Local Elections: The Review
Sadiq Khan and Karen Buck MP celebrate with the new Labour leader of Westminster Council after taking control for the first time ever. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
I’m not going to spend too much time setting out the results from the local elections both because the numbers are easily available elsewhere, and because last week’s preview was pretty accurate in describing what was going to happen. But here’s a quick overview before turning to: a) what it might mean for the party leaders; b) how these results would play out in a general election; and c) what could change that picture over the coming months and years.
I predicted a net loss of 300 Tory seats and 11 councils. It turned out to be 490 and 11 councils (with two left to declare). So bang on for councils but quite a bit worse than I, or most of those doing projections, expected on seat numbers. This was largely due to significantly bigger than predicted swings against them in London and those richer “blue wall” areas in the South East. They got almost wiped out in places like Richmond and Tunbridge Wells, places they held not that long ago.
The Labour and Tory numbers were pretty much in line with the national polls, but the Lib Dems and Greens did even better than expected, which led to the Tory hammerings in wealthier areas; losing places like Wokingham and Huntingdonshire. The Tories did a little better than I expected in some red wall areas, picking up seats across West Midlands councils they already control, and taking Newcastle-under-Lyme, which Labour had been hoping to win. They also did well in a number of North West red wall areas like Oldham and Wirral.
But it wasn’t a uniform picture. In most places Tory vote share dropped back from its 2019-21 peak. Labour picked up Kirklees and Rossendale councils, and the new Cumberland unitary authority which covers the Tory held seats of Workington, Copeland and Carlisle. The Tories also went backwards in Wakefield which doesn’t bode well for their chances of holding the Parliamentary seat in the upcoming by-election.