Council Elections 2018: What we know
Despite major scandals including anti-semitism, the Grenfell fire and Windrush, the status quo appears to have prevailed in the local council elections.
Here’s a rundown of how everything stands at lunch time on Friday.
Who are the winners and losers?
The Conservative will be breathing a sigh of relief, rather than celebrating but they’ll be able to spin this as an endorsement of Theresa May’s leadership. They lost Trafford but won back Barnet.
It’s Barnet that proves to be a worrying moment for Labour. They were only one seat shy of overall control, but the Conservative gained enough seats to take control and with an early report of a 70% turnout it looks as if though Labour’s internal anti-semitism row damaged their chances.
Labour won seats and lost control of one council, so a mixed return. Jeremy Corbyn is already spinning this as a night that proves his party has more stable support than predicted after a couple of scandals and they are “ready for a general election whenever it comes”.
Jess Phillips, the MP for Birmingham Yardley who has been a notable critic of Jeremy Corbyn, wasted no time turning to Twitter to declare the night a “failure”.
UKIP are undoubtedly the party that comes out of the election with the biggest problems. They’ve lost 96 council seats so far and on the back of poor results in last year’s General Election and it could spell a return to the fringes.
If there are any winners on the night, then it will be the Liberal Democrats. Whether it’s disillusionment with Labour and the Tories or a symbolic vote in regards to Brexit, they’ve managed to gain 40 councillors, including taking control of Richmond-upon-Thames from the Conservatives.
If the Conservatives lost seats, why is this seen as a good night for them?
They may have feared a Labour surge in the same way as happened during the General Election, but it failed to materialise.
While the results of the council elections won’t affect many of the national issues, there’s no doubt of Theresa May’s supporters seeing this as confirmation that the country still backs her.
What’s the picture in London?
The only councils to change hands in London are Richmond-upon-Thames and Barnet, both that seem in response to the national issues.
Richmond saw a huge swing to give control to the Lib Dems, potentially in response to their pro-European stance. The Conservatives lost 27 seats, Labour lost two, while the Lib Dems took 25 to take control, and the Green picked up four.
Labour lost five seats in Barnet – one of their key targets – to hand Conservatives overall control. Campaigners claim that the anti-semitism row has plagued the party.
Elsewhere, Labour did see a swing in the city and made small gains but in Wandsworth and Kensington and Chelsea, key areas they targeted aggressively, they will consider the night a failure.
What are the commentators saying?
Owen Jones, who has been around the country campaigning for Labour, is adamant that this is was not the bad night the media is portraying for the party. Instead the party had just overpromised ahead of the vote, while the Tories’ low expectations meant they can easily claim a victory.
That sentiment was echoed by Matt Zarb-Cousin, Corbyn’s former spokesman
The Evening Standard say that Labour has been “humbled”
Dan Hodges of the Mail on Sunday took a less subtle approach