Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive, Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) said:
“With around half of councils now declared, the most dramatic results so far have been in London with Labour taking control of Barnet, Wandsworth and Westminster councils. This has huge symbolic value and losing all three of these councils in a single election will be a big blow to Conservative morale.
At the same time, it’s part of a longer term trend in which Labour has tightened its grip on inner London. Over the last decade, we have seen an increasing polarisation with the Labour vote concentrated in large cities and university towns and Conservative support spread across the rest of the country. In that respect, Conservative losses in Southampton or West Oxfordshire might be more telling indicators.
However, we shouldn’t forget that in those key battlegrounds, local issues are always crucial factors. Housing, financial prudence and low traffic neighbourhoods were all hugely contentious in Wandsworth for example.
These are elections for the councils that run places, not just opinion polls on central government.
And, as we expected, the number of councils changing hands is relatively limited. The Conservatives have lost just over a hundred council seats but gains have been split between Labour, Lib Dems and Greens.
So far then, a bad night for the Conservatives is not yet translating into a great night for anyone else.”