Early results in local elections in the UK have seen the Labor Party and the Liberal Democrats win key councils to the Conservative Party’s detriment.
Labor took control of Plymouth, Medway and Stoke-on-Trent – a former Labor stronghold that saw Tory MPs win the 2019 general election.
The Lib Dems have taken control of Windsor and Maidenhead in the Conservative tradition.
The vote was the first major test of Rishi Sunak’s electoral credibility since he became prime minister.
Only a handful of councils are counted overnight and most results won’t be confirmed until late Friday, but the Conservatives have so far lost control of 11 councils.
The Prime Minister said it was disappointing to lose Conservative councilors. but added that his party was making progress in “critical electoral battlegrounds” such as Peterborough, Sandwell and Bassetlaw.
“I don’t see any major waves of movement towards the Labor Party or excitement over their agenda,” he said.
Some Tories are clearly worried about the outcome, calling them a wake-up call, with some telling the BBC’s chief political correspondent Nick Eardley that apathy – Conservative voters at home – is also a problem. big topic.
Analysis of early results shows Labor is making steady if not overwhelming gains, but the party says it is making good progress on the key battlegrounds needed to win. in the general election.
He said Labor was “on track” to win a majority in the next general election.
Liberal Democrats leader Sir Ed Davey told the BBC he had a “Cheshire-cat” smile on his face after what he said was a “breakthrough night” for his party.
Speaking in Windsor, where his party won a target assembly of Windsor and Maidenhead from the Conservative Party, Sir Ed said: “The Liberal Democrats are the big winners in the local elections of the year. now.
“I am so proud that when Katy Perry and Lionel Richie enter Windsor Castle for Sunday’s coronation concert, they will be entering an area represented by three Liberal Democrats councilors. new.”
The Green Party is hoping to gain full control of its first council in Mid Suffolk. Party co-leader Carla Denyer said her party was benefiting from Starmer’s “deep dislike of the Conservative and unattractive Labor Party”.
With one ward left to claim, the Greens will also become the largest party in East Hertfordshire Council, winning 16 new seats. The Conservatives, who have run the council since 1995, have lost 25 seats – leaving the council in a state of overall no control.
Later in the night, the group celebrated other victories, including the capture of Medway, a council the Conservative Party had held for more than 20 years.
Results will continue to be announced throughout Friday, including three mayoral contests in Bedford, Leicester and Mansfield.
Elections do not take place in London, Scotland or Wales. Council elections in Northern Ireland have been postponed to Thursday 18 May because of the Coronation of King Charles III on Saturday.
The conclusions drawn must be made with caution; cautious because there are still so many results and cautious because it can be very crude to immediately swap local election results to imagine a general election picture.
But there is often a correlation between performance in local and national elections.
It has, without a doubt, been a series of bad results for the Conservative Party so far. “A wake-up call” as one minister put it.
Labor argues these results show it is “on track to win the next general election”.
But some analysts doubt those numbers are good for Labor – given the huge mountain they face to get Keir Starmer into Downing Street and the Conservatives are comfortable with that.
The most widespread sleep-deprived smiles this morning belonged to the Liberal Democrats.
But remember, we’re not even halfway through these results so far.
Ahead of Thursday’s vote, the Conservatives have sought to manage expectations, with party chairman Greg Hands suggesting his party could lose 1,000 council seats.
Labor took a significant lead in opinion polls but also lowered expectations, saying it was expected to win around 400 seats.
Most of the contested seats were last contested in 2019, a tumultuous time for the top two parties.
Thereafter, the Conservative Party lost a total of 1,330 seats in traditionally largely pro-Tory areas. Labor lost 84 seats – just over 4% of their councilors in those areas.
The main beneficiaries then were the Liberal Democrats and independent candidates.
In Thursday’s election, new rules were introduced that meant voters needed to present some form of ID.
The Electoral Commission, which oversees UK elections, said the election was “going well” overall but some people were unable to vote and the impact of the new voter ID rules need to be evaluated.
The Electoral Reform Association, which opposes the change, said there have been “countless examples” of prospective voters being denied voting because of the new rules.
The BBC has not been able to verify the number of voters who turned away because of the new rule. But figures for this are expected to emerge in the coming days.
Most electoral boards in the UK are county councils, responsible for services including garbage collection, parks, public housing and planning applications.
The rest of the elected assemblies are a combination of municipal councils and units – the single local government that deals with all local services.