England & Wales Democracy, devolution and governance

Morgan McSweeney: the real stories behind the local election results



We hear from our Count Commentator, Morgan McSweeney, Head of LGA Labour, about the real stories behind the local election results.

The election results shows how difficult it is to tell the story of the local elections simply. The national media’s desire for a Westminster focused  and  universal narrative is at odds with what really happens. The story of the local elections are always a multi layered and complex.

At counts around the country candidates with sore feet, aching backs and bitten finger nails will know how much the difference their efforts made in the final outcome.

Incredible results like Hammersmith and Fulham perfectly illustrate how much of an impact a strong and imaginative local campaign, with a group of motivated candidates can achieve great things.  At dawn this morning David Cameron’s favourite council went red.

Strategically important councils for the General Election like Crawley and Cambridge are now Labour and we gained council seats in key parliamentary marginal like Stevenage and Ipswich. Labour also did well in the big cities gaining seats in Newcastle, Sheffield and Birmingham and we now have 95 councillors in Manchester. Tower Hamlets have yet to declare but a high turnout makes me optimistic

As the results came pouring in from around the country at lunch time Labour became the largest party at the LGA for the first time in ten years.

Labour’s results are only part of the local election story. UKIP’s will be written about many times this weekend but some attention  should be  given to the harrowing tale of the Liberal Democrats. I’m not long back from the count in Lambeth where just eight years ago the Lib Dems ran the borough, they now have no seats.  They have no seats in Liverpool or Islington or Waltham Forest all councils where they have been in power over the last five years. Only one upper tier council in the country has a majority Liberal Democrat majority. “Winning Here” posters are currently filling recycling bags across the country. Such is the devastation suffered by the Lib Dems in local government it is difficult to see how they can come back.