressed concern about what the local election results mean for Labour’s prospects in British towns.
Nandy said: “We are seeing a clear difference between our towns and cities, especially in the North and Midlands where losses in towns like Bolton, Wigan and Nuneaton present a worrying trend.
“Seats like Bolton West, Dudley North and Sunderland Central are key for Labour to win at the next General Election, and there is now a clear and urgent need for a renewed focus on the specific challenges facing our towns.”
09:08: WHAT COULD THIS MEAN FOR THE NEXT GENERAL ELECTION?
One question a lot of you may have in mind is what this result would mean in a general election setting.
Well, right on queue, here’s Sky’s Faisal Islam with a graphic showing exactly what would happen.
Based on the national vote shares we’ve seen at this year’s local elections, a general election would produce another hung parliament, with the Conservatives being the largest party. However, the Tories wouldn’t be able to rely on the support of the DUP this time, and would likely need to persuade the Lib Dems to help them in order to govern.
— Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) May 4, 2018
A senior Labour source has this morning told BI that these local election results “stand us in good stead” for the next election – but the above numbers suggest something a bit different.
08.00 – THE BREXIT DIVIDE NOW DOMINATES BRITISH POLITICS.
The main lesson that can be drawn from these results is that the big divide in British politics is no longer between left and right or rich and poor, but between those who voted for Brexit and those who voted against it. In all the big Remain voting cities and towns Labour has performed well, while in all the big leave voting towns the Conservatives have held ground or actually gained seats. The collapse of UKIP since the EU referendum has left a large chunk of voters homeless and the evidence from these results is that the bulk of those voters have now found a home in Theresa May’s Conservative party. By contrast, Labour’s dominance in London and other Remain-voting areas of the country has held strong tonight with the party on course for their best result in the capital for generations.
The difficulty for both parties is that this divide is now so entrenched that it is difficult to see how either Labour or the Conservatives can continue to make any significant gains into the other side’s territory.
07:18 – THE CONSERVATIVES REGAIN BARNET
There’s been a major setback for Labour in Barnet where the Conservatives have regained the council from being in no overall control. The result is likely to be firmly pinned on Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to deal with the antisemitism scandal engulfing the party in recent weeks and months. 17% of Barnet voters are Jewish and local party sources have told Business Insider that the row has severely damaged the party there.
One local Labour councillor told BI this morning: “Jewish Labour voters turning away in their masses from the Labour Party due to a fear for their safety – the Labour Party should hang its head in shame.”
07:00 – FRIDAY MORNING VERDICT – LABOUR ARE TREADING WATER
Business Insider UK’s political editor Adam Bienkov here with the latest.
For those just waking up, Labour has had a difficult night and are struggling to make the sort of gains the party needs to be confident of being on course to win a majority at the next general election.
Labour spinners have had a bit of a nightmare in these elections, with the party suggesting early on that they were on course to gain several councils in London from the Conservatives. Given that Labour was already incredibly dominant in the city and that the councils in question – Westminster, Wandsworth and Barnet – were very long-term Tory fortresses, that was always going to be a major stretch for Corbyn. At the time of writing the party looks to have fallen short in all three of these, with only gains in Plymouth, Trafford and a few other places that can give the party any real cheer.
The results are by no means a disaster for Labour. Overall the party has advanced modestly from its position in the general election last year and the electoral coalition it forged then appears to be holding for now. But it is not been a great victory either. For Jeremy Corbyn to be confident of winning a majority at the next general election, his party should really be performing a lot better in these sort of midterm local elections. Of particular worry for them is the party’s failure to make any real breakthroughs in the sort fo Leave-voting big towns and suburbs that they failed to breakthrough in last year. While the results are probably not bad enough to trigger yet another full-scale leadership crisis for Corbyn, internal Labour party grumblings about his future are likely to grow once again after tonight.
06:33 – CONSERVATIVE GAINS IN BARNET
The Press Association reports that the Conservatives have taken all three West Hendon seats from Labour in Barnet. It looks like the antisemitism row that has engulfed Labour has had a significant impact in Barnet, which has a 14.7% Jewish population, the highest of any local government council in the UK.
This is from the Independent’s Ben Kentish earlier this morning:
Labour source in Barnet says wards with the highest proportion of Jewish voters are looking like “a car crash” for them. Adds: “Vote down would be an understatement.”
— Ben Kentish (@BenKentish) May 4, 2018
06:06 – AS IT STANDS
Labour : 1,326 (+21)
Conservative: 789 (+6)
Lib Dem: 319 (+42)
Green: 22 (+6)
UKIP: 2 (-86)
Independents: 60 (-86)
05:58 – LABOUR HAVEN’T WON BARNET
Labour have lost West Hendon in Barnet, ending their hopes of taking control of the council.
05:34 – NOT LOOKING GREAT FOR LABOUR IN BARNET
Labour’s last hope of gaining a flagship Tory council in London is Barnet. But the Conservatives have just gained a seat from Labour there in the Hale ward, which has a large Jewish popul It’s not looking great, but Labour could still, just about, win it.
Hale (Barnet) result:
Con: 49.7% (+6.7)
Lab: 37.3% (-2.5)
Grn: 6.7% (-3.9)
LDem: 6.3% (-0.3)
Two Conservative HOLDs.
One Conservative GAIN from Labour.
— Britain Elects (@BritainElects) May 4, 2018
“There isn’t very much for Labour to celebrate this morning,” Britain’s favourite polling expert tells the BBC.
“Labour has come to look as if it’s empty-handed.
Curtice says it shouldn’t be exaggerated how well the Lib Dems have done to win Richmond, though.
“This is not a Liberal Democrat performance on anything like the scale they used to put in before the Coalition.”
05:11 – CONSERVATIVES HOLD WESTMINSTER
More frustrating news for Labour, who had designs on this other Tory stronghold council.
Conservatives: 41 seats (no change)
Labour: 19 (+4)
Poor result for Labour, who will be very worried about Barnet now. It’s their last chance of salvaging some positive news from the night.
04:50 – WANDSWORTH WILL BE A HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT FOR LABOUR
Make no mistake: Failing to win this iconic Tory council will have come as a big disappointment for Labour. They poured significant resources into campaigning there, and the leadership saw it a chance to claim a symbolic scalp over the Tories. If Labour fails to take control of a flagship London council from the Tories – there’s still Barnet to play for – the Lib Dems can claim tomorrow’s headlines.
The Tories, meanwhile, will be hugely relieved.
04:40 – TORIES HOLD WANDSWORTH (JUST)
Labour threw the kitchen sink at Wandsworth, but it wasn’t enough to steal a symbolic victory in a council which has been under Conservative control since 1978. Despite Labour gains, the Conservatives held on by the skin of their teeth.
Here’s the breakdown (they needed 31 for a majority):
Tories: 32 (-7)
Labour: 24 (+6)
Independent: 1 (+1)
There are seven seats left to declare.
04:21 – LABOUR HOLD HILLINGDON
Labour lose four seats in Hillingdon as Tories retain the authority.
RECOUNT DRAMA IN WANDSWORTH
Two recounts underway in Wandsworth, which is fast turning into the nail-biting result of the night. Stay tuned.
04:04: FULL HOUSE FOR LABOUR IN BARKING & DAGENHAM
Labour have taken 51 from 51 available seats in Barking and Dagenham. It’s looking increasingly shaky for the party in Wandsworth, though.
03:59 – ANTI-SEMITISM MADE A DIFFERENCE IN BARNET, SAYS LABOUR COUNCIL LEADER
Labour’s group leader in Barnet, a Labour target, says the party’s recent antisemitism issues has had an impact in the council, where 14.8% of the population is Jewish – the highest percentage in any local government area in the UK.
“Has anti-Semitism made a difference? Yes,” said Labour group leader Barry Rawlings.
“There’s still quite a way for the Labour party to regain the trust of the Jewish community,” he added.
03:57 – LIB DEMS TAKE RICHMOND – CONFIRMED
The Liberal Democrats have taken control of Richmond, a huge result for the party, and for party leader Vince Cable, who came into the elections under pressure to perform.
03:56 – CURTICE: HAS LABOUR DONE ENOUGH TO WIN WANDSWORTH?
Pollster Sir John Curtice reckons Labour might not have done well enough to win Wandsworth.
“It looks like there’s a swing towards Labour in Wandsworth – maybe 4% or so – but that just isn’t quite enough for Labour to pick up the council,” he told the BBC.
He said Labour might still claim Barnet as a consolation prize in London, though. Failure to do that would be bad news for Labour, because it would mean they had failed to make a single headline council gain in the capital. The Lib Dems would claim the headlines.
The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg is hearing similar whispers from Tories, too.
Tory whispers increasingly confident that they have held Wandsworth – not confirmed yet
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) May 4, 2018
03:51 – AS IT STANDS
Labour: 902 seats (+18)
Conservative: 519 seats (+22)
Lib Dem: 229 seats (+26)
Green: 17 seats (+5)
UKIP: 2 seats (-80)
Independents: 50 seats (+11)
03:45 – FIRST RESULTS COMING IN FROM BARNET
The first results are coming in from Barnet, one of Labour’s big three target councils in London.
Labour have taken all 3 available seats in Underhill, with more votes than they received in 2014. That’s a good sign, but it’s too early to tell what it means.
— Barnet Council #StayHome (@BarnetCouncil) May 4, 2018
03:41 – LABOUR EYEING A BIG PRIZE IN WANDSWORTH
It’s looking interesting in Wandsworth, where Labour have gained 5 seats so far.
Remember Wandsworth is one of Labour’s big target seats in London, and a Tory stronghold. A victory there would be hugely symbolic.
London mayor Sadiq Khan, who lives near the counting centre, has gone home.
03:29 – LABOUR TAKE PLYMOUTH
Labour have gained Plymouth from the Conservatives with a swing of 4 seats. That’s the first Labour council gain of the entire night. It’s 3.29 a.m.
79 councils are still to declare. Nearly halfway there!
03:12 – LOOKING VERY GOOD FOR LIB DEMS IN RICHMOND
Over in Richmond, south-west London, 12 out of 54 seats have been declared. The Lib Dems have claimed 9, the Tories 2, and the Greens 1. Looks very much like the Lib Dems have won it.
03:02 – TRAFFORD, AND SOME RARE GOOD NEWS FOR LABOUR
Confirmed: The Tories have lost control of Trafford, their only council in Great Manchester, after 14 years.
We’ve now seen 58 from 150 councils declared, and it’s not looking rosy for Labour, which has gained just 2 seats overall so far.
02:54 – DERBY’S LABOUR LEADER LOSES HIS OWN SEAT TO UKIP
Ranjit Banwait, the Labour leader Derby council, has lost his own seat to UKIP. A remarkable result, and the first UKIP gain of the night so far. BBC News reports that Corbyn visited Derby twice.
02:52 – AS IT STANDS
Here’s where things stand at the moment:
Labour: 654 (no change)
Conservative: 400 (+50)
Lib Dems: 164 (+18)
Greens: 14 (+3)
UKIP 2 (-77)
Independents: 48 (+8)
What does it mean? In short: Labour hasn’t made gains it hoped for. The Tories, on the other hand are are in a slightly better position than they might have expected to be – in no small part because they’re making gains from UKIP, who’ve pretty much disappeared from the electoral map.
LAST LABOUR HOPES FADE IN WESTMINSTER
Labour sources tell Sky News they’re increasingly sure they won’t gain Westminster.
02:39 – LIB DEM FIGHTBACK!
The Lib Dems are increasingly confident they have taken control of Remain-voting Richmond in London from the Conservatives. That’s a massive result. They have got 3 out of the available 6 seats so far.
02:23 – LABOUR MAKE MORE GAINS IN TRAFFORD
Labour has won a fourth seat in Trafford. It’s currently Conservative-controlled and has long been a major Tory bastion in north England, but looks like the party is heading
02:17 – LOOKING GOOD FOR THE TORIES IN WESTMINSTER
Early reports from Westminster – which Labour had hoped to win – look good for the Tories, where three sitting Conservative councillors in Abbey Road ward have been re-elected with an increased majority.
Less positive news in Remain-voting Wokingham, where the Tories lost four seats: two to the Lib Dems, one to Labour, and one to an independent.
02:12 – MORNING!
Thomas Colson (@tpgcolson) has taken over from Adam Payne on the live blog. Stay tuned as we wait on crucial results in Wandsworth, Westminster, and Barnet.
And what a start: UKIP have actually held onto a seat, this one in Derby. They have lost more than 70, though.
01:53: CONSERVATIVES PERFORMING WELL IN PRO-BREXIT AREAS
Theresa May is making inroads into the old Labour vote. News has just reached us that the Tories have taken full control of Dudley and wiped out the local UKIP vote in the process. This was a Labour target seat. It’s a tale of two Englands at the moment. Labour looks set to increase its vote share in the metropolitan cities but just isn’t penetrating in the post-industrial, pro-Brexit regions.
Former advisor to Ed Miliband, Ayesha Hazarika, tells Sky that Labour staff “are probably on conference calls now and not punching the air”… she’s not wrong.
01:44: A VERY DECENT NIGHT FOR THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS SO FAR
It’s still early days, but the Liberal Democrats are having a really good night so far. They have taken seats off Labour in places like Liverpool, Bolton and Sunderland and are confident of winning in Kingston, Sutton and Richmond.
“They could win more councils in London than Labour,” a source tells me. Don’t tell Jeremy Corbyn…
01:37: LABOUR CONCEDES IN KENSINGTON & CHELSEA
No huge surprise here. Labour has conceded defeat in its unlikely mission of claiming Kensington & Chelsea from the Conservatives, The Guardian’s Jim Waterson reports. There were some suggestions that local outrage over the Conservative government’s handling of the Grenfell Tower fire could give Labour enough votes for a historic victory, but this has not happened. A Labour source told me that Advance – the party set up in response to the tragedy which killed 71 people – has won votes which otherwise would have gone to Corbyn’s party.
Labour concedes in K&C. “We have piled up votes in Labour-held wards,” group leader Robert Atkinson tells my colleague @jimwaterson. He adds his party’s gains would be limited because the Tories have managed to “frighten out” their vote across the borough.
— Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar) May 4, 2018
01:33: TRAFFORD HEADING FOR NO OVERALL CONTROL
Labour sources I’ve spoken to say Trafford in Greater Manchester is heading for no overall country – meaning no party has enough seats to claim ownership of it. It is currently Conservative-controlled and has long been a major Tory outpost in the north of England.
01:29: TURNOUT UP IN WANDSWORTH
We are expecting a result from Wandsworth at around 02:00. Turnout could be up as much as 10% there, Sky’s Faisal Islam reports.Keep your eye on this one. A Labour victory in Margaret Thatcher’s favourite borough would be a big symbolic body blow to the Conservatives.
01:25: BRITAIN HAS A NEW YOUNGEST-EVER COUNCILLOR
One for the record books tonight: Britain has a new youngest-ever councillor.
Laura Edwards, aged 19, has been elected as a Labour councillor for Walkden South, Manchester Evening News’ Neal Keeling reports.
Here’s Edwards finding out the good news:
The moment Laura Edwards won in Walkden South pic.twitter.com/ESV8bqSTbQ
— Mari Eccles (@MariEccles) May 4, 2018
00:59: HERE ARE THE TOP-LINE RESULTS SO FAR
It’s closing in one 1 a.m., and results are trickling in. So far, in the 25 councils that have declared, Labour has 198 councillors (down 15 from 2014 results), the Conservatives have 125 (up 33), the Lib Dems have 27 (up 8 ), and UKIP has 0 (down 36). But don’t go drawing any conclusions just yet – it’s far too early in the night to be able to ascertain major trends, and the key battlegrounds (London, Plymouth, and so on) have yet to declare.
00:55 SADIQ SETTING UP LABOUR FAILURE IN WANDSWORTH?
The London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has been chatting about the Labour Party’s chances of taking Wandsworth from the Conservatives. Khan says winning there would be beyond the party’s “wildest expectations” – which, as The Independent’s Ashley Cowburn points out – is a bit different to what he was saying not long ago.
Khan playing down Labour’s chances of victory?
Sadiq Khan, November 2017: “There is now no corner of London where Labour can’t win – and with enough hard work we can challenge the Tories even in their crown jewels of Wandsworth and Barnet."https://t.co/Gfa1ohZlaj
— Ashley Cowburn (@ashcowburn) May 3, 2018
00:45: AN ANTI-BREXIT BACKLASH IN RICHMOND?
Meanwhile, in the borough of Richmond in southwest London, Lib Dem activists are quietly confident of prising the 64-seat council from the Conservatives. This would be an almighty result for Sir Vince Cable’s party when you consider the current composition of the council. The Tories have 39 seats here, compared to the 15 held by Lib Dems. Nearly 70% of voters in Richmond backed Britain to stay in the European Union. This would be a big Remainer uprising.
00:32: TURNOUT HIGH IN KEY BATTLEGROUNDS
Turnout may not seem like a hugely important statistic – but it really is. Labour knows it will probably need relatively high turnouts in their target boroughs (turnout at local elections is usually around 30%) in order to optimise their chances of winning.
With that in mind, numbers coming out of Trafford – its primary target borough outside of London – are encouraging. The turnout is 43% in the Mancunian borough, according to people at the count. It looks like it’s going to be a close-fought contest between the Conservatives and Labour up there. Read more about why Trafford is such an intriguing battleground.
Meanwhile, in the London borough of Kensington & Chelsea – which was always an unlikely gain for Labour – some of the turnouts being reported from wards include 39% and 45%.
00:20: UKIP SET TO “PLUMMET”
Political scientist, Michael Thrasher, is talking to the BBC about UKIP.
He predicts the struggling party’s vote will “plummet” and says what matters is “where that vote will go” – the Conservatives, Labour or the Lib Dems.
One must not forget that in the 2014 local elections, UKIP under the leadership of Nigel Farage won 17% of the national vote. However, the party has achieved its lifelong ambition of Brexit, and since then has been on a downward spiral. It has had about a million leadership elections, a financial crisis and votes ex-voters ditching it en masse.
To borrow from Oscar Wilde, “there are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”
00:10: CONSERVATIVES CLAIM FIRST COUNCIL CHANGE OF THE NIGHT
We’re seeing our first results but at this point in the night, it’s simply far too early to draw any massive conclusions. Here are some standout early declarations:
The Conservatives have just gained the borough of Nuneaton from Labour. Its the first council to change hands tonight. The Tories are showing signs of strong performance in Brexit-voting areas, as many commentators predicted.
Elsewhere, in Swindon, southwest England, the Conservatives have retained the Lydiard and Freshbrook. This good news for the Tories and a is a poor result for Labour, who had pinpointed this ward as a key target.
Positive early signs for May and less than encouraging signs for Corbyn – but there’s a long way to go.
23:49: LABOUR NOW FOCUSING ON PLYMOUTH
Labour is now so pessimistic about its three big London target boroughs that it regards Plymouth on the southwest coast of England as its best chance of a headline victory. As polling guru Matt Singh has just pointed out to me on Twitter, this wouldn’t exactly be an earth-shattering result for Corbyn and co:
That would be a shocker for Labour. See this re Plymouth: https://t.co/e0AMKJEdBB
— Matt Singh (@MattSingh_) May 3, 2018
The Conservatives currently hold 30 of the 57 seats on this council. Labour has 27.
There’s some talk of Labour holding its post-results speech there tomorrow…
23:32 A SENIOR LABOUR SOURCE JUST TOLD ME…
It could be an underwhelming night for Labour.
I’ve just been told over the phone that Labour currently considers Wandsworth and Westminster to be “out of reach” despite the party’s vote share in the capital set to go up. It’s also – for now at least – given up on Kensington, where they fear the party set up in response the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Advance, will take votes from it.
It’s looking better for Corbyn in Barnet where both Labour and Tory sources regard the contest as on a knife-edge.
The prime minister would be over the moon if the Conservatives hold on to all three London boroughs.
23:15: LIZ TRUSS: “IT’S GOING TO BE A TOUGH NIGHT FOR CONSERVATIVES”
Conservative minister Liz Truss tells Sky it’s going to be a “tough night” for her party but says Labour won’t perform as well as a party in opposition should.
“It’s going to a tough night for Conservatives,” she said. “We’ve been in power for 8 years. If Labour doesn’t create a significant difference between themselves and the Conservatives, they won’t have done very well.”
23:08: “LATE SURGE” OF VOTERS HAS TORIES WORRIED
Sky’s Faisal Islam reports there were was a late surge of voters in the key battleground of Wandsworth, south London. This is a big worry for Conservatives there, who fear Labour could take control of the borough which has been Tory-controlled since 1974.Here’s a bit more info on why Wandsworth is such a big deal.
22:48: “AWFUL NIGHT FOR THE GREENS”
Early whispers suggest it could be a really tough night for Greens. The party will be the first to admit it has suffered since Corbyn took Labour further to the left of the political spectrum, with hoards of Green voters jumping ship to back the socialist Labour leader. My sources tell me it’s going to be another tough night.
“We’d be pleased with any net gains – but where we’re fighting it’s excruciatingly close,” a senior Green source has just told me. The party is currently bracing itself for losses in the London boroughs of Camden, Islington and Lewisham, plus in Oxford and Norwich. “We’re looking at a fairly tough night overall,” they added.
22:26: WHAT ABOUT THE LIB DEMS?
With all the May vs Corbyn talk it’s easy to forget that other parties are involved. Sir Vince Cable’s Liberal Democrats will be hoping an increase in support from disgruntled Remainers will help them make some gains in areas outer London and the southeast of England.
A quietly-confident Lib Dem source tells me: “Sutton looks good. Oxford is alright too.”
What does this mean? Well, the Lib Dems currently dominate Sutton council, holding 43 seats of the 54 on offer. Our source tells us they are confident of retaining their strong position. It currently has just 8 of the 48 seats in Oxford. However, our source believes it could be about to add to that total.
22:31: THERE IS NO EXIT POLL
Sadly, there is no exit poll tonight, meaning we won’t be getting moments like this from last year’s general election:
22:27: FIRST THINGS FIRST: WHAT WOULD BE A GOOD NIGHT FOR MAY AND CORBYN?
Local elections are unlike general elections in the sense that it’s not as simple as one party won and the others lost. What us political nerds look for is based on things like trends, geography and net gains/losses. Here’s a useful explainer from polling guru, Matt Singh, whose blog you can find here.
“Watch the gap between the two main parties. On these measures, a good night for the Conservatives and bad night for Labour would be the Tories winning the national vote. Every governing party to have won *any* round of midterm local elections has remained in office at the next general election. Oppositions usually win local elections. “Note that’s been the case even after general election landslides, and last year’s result was a Tory lead of 2.5 percentage points. So Labour scraping home with a tie or a narrow victory (under 5 points) on national vote share would be an “OK” night for both main parties. “And Labour winning it comfortably would be a good night for them and a bad night for the Tories.”
22:13 – FURY AS VOTERS TURNED AWAY FOR NOT HAVING ID
It seems a British election doesn’t go by without some polling station drama.
Across the country, people have been denied the right to vote in local elections for the first time due to a controversial new pilot of checks that force voters to prove their identities before casting their ballot.
A 76-year-old man who has lived in Bromley for 40 years told The Independent he was “shocked” to be turned away because he did not have a bank card or passport. “This is a nonsense scheme,” Peter White added.
I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this.
22:05 – IT LOOKS CLOSE IN BARNET
We have received these messages from a Labour councillor in Barnet. Looks like the north London borough – currently controlled by the Conservatives – is on a knife-edge. The Conservatives currently hold 31 of the 63 seats on offer here. Labour controls 30.
22:00 – ARE LABOUR SET FOR DISAPPOINTMENT IN LONDON?
A fantastic night for Labour would be taking Barnet, Wandsworth and Westminster from the Conservatives. A very good night would be taking Barnet and Wandsworth. An ok night would be taking Barnet. However, despite early predictions suggesting Barnet is an all but certain gain for Labour, whispers suggest it could be very, very close.
A senior Labour source told BI: “Lots of people out campaigning but no indication we’re on course to win those councils. Not been seeing the kind of swings wins there would require.”
On Barnet specifically: “A fighting chance.”
A number of Labour sources have also expressed concern about lower-than-expected turnout.
Of course, this should be taken with a pinch salt. The night is young, not a single ballot box has been opened and this could just be a classic case of calculated expectation management. But it’s interesting nonetheless.
Here is when we are expecting to get results from these 3 key boroughs:
Westminster – 02:30
Wandsworth – 03:00
Barnet – 04:00
22:00 – GOOD EVENING!
… and welcome to Business Insider’s UK local elections live blog. Adam Payne here (@adampayne26). I’ll be manning the blog before handing over to my esteemed colleagues, Adam Bienkov and Thomas Colson.
What are the key things to look out for? Labour is expected to record its highest vote share in London for many years. It has its eyes on the Conservative-controlled boroughs of Barnet, Wandsworth and Westminster. However, Jeremy Corbyn could have a less successful night elsewhere in the country, with Leave-voting areas in the north in particular set to shift in favour of Theresa May’s Tories. Read more about what regions to keep an eye on:
- 5 key battlegrounds that could decide Theresa May’s fate »
- Britain’s leading pollster, Sir John Curtice, tells BI that Brexit voters could save May in the local elections »
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