With over 750 council seats gained Britain’s opposition Labour party is basking in the warm glow of victory as the local election results come in.
The swing to Labour from the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition is such that if this had been a General election, Labour would have an overall parliamentary majority of over 80.
“These are difficult times and there aren’t easy answers. What we have to do is take the difficult decisions to deal with the debt, the deficit and broken economy that we inherited. And we will go on making those decisions and we’ve got to do the right thing for our country,” said Prime Minister David Cameron.
He has immediately faced calls from the right of his party to get tougher with his Liberal Democrat allies and impose more conservative policies, especially as the Tory vote came under pressure in several places from UKIP, which polled an average of 14%. However, the anti-European party only won seven council seats and did not contest all the seats on offer.
Cameron insisted the results were typical for a mid-term government, but Labour leader Ed Miliband said it was just desserts from a tired electorate.
“They’ve put Britain into recession. They’ve raised taxes for millions of people. They’ve cut taxes for millionaires. From Carlisle to Southampton people have said: we don’t like what this government is doing. This government promised change and it made things worse not better,” he said.
The big outstanding result is London, where Labour’s Ken Livingstone is privately conceding defeat to Boris Johnson in the mayorial contest. In the capital the Conservative Johnson may have benefitted from an error, as the UKIP candidate was wrongly labelled on the ballot papers, despessing the party’s vote in the city, and thus relieving the pressure on Johnson.
With some important Labour strongholds yet to declare, London is still too close to call.
The full results will be available this evening.