Local election results – very early hours 1 am
The first thing that seems clear is that in opinion polls the Liberal Democrats are way down on key factors to do with leadership and economic competence. With only 47 percent of key seats in yet (1,000,000 voters) Labour are down 2%, Liberal Democrats down 3%, and the Conservatives up 7%. Considering that the Conservatives got 40% of the popular vote in the 2007 elections this will be welcome news. Popular vote of course is an attempt trying to get a national feel for what is going on. What matters of course is where you get the votes, in particular in the marginal seats. But this is the worst result for Labour – ever.
This is the first real test for Nick Clegg, and the first election as well that Gordon Brown has faced as Prime Minister. It now seems that the recent dampening down of councillor gains for the Conservatives of 60-80 being over cautious – it looks like 100 or so at the expense of Labour. Rochdale was a hold for the Lib Dems and gained a councillor. 25% disaster 30% very good of the popular vote is what will be looked at with regards the Lib Dems. It seems like last year – a mixed bag.
In Nuneaton and Bedworth Labour has lost 6 councillors – 4 to the Conservative and 2 to the British National Party (far right). This has now gone from Labour to Conservative control. It is one of the places that Cameron would want to win to indicate the momentum is with the Conservatives. The Conservatives have control of Southampton having taken wards from Labour and the Lib Dems (seven in all) – this unexpected change from From No Overall Control makes it look like a very good night for the Conservatives.
The real battle though that most eyes are looking at is the London Mayor elections. The results will be released on Friday evening. But indications are huge turnout – usually local election results get 30 odd % of voter turnout. Right now indications are that in some wards turnout was higher then the General Election of 70 odd %. In Outer London this was especially a marked difference; traditionally Conservative voters. But too close for anyone to call at the moment.
One thing is sure though – tonight looks like being a very bad night for the Labour Party. Not quite the bloody nose that the Conservatives achieved in 1995 when they only had 26% of the popular vote. But if they thought that Gordon Brown would change the electoral fortunes they are mistaken. The question is can Brown change things around or is the rudder’s course set towards the future ice berg of a General Election?
While these results in local elections are not the same as a General Election it seems that the pattern is the Blair gains in the 1990s are going back to the Conservatives. Cameron needs that to happen in a General Election. Two years to go and if a week is a long time in politics then there is still time for anything to happen, but Cameron is the man tonight and if Boris wins London Labour will may have some soul searching to do.