Local election results 2018: Parties fail to make decisive gains

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Media captionJeremy Corbyn: “There’s much more to come and it’s going to get even better”

Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour achieved “solid” English local election results despite not making big gains.

The party failed to take several targets from the Tories, including Wandsworth, but won back Plymouth and became the largest party in Trafford.

Theresa May praised Tory councillors after winning Barnet, Basildon and Peterborough. The party gained from a collapse in UKIP’s vote.

The BBC’s projected national vote share puts both parties on 35%.

Polling expert Professor Sir John Curtice told the BBC it was “a draw”, so far as both parties’ national performance was concerned. The Lib Dems are on 16% according the BBC estimate, which uses the results of key wards to estimate what a Britain-wide vote would have been.

The Lib Dems regained control of Richmond, in London, from the Tories.

At-a-glance

  • With 127 council results declared, Labour had won 1,675 seats, up 57, the Conservatives have won 1,145, up one, the Lib Dems have won 412, up 43, the Greens have won 32, up four and UKIP have won three, down 118.
  • In the nearly 850 key wards whose results have been declared so far, turnout stands at 36%, the same as in these wards four years ago.
  • The Conservatives gained the London council of Barnet from no overall control, where they picked up seats from UKIP and held other London councils. They also won Basildon and Peterborough, which had both also been under no overall control. But they have lost control of their northern flagship Trafford Council after 14 years of Conservative rule.
  • Labour had high hopes for the night, and have won Plymouth from the Tories and gained Kirklees from no overall control but lost Nuneaton and Bedworth and Derby.
  • The Lib Dems are up one council having gained Richmond-upon-Thames from the Tories – and will be hoping to repeat the result in neighbouring Kingston-upon-Thames.
  • The Greens have gained seats – taking some from Labour in Sheffield and from the Tories in Richmond upon Thames.
  • UKIP, which performed strongly last time most of the seats were fought in 2014, has seen its vote collapse. It has lost more than 100 seats.
  • Sinn Féin has won the Westminster by-election in West Tyrone .

What are the Conservatives saying?

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Media captionTheresa May hails Tory campaigners in Wandsworth

Prime Minister Theresa May visited Wandsworth on Friday morning – one of the Conservative’s key London councils which the party held, despite losing eight seats.

She said: “Labour thought they could take control, this was one of their top targets and they threw everything at it, but they failed.”

She said the party “won’t take anything for granted” and would “build on this success for the future”.

Party chairman Brandon Lewis acknowledged some disappointments, but told BBC Breakfast that voters had chosen the Tories after seeing “good, clear and strong leadership” from the prime minister.

Labour did pick up a seat in the Tory stronghold of Kensington and Chelsea Council, but the Conservatives retained control, despite criticism of their handling of the Grenfell Tower disaster. Tory leader of the council, Elizabeth Campbell, said they needed to “rebuild trust”.

Energy minister Claire Perry said the Conservatives, who were defending about 1,350 seats, had been preparing to “batten down the hatches” after eight years in government but were not “taking the hit” they might have feared while International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the results were at the “higher end” of expectations.

How have Labour reacted to the results?

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Labour had hoped to take control of Wandsworth

Labour has been defending the highest number of seats – more than 2,200 – and throughout the campaign were talking up their prospects in London, where they made gains in last year’s general election. They have gained control in Plymouth and Kirklees but the party’s hopes of seizing control of Wandsworth and Westminster proved unfounded while the party lost ground in Hillingdon.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party’s win in Plymouth was a “fantastic result” and “a sign that Labour is back in this part of Britain”.

Of the party’s performance more widely, he said: “Obviously I’m disappointed at any places where we lost a bit of ground… but if you look at the overall picture, Labour gained a lot of seats across the whole country, we gained a lot of votes in places we’d never had those votes before.”

In a statement he described it as a “solid set of results” which left the party “well placed to fight and win the next general election”.

“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.”

His shadow chancellor John McDonnell criticised “some of the hype” during the campaign about Labour’s chances in London while deputy leader Tom Watson said Labour now had more councillors in London than at any time since the 1970s.

Shadow Local Government Secretary Andrew Gwynne said he believed the anti-Semitism row had had an impact on the result in Barnet, north London, which the Tories took back from no overall control.

What about the Lib Dems?

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Victory proved sweet for the Liberal Democrats in Richmond-upon-Thames

The Lib Dems are confident of winning back control of Kingston-upon-Thames, in south-west London, which they lost to the Tories four years ago, after taking neighbouring Richmond – which had a large majority in favour of remaining in the EU.

The party also withstood a strong Conservative challenge to hold onto Sutton in south-west London – while it picked up nine seats in Kingston-upon-Hull.

Party leader Sir Vince Cable hailed the result in Richmond: “It’s certainly the beginning of the comeback of the Lib Dems. It’s not going to happen overnight – Rome wasn’t built in a day.

“Morale is now very high. We have demonstrated that we can win when we are focused and we can only build on that.”

Good result for the Greens?

It was also a positive night for the Greens, which took two seats off Labour in Sheffield, where the Labour-run council has been engulfed in a row over the felling of thousands of trees. They also took seats from the Conservatives in the London borough of Richmond-upon-Thames and added two new councillors in Trafford and one in Worcester.

Greens co-leader Caroline Lucas told the BBC: “I think the Greens have had a really good night and… even with a fraction of the resources, a fraction of the media time when people see Greens on the ground they like what they see and they elect more Greens. And that’s what we are seeing from Richmond to Greater Manchester to the Midlands. We’ve had some great results.”

UKIP vote collapses

The Eurosceptic party has, as predicted, haemorrhaged support, losing nearly all of the council seats it won in 2014, when it broke through into local government for the first time.

It put up candidates in only 540 seats compared with 2,193 in 2014, lost all ten seats it contested in Basildon, five in Thurrock and seven in Dudley. So far they have lost more than 100 seats and won two – including unseating Labour’s council leader in Derby.

Former deputy chair Suzanne Evans said the fact it had taken two seats in Derby was a sign it could still “put the cat among the pigeons”. Meanwhile its general secretary, Paul Oakley, compared UKIP to the Black Death and said the party “not all over at all”.

“Think of the Black Death in the Middle Ages. It comes along and it causes disruption and then it goes dormant, and that’s exactly what we are going to do. Our time isn’t finished because Brexit is being betrayed.”

What do the experts say?

Analysis

By BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg

Before the full picture is clear, it looks as if Labour has moved on slightly since the general election.

But, in the words of Sir John Curtice, Jeremy Corbyn’s party has come out of this more or less “empty-handed”, and they can’t show the kind of progress they would be shouting about if they were truly convinced they were on a rapid march to Number 10.

The Tories have avoided the kind of wipe-out they feared and there will be huge relief in Conservative HQ this morning.

Read Laura’s blog

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Media captionSir John Curtice: Labour gains are par for the course

Polling expert Professor Sir John Curtice said the Tories were performing relatively well in areas with a substantial Leave vote in the 2016 referendum, where they are picking up votes from UKIP, which did not stand candidates in many areas, while Labour were performing better in places where the Remain vote was stronger and with a higher proportion of younger voters.

What else is happening?

In addition to the council polls, mayors are being elected in Watford, Hackney, Newham, Lewisham and Tower Hamlets while the first-ever mayor for the Sheffield City Region will also be chosen.

There are no local elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, a parliamentary by-election for the Westminster seat of West Tyrone took place, with Sinn Fein retaining it.

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