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Local elections 2016 – the results
All 124 local elections results are now in with both Labour and the Conservatives narrowly avoiding disaster. The Conservatives lost control of only one council with Labour breaking even, the balance of control now remains very much the same. As far as the number of seats lost, Labour have 18 fewer across England and the Conservatives are now down 48. The Liberal Democrats (+45 seats) and UKIP (+25 seats) gained some ground on seats with the Liberal Democrats even gaining full control in Watford.
At the LGiU, we have been covering the results live since the polls closed on Thursday night (with support from the Democracy Club and count correspondents across the country) and while the big story was always going to be about Labour, we feel it’s a mistake to use these elections purely as a barometer for Corbyn’s leadership. It’s important to remember that local elections are not just, or even primarily, about national politics. Most councils have very different politics from their national leadership.
While no opposition has lost this many seats for 30 years, the Labour Party has maintained its control of key councils (Newcastle, Liverpool, Sunderland and Halton) and held places that gave David Cameron the keys to Downing Street in 2015 (Nuneaton, Southampton, Crawley, Harlow). Many Labour councils may feel they are now paying the price of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership in lost seats but most retained control unscathed.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Conservatives at the polls this week either. The loss of the London Mayoralty and losing Worcester to No Overall Control show that where Labour are organised they can still win. The danger for the national party is that they assume that councils will return Conservatives no matter what the government does. That people will simply vote for the Not-Jeremy-Corbyn-candidate.
Voter turnout for the Mayoral elections is also notable. Voters elected Joe Anderson (Labour) in Liverpool, Marvin Rees (Labour) in Bristol, Paul Dennett (Labour) in Salford and Sadiq Khan (Labour) in London. The Bristol mayoral election saw a 17% increase in voter turnout on 2012.
Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive of LGiU, said: “The results of the local elections this week show us very clearly that local government has come to the rescue for the national parties. The results could have been disastrous for both Labour and the Conservatives but it’s the leadership on local councils (on both sides of the aisle) up and down this country, who have been weathering the storm.
Labour losses are fewer than many predicted and this is in no small part because people are delivering a verdict on Labour councils and not simply the national party. By virtue of their duty to balance the books Labour councils have become more pragmatic in their approach to austerity and to public service reform.
Conservative local government have saved the Tories from the effects of their own cuts. They have been effective in managing declining funds whilst continuing to provide public services. They have not been given the boot for failed bin collections or the dimming of streetlights. In fact, these results demonstrate that Conservative council leaders across the country have innovated against the tide of austerity. For that they have been rightly rewarded.”
Notes to editors
Our live coverage and map of the local elections results with analysis can be found here.
Our local government facts and figures page is available here.
A full breakdown of the local elections results will be provided in our member briefing tomorrow. If you would like a copy of this, our briefings are free to members of the press.
The Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) is a think tank and membership body with over 200 councils and other organisations subscribing to our networks. We work to strengthen local democracy and put citizens in control of their own lives, communities and local services. For more information, visit lgiu.org.