Throughout today the results have been flooding in from those local authorities in England and Wales which had gone to the polls yesterday to elect councillors. A total of 2362 seats were up for grabs from the North of England through to the South and in Wales, Anglesey was the only area voting yesterday (a total of 30 seats there).
In England the vast majority of the seats were in the south of England making it firmly Conservative territory where the battle would likely be between the Conservatives and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). The results were as follows:
The big surprise in this election has certainly been the rise of UKIP. An increase in their representation on these councils compared to 2009 of 1737% is a roaring success for the party. Quite what factors went into that success will no doubt be heavily analysed over the coming days as pundits and politicians alike try and work out what effect, if any, this will have on the 2015 general election. There will certainly be a mid-term and protest element to that vote, but it could also be a sign that the three main parties (the Conservatives in particular) are not engaging with the public properly on issues like Europe and Immigration. The rights and wrongs of Europe and immigration policy are not a subject for this blog though.
The UKIP success will inevitably open the party up to greater scrutiny; that was already evidence in the last couple of weeks of the campaign. Not only the personalities of those who have been elected, but the feasibility of its policies (and any gaps in its policies) will also come under greater scrutiny. The question is whether UKIP were prepared for success on this scale; if not, then this could be a one off success for them outside of European elections.
The Liberal Democrats and Conservatives both had a hard time. The Conservatives lost control of 10 of the councils they held going into the election and both the Lib Dems and conservatives saw the number of councillors in the councils which voted yesterday drop by around a quarter. These will no doubt be uncomfortable figures for David Cameron and Nick Clegg as the two work together in coalition, but at the same time try to put their parties on an election footing heading into the 2015 general election.
The Labour Party saw some success, increasing its representation on the Council which were elected yesterday by 117%. The Party held onto Durham, regained Derbyshire (from No overall control) and took Nottinghamshire from the conservatives. These results will certainly take some of the pressure of Ed Milliband from within the party. However, for a party hoping to win the next general election, the results could have still been better.
The other notable result in England’s local elections was the loss of presence from of the British National Party; they lost all three seats that they were defending.
In Wales, Plaid Cymru should also be happy with a 50% increase in representation in Anglesey, one of those local authorities (like Cornwall) where the largest group of councillors are the independents.
There will no doubt be much more analysis over the coming days of these results. The above thoughts are my (extremely) initial thoughts on the results. More will undoubtedly follow here over the coming days as well.