Results have been pouring in throughout the day from the local elections, and only one party has much reason to celebrate: the Conservatives. They have scooped up over 500 seats across England, Scotland and Wales, gaining control of 10 local authorities, the Mayoralty of the West of England, the Mayoralty of Tees Valley – an event so extraordinary that a senior Tory had a very earthy way of dismissing the idea of it happening to one reporter, and the Mayoralty of the West Midlands. Victory for Andy Street, the former John Lewis boss, may well be the jewel in the Tory crown, while his defeated Labour rival Sion Simon is expected to take his party to task in his concession speech. The latest local elections news and analysis will be on our liveblog this evening.
The Tories were not just helped by Labour’s weakness, but that of Ukip, which now finds itself tied with a party genuinely called “ The Rubbish Party” at just one council seat. “Wipeout in these local elections means the party heads into the general with its pride wounded and its structure damaged,” Tim Stanley writes. “It should, however, hold its head up high. Few parties can say, as Ukip can, that it got what it wanted. It not only got Brexit – it also got the Tories back.”
Jeremy Corbyn has tried his best to find some good news among the results which has left Labour shorn of nearly 300 seats, boasting on Twitter about his former parliamentary aide Steve Rotherham becoming Mayor of Liverpool, and outgoing Leigh MP Andy Burnham becoming Mayor of Greater Manchester. It’s unclear how much credit he can take for these victories given that Mr Burnham made sure to keep his distance from his leader on the campaign.
Mr Corbyn’s chief ally John McDonnell insists that the answer to Labour’s woes is to show their leader off to voters more, but Tom Harris is sceptical about the strategy. “Anything that changes our perception of him will reveal his so-called authenticity as a mirage,” he writes. “Some may call McDonnell optimistic; he is not, he knows as well as anyone that Corbyn’s leadership doomed the Labour Party long before this election was called.”
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