The Tories suffered major council defeats in the last general election pre-trial

  • By Sam Francis
  • Political Correspondent, BBC News

The Conservatives suffered one of their worst local election results in a decade in the last major test of public opinion before the general election.

The Tories lost almost half the seats they contested, with only a handful of council and mayoral results pending.

In contrast, Labor won a decisive victory in key councils, regional mayors and the Blackpool South by-election.

The Prime Minister called the results “disappointing” but denied Labor was on course for a general election victory.

In a rare bright spot for the Tories, Ben Houchen was elected for a third term in Tees Valley, with the majority reduced.

Speaking at Teesside International Airport, Mr Sunak said the results showed general election voters would “stick with us”.

“Labour knows they have to win here to win the general election,” Mr Sunack said, but said voters knew “the Conservatives are building a brighter future for Teesside and a brighter future for Britain”.

In total, the Conservatives lost 10 councils and over 400 councilors in England.

Labor emerged as the main beneficiary, gaining 169 new councilors and making progress in areas the party claims is on its way to a general election victory.

The party also won the three newly created regional mayoralties of East Midlands, North East and York and North Yorkshire.

Speaking at Northallerton Town Football Club in North Yorkshire, Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was a “historic victory” for Labor “in the heart of Tory territory”.

The newly created York and North Yorkshire mayoralty includes Mr Sunak’s Richmond constituency.

He said: “We have had a positive campaign here and I am very proud to be standing here as Labor leader to celebrate this historic victory.

“It’s a historic win – these are places where Labor wouldn’t normally have won, but we were able to build on that win and persuade people to vote for us.”

Local government election results have so far yielded plenty of results for parties with around 2,600 contested seats across 107 councils, 37 police and crime commissioners and 11 local mayors.

Results will follow on Saturday and Sunday.

According to research by Sir John Curtis for the BBC, if the whole country went to the polls on Thursday and behaved like those seats, the result would be Labor on 34% and the Conservatives on 25%.

Meanwhile, the National Poll has Labor 20 points ahead of the Conservatives in general election intentions.

Both Labor and the Liberal Democrats are now calling for Mr Sunak’s general election.

video title, WATCH: Local elections in England and Wales… in 60 seconds

The Liberal Democrats said they had proved they could benefit from Conservative difficulties by gaining almost 100 new councillors.

The Green Party missed its target of taking over Bristol council, but continued to win 66 new seats.

Meanwhile, Reform averaged 12% of the vote in the wards they stood in, and came third in the Blackpool by-election, 117 votes behind the Tories.

Despite the poor results, there is no sign of internal revolt against the Prime Minister’s leadership. Only two MPs have publicly called for the leader to be replaced – and no new ones have joined the group in response to these decisions.

Holding the post of Tees Valley Mayor may have given Mr Sunak a lifeline.

But as leading pollster Sir John pointed out, Lord Houchan’s victory was “largely personal” and the results an unreliable indicator of Conservative chances in a general election.

The results of the remaining votes will be even more important for the two leading parties.

Sir John said the Tories could lose 500 councilors – one of the party’s “worst, if not worst” performances in 40 years.

Five council elections are still to come, but all eyes will be on the remaining seven mayoral races to be announced by the end of Saturday – among them London, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, Salford, West Yorkshire, West Midlands and South Yorkshire.

Results in London and Greater Manchester – currently held by Labour’s two biggest national figures, Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham – will be crucial to gauge the party’s public support.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *