This is a quick follow-up on my previous diary from a week ago, providing an overview of the results of the local elections that took place in Britain on Thursday. The headline results were that Labour gained 823 seats, the Conservative lost 405 seats, but held on in the London Mayoral race, and the Liberal Democrats lost 336 seats. I'll go through the respective results for London, the rest of England, Wales and Scotland, explaining the winners and losers in each "set" of elections.
In London, as I predicted last week, Conservative Boris Johnson won a very narrow victory over the Labour challenger Ken Livingstone, by 1,054,811 votes to 992,273, or by 51.5% to 48.5%. Meanwhile elections to the London Assembly, a weak elected body, with some powers of oversight over the Mayor's office, saw Labour make major gains, now holding 12 seats of 25, up from 8 when these seats were last contested. However, the Conservatives manged to cling onto 9 seats, providing them with the third of seats necessary to stop the rest of the Assembly amending the Mayor's budget.
WINNERS: the Conservatives, but Labour's gains on the assembly and the close result in the mayoral election, with a weak candidate, suggests a positive future for Labour in the British capital.
LOSERS: the Liberal Democrats and the far-right parties. The Liberal Democrats came in fourth in the Mayoral election, behind the Green Party, while the far-right, surprisingly, ended up without any seats on the Assembly.
In the rest of England Labour saw big gains, gaining 534 seats, while the Conservative lost 326 seats, and the Liberal Democrats lost 190. The Liberal Democrats vote actually remained about stable with last years local elections. The problem is that with many councils in England electing a third of their councils every three years, they still have another round of heavy losses to look forward to next May. The Conservative vote, on the other hand, slumped in a way that it didn't do in 2011. In 2011, against expectations, they actually made small gains, with their vote holding up at around 38%. This year they fell to 31%, a worrying sign for them, and a signal that the public's discontent about the British economy is increasingly becoming focused on the Conservatives' (supported by the Lib Dems) austerity policies.
LOSERS: Conservatives and Lib Dems
In Wales the government's losses were limited, principally due to the fact that they had very few seats to defend there. Still the Lib Dems lost about half the seats they were defending, while the Conservatives lost about a third. The few seats at Westminster that the Conservatives and Lib Dems hold in Wales seem very likely to swing back to their historic Labour voting patterns in the next elections to Parliament.
LOSERS: Conservatives and Lib Dems
In Scotland, much like Wales, the Lib Dems lost around a half of their seats, while the Conservatives managed to restrict their losses to around 20%. The big story out of Scotland was the failure of the Nationalist SNP to make major inroads in the Labour vote, with Labour, against predictions, gaining seats. The SNP gained seats, and remain the largest party in Scotland, narrowly ahead of Labour. But they completely failed to take control of Glasgow city council, something they spent a significant chunk of their resources on, and something they had been talking up in the media prior to the election. While the SNP are popular, they have not managed to dislodge Labour in Scotland's urban population centers.
WINNERS: no clear winners, but both Labour and the SNP gained seats and control of a couple of councils each.
LOSERS: Conservatives and Lib Dems.
Overall, a good night for Labour, an average night for the SNP, a bad night for the Conservatives, and a meltdown for the Lib Dems.