Despite the negative coverage and comments, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour retain power at many English councils
Counting gets under way in 124 English local council polls. Results were announced for 80 seats and Labour won 40, against Conservative 21, Liberal Democrat 2. But Labour lost its Rhondda Welsh Assembly seat, in its south Wales heartlands, to Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood and the SNP had a clean sweep of seats in Glasgow, once a Labour stronghold. But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn avoided the drubbing some had predicted in local elections. The party won more seats than its opponents. The London mayoal results will be out later today.
BBC reports that Tory vote is down in southern England, which may have helped Labour to retain control of councils in areas such as Crawley, Southampton, Norwich and Hastings, where its vote was looking vulnerable.
Labour’s vote share is down about 6% on average on 2012 – the last time the seats in England were contested – but a BBC analysis suggests its share is up 4% on the general election in key wards, with the Conservatives down by a similar amount. UKIP had a good night and looks set for their first Welsh Assembly seats.
Labour MP Neil Coyle told BBC Newsnight that the party should be performing better if it hoped to win the general election in 2020.
“We are moving further away from government, I think, because we seem to be fixated on some issues that are peripheral and we seem to have a team which isn’t projecting either unity within the party or a vision and policies that the voters want,” he said.
Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson urged Labour activists and MPs to “respect the mandate” given to Corbyn by party members and supporters last year, and suggested that it was too early in his tenure to expect him to be chalking up significant electoral advances.
“I think most people would recognise you can’t consolidate your position in only eight months,” Watson told Sky News.
In total, 2,747 seats in English councils – spanning metropolitan boroughs, unitary authorities and district councils – were up for grabs. The majority of the seats were last contested in 2012.
Thursday’s polls are the single largest test of political opinion before the next general election, which is scheduled for 2020, with 43 million people entitled to take part.