Tory vote holds up in England

By Alex Stevenson

David Cameron’s party has performed unexpectedly well in local elections.

The Tories were down by just two councils but up by 34 councillors by 19:30 BST on Friday, having surprised pundits by the strength of their vote.

Their performance stands in stark contrast with that of their coalition partners the Liberal Democrats, who lost roughly a third of their councillors.

Overnight the party performed strongly in places like Tamworth, holding on despite losing two seats.

In Medway they gained a seat, in contrast to the Lib Dems who lost five, allowing them to retain overall control. Swindon saw four Labour gains but the Conservatives remained in control.

In Mid-Devon the Tories moved into overall control, gaining four seats, while Solihull – an extremely close parliamentary seat between the two parties – was another Conservative gain.

The Conservatives suffered some losses, however.

Poole council slipped to no overall control after a local right-wing group took three of their seats.

North Warwickshire jumped from Tory to Labour control. In Birmingham the Conservatives lost six seats and their status as the council’s largest party.

Ipswich, which had seen a campaign dominated by lollipop ladies, was a gain for Labour with the Tories losing two seats. The Lib Dems lost three, however.

Labour leader Ed Miliband insisted it had been a bad night for the coalition as a whole.

“They must listen to what the public are saying, because they have been sent a very clear message by the British people,” he said.

“Whether it’s a Conservative-led government or the Liberal Democrats, they have been sent a message about the policies they are pursuing for which they don’t have a mandate.”

Foreign secretary William Hague said the results showed it had been a disappointing night for Mr Miliband, however.

“He isn’t doing as well as I was doing when I was leader of the opposition, which wasn’t brilliantly,” he commented.

North Norfolk switched from Lib Dem to Conservative control, after the Tories gained 11 seats from their colleagues in the national government.

The Tories performed strongly against the Lib Dems elsewhere, too. In Windsor and Maidenhead, the Conservatives held the council and gained 14 seats in the process.

The trend was bucked in Eastleigh, where both Labour and the Lib Dems lost one seat each. The Lib Dems remain firmly in control.