Vote 2011: Bad for Clegg, better for Cameron, OK for Miliband

Shamik Das summarises the state of play in the English local elections, and the Northern Ireland, Scottish and Welsh devolved elections, and looks ahead to the AV referendum result.

Below is a summary of the state of play in the English local elections, and Scottish and Welsh devolved elections, and a look ahead to the AV referendum and Northern Ireland Assembly election results; Look Left will return as normal next Friday, May 13th

English local elections

It was a bad night for the Liberal Democrats, who suffered their worst local election results since their formation – with Labour taking control of Sheffield – in Nick Clegg’s back yard. Clegg said the Lib Dems were facing “the brunt of the blame” for the coalition’s cuts, and promised to “redouble our efforts” and “get up and dust ourselves down”.

The Lib Dems also lost control of Hull to Labour, lost power in Stockport and Bristol, and suffered heavy losses in Manchester and Liverpool. They even lost control of North Norfolk to the Conservatives, their coalition partners. They lost 12 seats, the Tories gaining 11.

Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, said:

“I haven’t tried to hide the fact that last night was a bad night for us… It begs the question whether the junior partner in the coalition, especially under our voting system, will always get punished.”

Labour, meanwhile, made gains throughout England, making gains from the Conservatives in key marginals, including Gravesham, North Warwickshire, Lincoln, Telford and Wrekin, Thanet, and Hyndburn.

Ed Miliband said:

“The results we’ve seen in English local government up and down this country are sending a clear message to this government, and Liberal Democrats in particular, that there needs to be a change of direction, on some of the key issues, on living standards, on the NHS, and going too far and too fast on the deficit, and I hope the government take heed of that.”

There was also positive news for the Conservatives, who are on course for net gains in their number of councillors – in stark contrast to the Lib Dems. David Cameron said the Tories and Lib Dems would “continue to work together in the national interest”, insisting the coalition government would “work for the full five years” of this parliament.

The projected national share of the vote is: Labour 37 per cent (up 10 points on 2010); Conservative 35% (-); Liberal Democrats 15% (-11); others 13% (+1).

With about a third of all council seats declared – around 3,000 out of 9,000 – in terms of councils, the BBC reports the Conservatives on 68 (+2), Labour 36 (+15), Liberal Democrats 7 (-4), Others 29 (-13), while in terms of councillors, the Tories are on 1,926 (+59), Labour 1,230 (+402), Lib Dems 456 (-358), Others 257 (-122). The Greens are on 13 (+3), with the best news coming from Stoke on Trent – where the BNP lost all five of their seats.

Scotland

The Scottish elections were a disaster for Labour, for whom a lacklustre campaign, complacency, and the insipid leadership of Iain Gray combined to allow the SNP to take total control at Holyrood. Alex Salmond is certain to remain first minister, and is on course for an overall majority – projected to win 67 of the parliament’s 129 seats.

It was Labour’s worst performance in Scotland for at least 80 years, with Gray himself just scraping home by 151 votes. He described the results as “very disappointing”, while Salmond said it was “clear” voters had “bestowed trust” on his party, promising he would seek to hold a referendum on independence this parliament.

As it stands, the Scottish National Party are on 62 seats (+26), Labour 29 (-9), Conservatives 9 (-5), Liberal Democrats 4 (-13), Others 1 (+1). The BBC projection puts the SNP at 67, Labour 38, Tories 14, Lib Dems 6, Greens 3, Others 1.

Wales

The Welsh elections, however, brought much better news for Labour, who are again set to be the largest party at Cardiff Bay – though they may fall tantalisingly short of an overall majority. All will depend on the results in North Wales, which only began counting this morning.

Shadow Welsh secretary Peter Hain said Labour are in a “very strong position to govern in Wales”, regardless of whether they get a majority, Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams said it had been a “tough campaign” and a “big challenge”, and Plaid’s Simon Thomas said it had been a “bad night” for the party. 

As it stands, Labour are on 30 seats (+4), Conservatives 14 (+2), Plaid Cymru 11 (-5), Liberal Democrats 5 (-1), Others 0 (+1).

AV referendum

The count for the referendum on the Alternative Vote takes place at the Excel Centre in London’s Docklands later today. Turnout figures will be released from 2:00, while local totals will start to be counted after 4:00, with the result expected late this evening, by 9/10:00.

It is widely expected that the referndum will fall. The recriminations have already begun. In this morning’s Guardian, former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown accused David Cameron of a “breach of faith”, calling the prime minister a “grave disappointment” and accusing the No campaign of telling a “regiment of lies” – as evidenced by David Blunkett’s admission yesterday that No2AV had “made up” their claims about the cost of implementing AV.

Lord Ashdown says:

“David Cameron is the prime minister. He sets the tone of politics in this country. It is an unhappy fact that when he was asked to dissociate himself from a campaign that was run on the basis of personalisation and personal attacks, and messages that were far more than some subtle bending of the truth, he refused to do that.

“I have to say that he did not dissociate himself from a campaign whose nature I believe every previous British prime minister in my time would have disassociated himself from. That is a grave disappointment.

“This is a triumph for the regiment of lies. We live with pretty strenuous political campaigns in Britain, but these were downright lies.”

While this morning, leading Liberal Democrat blogger and Left Foot Forward contributor Mark Thompson wrote that the AV campaign “was a disgrace from both sides”.

Northern Ireland

The first results are not expected until this afternoon, with the final make-up of the Assembly revealing itself tomorrow afternoon. Verification of ballot papers in the 4,000 ballot boxes began this morning; once this is completed, the counting will commence. The DUP and Sinn Fein are expected to remain the biggest parties.

The BBC will publish the Assembly results when they come in here.

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