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The New Statesman 2017 local elections liveblog

The results as they happen – live! 

Welcome to the New Statesman's liveblog. Press refresh for updates.

18:00: The clock tolls six. The ballots have mostly been counted. I'm going to close the live blog now in the spirit of weekends and leave you to our excellent commentators on the local elections. But first a summary of the top lines:

The Tories won 11 new councils in England and Wales, and made significant gains in Scotland. The final tally is still being counted, but the national vote share is projected at 38 per cent.

It was a dismal day for Labour and the Lib Dems, but more so for Ukip - which has lost almost every seat it gained.

In Scotland, the SNP scored some major victories, including seizing Glasgow City Council (although the final working arrangements need to be sorted out).

Former Labour leader wannabe Andy Burnham is the new metro mayor of Manchester, while Tory candidate Andy Street won the West Midlands. 

Stephen Bush's nine thoughts on the local elections

George Eaton on Conservatives and patriotism

James Millar on why the Tory surge in Scotland is overrated

Roger Scully on bleak days for Labour in Wales

17:44: I completely understand why the media is fixated on the Tories in Scotland. I'm fixated too. I grew up in Edinburgh at a time when being a Tory was so rare it was seen as an odd throwback hobby, like stamp collecting.

However, James Millar has quite rightly pointed out that now everyone has noted that Tories in Scotland are a Thing, the story is going completely out of proportion. As in, winning six seats in the general election would still be a good night come June. The SNP continue to be the dominant force in Scotland and it is completely daft that the media doesn't acknowledge it. 

If you want to know why the Scottish press can't bring itself to congratulate the SNP, or what Nicola Sturgeon has in common with a "three headed dog-octopus from outer space", read on.

17:28: Shout out to Stephen, who not only spent the night recording Labour's death by a thousand cuts, but has actually come back into work again and has written his latest thoughts on the results.

At time of writing, the Conservatives have taken control of 10 more councils and added 304 councillors to their total across England (I’m ignoring Scotland and Wales for a moment as they were last contested in 2012, a very good year for Labour, whereas the rest of these councils were last up for grabs in 2013 and 2009)

To put that into context, in 2009 – 12 years into a Labour government , with a highly unpopular leader in Gordon Brown, in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis – the Conservatives won control of seven more councils and added 244 more councillors overall.

You can read all of his eight thoughts on the local elections here.

17:24: AAAND Cambridgeshire metro mayor falls to the Tories. Confused that Cambridgeshire is a city region? Me too. I used to live in Cambridge, and it was many things, but not a metropolis. Well done James Palmer. You can read more about the task ahead of him here.

17:10: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has broken his silence. He says that Labour "came very close" in the West of England mayoral race (but lost), and admits: "We've had very disappointing results in other parts of the country."

Asked about his leadership, he reminds the world he's been elected twice, and says "he's loving every minute of it". 

While Labour's Westminster leadership tries to stay cheerful, Kezia Dugdale in Scotland looks at the world through grey-tinted spectacles these days. She was fairly gloomy when I met her before Christmas, and seems resigned today. After all, this follows Labour's trouncing in the Scottish parliamentary elections of 2016 and the general election of 2015. I'm not sure she's "loving every minute of it" though.

16:56: Back to Scotland, where it's clear that Labour has lost control of Glasgow city council, but less clear how the biggest party, the SNP, will run it. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already been down there for the photo op and a victory speech, but while the SNP have 39 seats, the others put together have 46. My bet would be that the SNP team up with the Greens. But finding one other seat to tip them over the threshold could be tricky.

16:40: Tory Andy Street has been elected metro mayor for the West Midlands (on the left, below, looking excited). The former John Lewis boss narrowly beat Labour's Sion Simon in the first round and has now clinched it 50.4 per cent to 49.6 per cent. 

This is big. As Andrew Carter, chief of Centre for Cities,says, the West Midlands is the "spiritual home of the Labour right". It's stacked (at least for now) with Labour MPs and other representatives, and should have been "a walkover" for Simon, according to Jonn Elledge, editor of our sister site Citymetric.

Jonn says of this electoral upset: 

That’ll be a genuinely heartbreaking result for Simon, who quit parliament in 2010 to campaign for a Birmingham mayoralty. To get this close, and then lose by 0.4 per cent... Poor guy.

The upside, such as it is, is that a Tory victory in one of the big conurbations probably does mean that metro mayors are here to stay. It’s a bad day for Labour; it might be a good one for England’s cities.

Jonn has been very rude about our liveblog, but I can assure you, if you want in-depth metro mayors commentary after we move on, you should check out his Citymetric blog.

16:33: Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has made a stirring speech about how his party can double the number of party seats in the general election. 

It's a shame then, that the local election results are not pointing in that direction.  

16:30: Theresa May is crushing the saboteurs again. Speaking to reporters, she downplayed what the local election results mean for 8 June, but also found space to criticise "bureaucrats in Europe who are quesitoning our resolve to get the right deal". Only a general election vote for the Conservatives, she says, will strengthen her hand. 

16:15: Well, well, well. Look what just happened in East Renfrewshire. This is exciting (hear me out). 

If anything symbolised the #Indyreffightback, it was the toppling of Jim Murphy, the Labour MP for East Renfrewshire in 2015. Murphy had slogged away for the No campaign during the 2014 referendum, braving egg throwers and cybernat centurions to make the case for the UK in 100 towns across Scotland. Being ousted by the Scottish National Party’s Kirsten Oswald was the biggest metaphorical egg of them all. 

Still, Murphy only lost by 3,718 votes. The self-styled defenders of the union, the Scottish Tories, have spied an opportunity, and made East Renfrewshire a target seat. Paul Masterton, a local activist, hopes to follow in the footsteps of Jackson Carlaw, who snapped up the same area for the Tories in the Scottish parliamentary elections last year.

But standing against him is Labour's Blair McDougall, the former Better Together chief, and the biggest unionist of them all. So could Labour win East Renfrewshire again?

Well, no, if the local election results are anything to go by. The Tories are now the biggest party, winning two more seats, while Labour lost two and are now in third place. 

16:06: Jeremy Corbyn tweets his congratulations to Andy Burnham (who incidentally stayed in the shadow cabinet last June. 

Corbyn has been relatively quiet on Twitter today, only breaking his silence to congratulate Liverpool metro mayor Steve Rotheram and Welsh Labour. On the other hand, David Cameron (who this time last year was PM, let's not forget), has interrupted his stream of photobombs with the Royals to congratulate the Tories on "great results". 

16:00: This is undoubtedly Ruth Davidson's day north of the border. The fact the Tories are making gains all over the country, from the Highlands to Falkirk, is a huge vindication for her leadership strategy and style. It's worth mentioning at this point that it's hard to find anyone on the pro-union side of Scottish politics with a bad word to say about her personally. How could you, when she poses for photies like this one?

15:50: Edinburgh just confirms everyone's suspicions. Labour was the largest party at the last elections, but lost so many seats it is now trailing in third place, behind the SNP (19 councillors) and the Tories (18).

15:44: More results from Scotland showing the extent of the Conservative revival, and the extent to which Scottish politics is now a two-horse race between the SNP and the Tories. In Falkirk, the SNP held onto their position as the dominant force, but the Tories gained six councillors, while Labour lost four. In Angus, the SNP lost six seats, and the Tories gained five. This means that a council that was previously SNP-dominated is now split fairly evenly between the Tories and the SNP. 

15:37: Julia here, taking over from the sleep-deprived Anoosh and Stephen dream team. On the back of the Burnham win, here's Kirstie McCrum on the homelessness challenge facing him in Manchester. Burnham's already pledged to donate a portion of his £110,000 salary to create a new anti-rough sleeping fund.

15:30: It's official. Ol' Andy "eyelashes" Burnham is elected mayor of Manchester. And by a big margin, it seems.

15:25: Labour has been talking up its performance in Wales, saying it defied the pundits by holding on in key cities.

But Roger Scully, the Welsh political science professor, has written a piece for the NS giving us his view of what Labour's performance in Wales means for the party's prospects. It's more to do with Tory and opposition party patchiness than Labour strength.

15:18: Rumour has it Andy Burnham has won the Manchester mayoralty outright - he's been seen hugging supporters

15:10: Over at CityMetric Jonn's been eating Weetabix out of a mug. On the NS web desk, we are launching an inquiry into who ate all the general election doughnuts:

We think it might be Jonn and the Weetabix is a decoy.

14:53: All you need to know: The Tories have gained 11 councils, Labour has lost five, when opposition parties are supposed to be the ones making gains in local elections. The Tories have won two of the mayoralties, Labour one. The Tories are sweeping up votes in areas that were once Labour heartlands across the country, from south Wales to Tees Valley to Glasgow. The Lib Dem surge hasn't happened – the party has lost 38 seats – and Ukip has been wiped out, losing all its seats so far (with one gain) – which has benefited the Conservatives, not Labour. When extrapolated into the national picture, it is likely that Labour will do even worse in the general election in a month's time. Happy summer everyone.

14:41: In all the excitement, psephology king John Curtice's national projection is in, and it's pretty in line with the polls:

As Stephen points out, remember that even opposition parties that go on to get smashed in general elections slightly overperform in local elections. If this is Labour overperforming, the 8 June is going to be a dismal night for the party.

14:19: We're all doomed. The Tories have won the Tees Valley mayoral race, which Labour's candidate Susan Jeffrey was supposed to win. Think about these areas voting Tory: Hartlepool, Redcar, Darlington, Middlesbrough... And if you put Labour's wipeout in its heartlands to one side for a moment - as my colleague Jonn points out, it looks like ALL our metro mayors are now likely to be men.

14:07: So where are we at, people? Or rather, why are you still reading this? Why aren't you at work? Who am I?

Here's a summary:

 - The Tories have gained nine councils in England, one in Wales. They have gained 350 seats.

- Labour has lost one council in England, three in Wales, and one in Scotland (Glasgow). It has lost over 250 seats.

 - The Lib Dems have lost 39 councillors.

- The Greens have gained two councillors.

- Ukip has been wiped out. It has lost all its seats so far, but won one councillor on Lancashire County Council. This means it is drawing with the Rubbish party, which gained a seat in in East Ayrshire's Irvine Valley ward.

- The Tories have won the West of England mayoralty, Labour has won the Liverpool City mayoralty.

- The West Midlands mayoralty is down to a nailbiting run-off, and the Tories won the most first preferences in the Tees Valley race.

14:01: The Tories win the first round of West Midlands mayoral election. Labour will hope to win Lib Dem and Green second preferences but it'll be tight. Here are the results:

Conservatives: 216,253 (42%)
Labour: 210,259 (41%)
Lib Dems: 30,378 (6%)
UKIP: 29,051 (6%)
Greens: 24,260 (5%)

Labour will hope the pick up second preferences from the Lib Dems and Greens, but 

13:55: Read Jonn's analysis of the Liverpool result on the CityMetric liveblog. He thinks this is a "pretty great result for the Tories", because they have come second on Merseyside. 

13:39: Steve Rotheram of Labour has won the Liverpool mayoral election. Not a surprising outcome, but there are challenges for Rotheram ahead. "The inconvenient truth that will likely preclude Rotheram from doing anything all that significant with the mayoralty: few people not already sympathetic to his politics, or with a Liverpudlian identity, care," writes my colleague Patrick, who is from the area.

Rotheram won the race outright, with these results:

Steve Rotheram (Lab) - 171,167 (59.3%)
Tony Caldeira (Con) - 58,805 (20.4%)
Carl Cashman (LD) - 19,751 (6.8%)
Tom Crone (Grn) - 14,094 (4.9%)
Paula Walters (UKIP) - 11,946 (4.1%)

13:09: More concerning numbers as Tories lead Labour in Tees Valley mayoralty first preferences. Labour's candidate was supposed to win it. Over at CityMetric my colleague Jonn writes, "That's a 481 vote lead for the Conservative, Ben Houchen. Sue Jeffrey could pull this back on second preferences, but it's going to be tight."

13:04: Labour has lost control of Derbyshire County Council, which is set for a Conservative victory. Labour has never lost this council when in opposition before.

12:56: Still no declared council gains or losses in Scotland, but the Tories have gained 21 seats, Labour has lost 21, the SNP has won three, and the Lib Dems have lost one.

12:23: So far in Scotland:

No council gains announced so far. Labour has lost overall control of Glasgow City Council, but we don't know who'll be running it yet. The Borders appear to be tied between Tories, independents and the SNP. The Conservatives have gained six seats, the SNP three and the Greens one. Labour has lost seven seats and three independent councillors have lost their seats.

11:58: So what exactly is going on in Scotland? The Tories are doing really well, everywhere, basically, gaining from Labour and the SNP. They are winning in places where they have never had a presence before. Motherwell, Paisley, and one of the most deprived areas of Glasgow, Shettleston. It has also taken a ward in Ferguslie Park, one of the most deprived areas of the country. The SNP is supposed to take control of Glasgow City Council, after Labour's historic loss, but Tory gains in the city might make it difficult. This could be a blow for the SNP, which had the seat in his clutches. But of course the biggest blow - a double body blow - is to Labour, which is now losing out in Scotland to the SNP and the Tories.

11:47: Glasgow has fallen. Labour has lost control of Glasgow council for the first time in 40 years. Labour's symbolic hold on Glasgow is lost while the the Tories are doing well in Scotland, gaining in areas where they have previously had little support.

11:40: Rubbish party gains in East Ayshire. And I'm not talking about Labour...arf arf.

Sally Cogley of the Rubbish party has taken a seat in East Ayrshire's Irvine Valley ward. It's a single-issue party - committed to improving rubbish collection in the Irvine Valley. This means the Rubbish party has beaten Ukip so far in the local elections.

11:17: The first Scottish results are in, and the Conservatives are up by 11, Labour down by three. The SNP are down five.

11:13: The Scottish results are coming in, and it doesn't look good for Labour. But will the Tory resurgence that didn't quite materialise in Wales happen in Scotland? Julia reports from the left-wing town of Paisley to find out how voters feel about changing allegiance.

11:11: There may be some hints in the experience of Labour Leave as to why their party is losing support nearly a year after the referendum. You can read Julia's report on the campaign here.

10:53: I know what you're all screaming at your screens: What is happening with England's metro mayoral elections? Well, the results haven't come in yet (apart from a Tory winning West of England), but CityMetric editor Jonn Elledge is running his own liveblog to analyse the results as they come in. Follow it here.

Jonn's worried about turnout. Here's what he writes:

"One interesting/worrying thing about these results: turnout seems to have been higher in areas with more Tory voters . . . I doubt this will be enough for Andy Burnham to lose – but it’s probably not a great sign for Labour’s broader prospects."

10:01: As predicted when the left and liberals suffer huge defeats, the prospect of a "progressive alliance" is popping up everywhere. Again. Former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown, who told me last month that the "growth of the Lib Dems" is "not sufficient", is banging the drum for his movement, More United, which looks to back progressive candidates regardless of party. He warns that parties should start working together to counter the dominance of "Blukip".

The Greens, who have gained five councillors, are making the most of progressive alliance enthusiasm. With Ukip's vote collapsing, the Greens are now the main opposition to the Tories on the Isle of Wight, where they have won their first ever council seat, and their general election candidate there Vix Lowthion is being backed by More United. I hear the co-leader Jonathan Bartley has been dispatched to the Isle of Wight to greet the new Green councillor.

09:46: It looks like Tim Farron's doing something right by having God on his side though. The Lib Dems have just denied the Tories a majority on Northumberland County Council - by the draw of a straw.

09:32: While we wait for the next results to come in, here's what I've been thinking: political insiders tend to big up the potential of the Lib Dems. It happened before the 2015 general election, it's happened ahead of these local election results, and it even happened during Cleggmania, after which the Lib Dems actually lost seats. Actually, any regular person not obsessed with the ins and outs of Westminster - whether they voted Remain or Leave - could tell you that the Lib Dems' obsession with reversing Brexit is not the only message voters want to hear from them, that Tim Farron isn't a particularly compelling leader, and that they have a lot to come back from having been utterly wiped out only two years ago.

This isn't the only obvious thing that we obsessives have tended to analyse away. Ukip's wipe-out with such a populist Tory government committing to a hard Brexit is an obvious outcome, and Labour's terrible performance following its civil war and leader's shortcomings too.

It's not a very interesting analysis, but it's worth saying that things are playing out almost exactly as you'd expect in these political circumstances.

09:25: Here's what Essex looks like now, guys:

09:15: It's important to remember that the trends so far might not tell the overall story of the local election results. Only 1,246 of 5,061 seats have been declared, and we haven't had a Scottish result yet. Also, we've only heard one mayoral election result.

08:53: The scale of Ukip's collapse is the most dramatic aspect of the local election results so far. It has lost ALL its councillors so far, including being wiped out in top Ukippy areas like Lincolnshire, where it had nine councillors, and Essex, where it also had nine. The Ukip leader Paul Nuttall is due to be running for Lincolnshire's Boston & Skegness constituency in the general election, so it looks like a lot more tear-soaked tweed is on its way. But it is difficult to take comfort from Ukip's collapse. Labour has not been the main beneficiary of it. As Stephen, who heroically blogged the early local election results overnight, writes, the Tories are doing so well because Theresa May has donned Nigel Farage's clothes

08:27: Where are we at then? The Tories have gained five councils, Labour has lost two. The Greens are up, the Lib Dems are down, and Ukip has lost all the seats it has been defending so far (including in places where it has had a strong presence, such as Lincolnshire and Essex).

The numbers?

In England, the Tories have gained four councils and 112 seats. Labour has lost 47 seats (thats a loss of seats in 9/10 councils) and neither gained nor lost a council. The Lib Dems have lost 16 seats.

In Wales, Labour has lost three councils and 73 seats. The Tories have gained one council and 39 seats.

The only mayoral result so far as been a win for the Conservative Tim Bowles in the West of England.

The Scottish results have yet to be announced.

07:57: The sun has risen and the spinning has begun. The Tories are playing down their success, with crower-in-chief Michael Fallon warning that there is "nothing yet to crow about" and Iain Duncan Smith taking to the airwaves attempting to sound sombre ("we don't want to read too much into this"). This is to keep the bogeyman of a Corbyn premiership alive to scare voters into choosing Theresa May in the general, and also to avoid complacency in the party. Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell has been doing the rounds, admitting that the party has seen "mixed results", blaming the media for reporting successes as "defeat", but also making the most of the low expectations attached to Corbyn, saying the "wipe-out" predicted by commentators and polls has not materialised. This is Corbyn's eternal trump card - rock-bottom expectations always means that Labour can brief that he is "surprising his critics".

Vince Cable is out to bat for the Lib Dems, admitting that there hasn't been "a spectacular breakthrough", but emphasising Lib Dem success in areas where they hope to win back general election seats. Ukip sounds the least optimistic note, with nothing really to say other than it still has 300 councillors, which sounds like bigging up what they still have to lose rather than what they've hung on to. The Greens are bouyant, having gained five seats - one in the tricksy seat of the Isle of Wight. Molly Scott Cato MEP is briefing that Green gains across the West Country "bodes well" for her parliamentary electoral chances in Bristol West.

07:51: The Tories win Lincolnshire, with 53.4 per cent of the vote (+17.4) - winning a majority on a council that had no overall control before. Ukip loses every seat here, an area where its leader Paul Nuttall is standing for the general election, in Boston & Skegness, the former being the town with the biggest eastern European migrant population outside of London. Similarly, the Tories have gained majorities on the Isle of Wight, Warwickshire, Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire.

07:32: More Labour holds in Wales: Swansea and Torfaen. More relief for Welsh Labour, after a shaky performance in the Valleys (it lost the heartland seats of Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent). The Tories also kept Labour out of controlling Bridgend. Although a lot of Labour seats have been knocked by independents, it's tricky to see what's going on here. If Labour is losing in areas where the closures of the coal mines are etched into the landscape, it can't be that the Tory taboo is protecting it any more. It looks more like an urban/rural split - Labour has hung on in Cardiff, Newport and Swansea. Labour is still more popular than the Tories in Welsh cities. There were relatively smaller Leave votes in those areas too. Corbyn critics in the party will put positive news in Wales down to Carwyn Jones, the First Minister who has kept his operation rather separate from the Westminster party leadership. In the Welsh Assembly elections last year, Jones insisted to me that the results were all his responsibility, "not Jeremy's". 

07:24: For those of you just joining us, the big picture of the local election results is what you'd expect: the Conservatives making historic gains (no governing party since 1974 has done this well) and Labour falling behind. The Tories have gained control of five councils; Labour has lost control of two. The Lib Dem resurgence hasn't happened, with party grandee Vince Cable admitting "there hasn't been a spectacular breakthrough". For those searching for a smidgen of good news, Ukip has completely collapsed - losing all the seats it is defending so far, and the Greens have a net gain of five seats. So the only parties gaining are the Tories and Greens.​

07:09: Morning, it's Anoosh here - Stephen's gone off to sleep/cry into his pillow for a bit. Labour has held Cardiff, a sliver of good news for the party in an otherwise gloomy performance in Wales, where Labour has just about held on in the cities (it staved off the Tories in Newport, for example, and increased its majority on Swansea City Council) but is stumbling in the Valleys. I reported on the decline of Labour's popularity in its Welsh heartlands here, have a read.

05:50: Right. We've now got a bit of a lull. There won't be much to report on until 07:00, when my colleague Anoosh will take over for a bit while I catch up on sleep. I'll be back around 13:00. I keep hoping to close one of these things with happy news but that doesn't look to be happening today. See you all in a a little over an hour.

05:48: The Conservatives have won the West of England mayoralty, narrowly defeating Labour in the second round. 

05:11: Here's what we know.

In England, the Conservatives have gained control of four councils and have added 105 councillors to their total. It is in terms of gains the most successful performance by a governing party since the 1974 reorganisation. As far as the Tories go it is their best performance since 2008, when they were facing a knackered Labour government during the financial crisis. Part of that is because of the collapse of Ukip, who have yet to win a single seat and have lost all of the 39 seats they have been defending so far. They have also benefited from Labour's uneven performance. In some places the party is gaining some ground thanks to Ukip's collapse or holding steady but is being overwhelmed by the Conservative surge. In others the party is falling back and is losing by a greater margin. Labour are 45 seats down so far. The Liberal Democrats look to have increased their vote share but fallen back in the areas they can actually win seats - they are nine seats down overall. The Greens have made two gains.

In Wales, Labour have lost 68 councilllors and have lost control of two councils to independents. They have held off the Tory charge into Newport. But the Conservatives have still picked up 24 seats overall. Plaid Cymru have gained 12 seats. The Liberal Democrats have lost 5. 

We still have many, many results yet to come. 

05:00: A couple of interesting conversations that I think Labour and the Liberal Democrats will have internally after this result and very probably after the general election, and indeed, some of the things I've already been texted.

1) Why did Labour do so much better in Wales' cities than in the Valleys?

2) How can Labour appeal to people who used to vote Ukip and are now buttressing May's majority?

3) Has Tim Farron's 2nd referendum strategy come undone?

4) Is the progressive alliance the only way forward? 

04:56: Labour have lost their majority in Bridgend

04:52: More bad news for the Liberal Democrats. They've lost their group leader in Cardiff. These really are very bad results for both Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Neither looks in a position to gain seats in Parliament on these results. 

04:47: Labour are holding up well in Swansea. After very bad early results in Wales, the results are less bad for Labour than they looked though obviously they are not where they need to be at this point in the election cycle. 

04:41: Labour have held onto the council seats that comprise Cardiff Central. 

04:38: Ukip have lost every seat they held in Hampshire County Council. 

04:30: Here's where we are. In England, the Conservatives have gained control of four councils and have added 105 councillors to their total. It is in terms of gains the most successful performance by a governing party since the 1974 reorganisation. As far as the Tories go it is their best performance since 2008, when they were facing a knackered Labour government during the financial crisis. Part of that is because of the collapse of Ukip, who have yet to win a single seat and have lost all of the 39 seats they have been defending so far. They have also benefited from Labour's uneven performance. In some places the party is gaining some ground thanks to Ukip's collapse or holding steady but is being overwhelmed by the Conservative surge. In others the party is falling back and is losing by a greater margin. Labour are 45 seats down so far. The Liberal Democrats look to have increased their vote share but fallen back in the areas they can actually win seats - they are nine seats down. The Greens have made two gains.

In Wales, Labour have lost 68 councilllors and have lost control of two councils to independents. They have held off the Tory charge into Newport. But the Conservatives have still picked up 24 seats overall. Plaid Cymru have gained 12 seats. The Liberal Democrats have lost 5. 

04:23: Interesting tidbit from the Greater Manchester race which may have a more important echo in the West Midlands. Turnout has been higher in heavily BME wards. If that pattern can hold in the West Midlands it will do Labour no end of good. 

04:17: Labour have held off the Tories and done so well in Newport.  Still waiting for the second round in the West of England Mayor. Very close. Labour should win if everyone casts their second preferences how you'd expect, but narrowly. But here's the thing. If you voted Green and expected a Liberal Democrat vs Conservative final round, you will have cast a now entirely useless second preference. Very hard to tell how that will go. 

04:02: Here's where we're at with more than 600 council seats declared. The Conservatives have gained control of four councils and have increased their number of councillors by 104, on course to achieve the best performance by a governing party since 1974. The Liberal Democrats have lost nine councillors overall in a disappointing night for them. Labour have lost 44 seats. At time of writing, the Liberal Democrats have more councillors elected tonight than Labour, though that reflects the more favourable map for that party rather than a realignment of forces. The Greens are up five. Ukip have yet to win a single seat and have lost all 39 that they have defended thus far. 

03:59: First round result from the West of England! The Conservatives lead with 53,796 ahead of Labour 43,627. But neither has more than half of the vote so it comes down to transfers. 

03:53: How much of this is about Ukip's collapse and how much of this is about Labour's weakness? Well, it depends on where in the country you are. But it's worth looking back at the last time a party had a collapse like the one Ukip is having: the 1989 local elections. Then, the newly merged SDP-Liberal party (the Social and Liberal Democrats) had a horrific night, losing seats. The Tories gained but so did Labour. While Ukip have a right-wing manifesto, a bigger chunk of that vote has voted for Labour in the past than is returning to Labour now. 

So, yes, part of tonight is that Ukip is collapsing. But the other equally important part is that Labour is not an attractive destination and in parts of the country is losing votes, not merely stagnating. 

03:50: A small piece of history: the Conservatives have gained 98 councillors so far tonight and if they can hold onto that lead they will make history as the most successful governing party since 1974 when the new boundaries were drawn. 

03:45: The Conservatives have gained control of another council - taking the Isle of Wight, dominated by independents, back into Tory hands. 

03:42: Labour have regained a seat in Grangemouth in Cardiff. Interesting subplot in Wales is the complete failure so far of Plaid Cymru to make any real gains at Labour's expense. Seeing as basically everyone else is doing it, why can't they?

03:38: Lewis Baston the elections expert has a depressing thread. 

The summary? This is the worst performance for an opposition ever. Indicates a blowout win for the Tories on 8 June. Neither Labour nor the Liberal Democrats are where they need to be to win. 

03:30: Labour have lost control of Merthyr Tydfil to independents. 

03:26: The Conservatives have gained control of Monmouthshire. Labour have retained Newport but lost control of Blanaeu Gwent to independents, largely an independent group made up of deselected Labour candidates. 

03:24: A good result for the Liberal Democrats in Eastleigh, where they have gained seven seats from Ukip.

03:19: With 600 seats declared, here's where we are. The Conservatives have gained control of three councils and have added 95 councillors to their total. The Liberal Democrats have won 94 tonight, down 10 overall. Labour have won 66, down 43, the Greens have won 9, up four. Ukip have lost 36 councillors and have yet to win a seat anywhere. 

03:17: Ukip have been completely wiped out in Lincolnshire

03:13: Here are the results for the West of England mayor from Bristol. 

I emphasis that is just the Bristol results. The rest of the conurbation is less Labour-friendly so don't get too excited - that lead could be eroded. But a very strong result for Labour out of Bristol all-but-guaranteeing their participation in the second round at least. 

03:10: Labour's Ros Jones has been re-elected as Mayor of Doncaster. 

03:03: Counting is underway for the West of England Mayor. It looks like a Labour vs Liberal Democrat run-off in the second round but it is on a knife edge with South Gloucestershire and Bath and North-East Somerset to come in. 

02:56: A question a lot of you are asking:

Obviously Labour will have many more council seats overall around the country. But as I wrote before the contest, the map tonight is not favourable to Labour even before you count the further political problems. As it stands the Liberal Democrats have 84 council seats and Labour have 65, so the possibility that the Liberal Democrats will do better tonight shouldn't be discounted entirely. But there is a large chunk of Labour councillors who should be returned easily in Wales. So it seems highly unlikely to me, but not impossible.

02:52: With over 500 council seats declared, here's where we are. The Conservatives have gained control of three councils and are up 85 councillors overall. Labour are down 40 councillors, the Liberal Democrats are down 9, the Greens are up four. Ukip, who have yet to win a single council seat, have lost 33 so far. 

The big shift is that Ukip have collapsed, largely to the benefit of the Tories. In some parts of the UK Labour are holding steady but being overtaken, in others they falling back overall. 

The Liberal Democrats look to have gained votes in the wrong places but are falling back and not making gains in seats they might actually win in a general election. 

02:47: Really bad news for the Liberal Democrats. Not a single gain in Cheltenham. Labour have lost three county council seats in Gloucester to the Conservatives. But Labour have gained three seats in Flintshire, consolidating control there. The Welsh picture is improving. 

In another English marginal, Tamworth, the Tories have taken three seats from Labour. 

02:45: The Conservatives have taken control of Gloucestershire County Council, where they were the largest party, running a minority administration. 

02:42: What about the man who could have been Labour leader right now?

Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram will be fine. The interesting question is the West Midlands. The Tories will probably win the first round but lose on the second. Not sure there is enough Ukip in that conurbation for them. Because of the supplementary vote section I reckon they need to be 10 points head to win. 

02:35: John Band is asking what I expect will become the question in Labour's internal debates over the coming weeks, months and years.

It's complicated. In Warwickshire alone, in Nuneaton the Labour vote has gone down. You have seats in Warwick North where it has gone up a bit but the Tory vote has gone up a lot. In Aetherstone it has stayed the same but I assume there is churn. I think that the big thing is probably graduates but I will sit down with the census and the full results next week. 

02:30: With more than 400 council seats declared, the Tories have taken control of Warwickshire and Lincolnshire county councils and are 76 councillors up on 2012. Labour are down 36 seats overall, the Liberal Democrats are down 6, the Greens are up two. Ukip have yet to win a seat. 

What seems to be happening:
Ukip are completely collapsing, benefiting the Tories for the most part.

Labour are in a state of collapse in Wales and some parts of England, but even when they advance or hold steady they are being overhauled by the Tories' Ukip boost.

The Liberal Democrats may be gaining votes but they are in the wrong places - they are losing seats and being overhauled by the Tories.

Labour is having a bad night in Wales. 

02:27: Liberal Democrat readers in search of something to cheer, you will be pleased to learn that you have taken out the Conservative council leaders in Dorset and Somerset. You are also currently level with Labour as far as councillors on the night are concerned, with 59 each. 

02:25: We still have a lot of results to come but here's a depressing number to watch. In 2009 - 12 years into a Labour government led by a then deeply-unpopular Gordon Brown - the Tories gained 244 councillors and control of seven more councils. Possible they could equal that by the time the results come in. 

02:20: With around 300 council seats declared, here's where we are. The Conservatives have gained control of two councils overall and have added 51 councillors to their total. Labour ar down 32 councillors, the Liberal Democrats are down eight, the Greens have gained two, Ukip have lost every council seat they have fought and are 26 down so far.  

02:15: The Conservatives have gained control of another council: Lincolnshire. 

02:12: More Tory gains, this time in the Stevenage wards of the county council. 

02:01: Here's where we are. The Ukip vote has collapsed, largely benefiting the Tories (some of it is going elsewhere but the net beneficiary is the Conservative Party). In some places, Labour is holding up well but simply being overtaken by a surging Tory vote. In others, Labour is actively collapsing. The Liberal Democrats are increasing their vote share a little but failing to convert it into gains. In fact they are actually losing seats.

I am filling out an application for Canadian citizenship. 

01:58: Another bad result for the Liberal Democrats, this time in Wrexham. The Tories have gained the seat. 

01:55: Warwickshire was no overall control - Labour became largest party in 2012, but now the Conservatives are back in control. It's a very bad sign about Labour's chances of winning the marginals it needs if it's to get back into office in June. 

01:52: The Conservatives have gained control of Warwickshire County Council. 

01:51: With 250 seats declared, the Conservatives are up 52, their best results in a decade. Yes, their best results since a decade into the Labour government when Tony Blair was hugely unpopular. Labour are down 29 seats, Liberal Democrats down 8, Greens up one. Ukip down 18 - they have yet to win a seat. The main beneficiaries of their collapse are the Tories.  

01:47: The big story of the night is Labour falling back and the massive increase in the Tory vote at Ukip's expense. But we knew both of those from the polls and from by-elections since the referendum. The new story is that the Liberal Democrats are not doing significantly better than 2013, a very bad election cycle for them. 

01:41: The Liberal Democrats have lost Taunton North but held Taunton East. As with Somerset, that's a Lib-Con marginal where they should be making big gains to have a shot at winning the seat back in June. 

01:35: The Liberal Democrats have just four seats in Somerset to the Tories. The Liberal Democrat fightback may just be a hashtag. 

01:31: Tom has a question.

Hard to say until we see the projected national share, which the BBC will generate in the afternoon tomorrow. That will tell us what the vote share would be if everyone in the country had voted. So far, I think this is showing the Tories making big gains both directly from Labour voters and from Ukip's collapse, which I expected. Not sure if the Liberal Democrats are gaining votes in the wrong places or they are just not gaining votes. If the former, that's what I thought would happen. If the latter, I got that very wrong. Read my five assumptions about the election here. 

01:24: With 133 seats declared, here's where we are. Tories are up 37 council seats. Labour down 25. Liberal Democrats down six. Greens stagnant. Ukip down 9.

01:21: More gains for the Tories, this time in Gloucestershire. Labour on course for a very bad result indeed in June so far. And a very bad result tonight, too. 

01:17: Barry Gardiner is flying the flag for Labour on Radio 4. I find his voice very soothing and it is now quite late so if I don't update for a bit, it's because I've fallen asleep. 

01:14: Greens have held one, lost one.  So far, Labour is looking at the loss of more than 200 seats in England alone on current form. 

01:12: The Liberal Democrats have gained a seat in Flintshire off the Tories and held three in Leamington. 

01:07: We've had 70-odd seats declared so far. The Conservatives are up 21, Labour down 15, the Liberal Democrats down two, Ukip down six. It looks to be a very bad night for Labour everywhere and in Wales in particular. We are very early on so the pattern could change radically. But so far, all signs are that Labour will get a worse result on 8 June than the polls suggest. 

01:03: Chaminda Jayanetti is worried I will be spending all night listening to Nigel Farage on LBC. 

The BBC has started doing results on Radio 4. No advert breaks! 

01:01: More spirit-sapping number-crunching from Ian Warren.

And it gets worse:

00:55: Another cheerful fact for you all. All the historical trends suggest that the opposition parties will do worse on 8 June than they are doing tonight. This is their ceiling. The governing party however ought - if the usual trends apply - to do better. So we really are looking at a catastrophic result on 8 June at the moment. 

00:50: Sorry about the silence, I had to go downstairs to use the loo and howl a little. While I was there, Labour have lost another seat in Warwickshire, this one in Nuneaton, a marginal they must win if they want to get the Tories out in 8 June.

It's still very early in the night. But all the results tell the same story. The Labour vote is down and seems to be going everywhere. In Wrexham they have now lost to practically everybody - Plaid Cymru, Tories, Independents. Ukip are collapsing and helping the Tories. The Welsh results are bearing out the dire figures in that shock poll. In England so far it looks a little bit worse than the recent poll figures, which showed Labour recovering some ground to hit around 30 per cent again.  

00:42: Wait, it's now all three county council seats that Labour held in Harlow that they've lost. 

00:40: Good news! Ukip have lost a seat in Basildon. Bad news! Labour have lost another seat in Harlow. 

00:37: More joy from Ian Warren. 

No, sorry, not joy. The other thing. 

00:32:  Beth Desmond has given voice to my inner screaming.

Well, it's very early. We only have one set of results out of England. It suggests so far that Labour is headed for the crushing defeat suggested in Cardiff University's poll of Wales. So far - and again, it's early so things could improve or get worse or stay the same - it looks about what you'd expect for a 45% - 28% result on 8 June. 

00:29: Would you like two more depressing analyses of the Wrexham results from Ian Warren? No? Well, tough, I'm giving it to you anyway.

 

00:20: Two more Conservative gains (notional ones as they have new boundaries in Warwickshire) today. They have made a gain from the Liberal Democrats in Blandford North and from Labour in Harlow. Very early results but they are very good for the Tories, bad for everyone else. 

00:17: The question of the hour.

With the massive, massive caveat that these are early results and things could look very different by 02:30am: Worse. All the historical trends suggest that Labour and the Liberal Democrats will do worse on 8 June than they are doing today and the Tories will do better. The Tories are doing very well so far. Labour are falling back most everywhere. The Liberal Democrats are making gains but not in an efficient way so far (ie. they are on course to get good second places in Labour seats in big cities and not much else).

It's still very early in the night though. 

00:10: More number-crunching from Ian Warren. Again, just one result, don't read too much into any of these individually, but in Wrexham at least the story is one of Labour collapse. 

00:09: More bad news from Wrexham. Labour have lost a seat to the Tories. Again, early results, don't read too much, but so far suggesting that Labour is heading for a very bad defeat on 8 June. 

00:07: Another Labour loss in Wrexham, to an independent again. It really doesn't look very good at all there. 

00:06: Several Southport and Liverpool residents have got in touch to let me know that they think my earlier source was wronging the local paper in terms of its coverage of the contest. 

00:05: I should let you know that Scotland's local elections use the single transferable vote not first-past-the-post. Here's the Electoral Reform Society's explainer as to how it works:

The Single Transferable Vote (STV) is a form of proportional representation which produces a proportional parliament with local representation and the direct election of individuals. Each constituency sends a team of MPs that represent the diversity of opinion in that constituency to parliament. 

In the polling station, voters put numbers next to candidates in order of preference. To get elected, candidates need to reach a set share of the votes, determined by the number of positions to be filled.

Each voter gets one vote, which can transfer from their first-preference to their second-preference, so if your preferred candidate has no chance of being elected or has enough votes already, your vote is transferred to your second choice candidate in accordance with your instructions. STV thus ensures that very few votes are wasted, unlike First Past the Post, where only a small number of votes actually contribute to the result.

00:00: Mark Wallace offa ConservativeHome has got some numbers from a result in Central Bedfordshire and again, the story is of Labour decline.

On a happier note, Labour have held a council seat in Camden, up in a by-election today. 

23:57: Ed Miliband's old data guru Ian Warren has crunched the numbers in Wrexham's first result. Again, it's just one result, don't get too depressed or excited but here it is:

23:52: Labour have gained a seat in Monmoutshire off an independent. Helpfully, I have asked three different people if the independent stood again this time and recieved two different answers. I'll let you know when I get the tiebreak. 

23:50: More results. Labour have held a seat in Flintshire in Wales, but lost a seat to the Liberal Democrats in Monmoutshire (also in Wales).  We've only got a handful of results and one swallow doesn't make a summer. But so far the results in Wales are bearing out that shock poll suggesting Labour are in for a shattering defeat in that part of the world on 8 June. 

23:48: Another result, this time an early declaration from Warwickshire, where Labour have lost a seat to the Tories. In micro, don't worry about individual losses - who knows what circumstances there may have been in this one race. But overall, Labour really shouldn't be losing seats to the Conservatives. Remember that the opposition party tends to do worse than its local election performance even when the local election is held this close to polling day. The governing party does better. 

23:45: More info on why Southport may have had lower turnout than the rest of the Greater Liverpool conurbation.

23:41: Andrew Forbes is asking what it's looking like in Scotland. 

I'm hearing a lot but not much I can double source place to place. But the story is what you'd expect: SNP and Tories doing much better, Labour collapsing, Liberal Democrats stagnating. For those of you not glued to the warp and weft of Scottish local government, don't forget that these councils were last contested in 2012, back when Labour were still a thing in Scotland. So expect it to be brutal. 

23:39: Another caller on line one. 

They will be announced together. Get in touch with your questions via email, Twitter or my Facebook page

23:35: We will start to get official turnouts from the counties around midnight. It seems that the turnout figures for the six metro mayoral races are all over the place. One Conservative reckons it depends how much voters feel part of the biggest city in the combined authority, which will do interesting things for the results if that's borne out. 

23:32: Good question: are Labour and the Liberal Democrats just playing down expectations by saying the Tories are doing better than they expected? Well, mebbe. But usually when that happens, the two parties pick different things (not deliberately, you understand). That both are citing the same cause suggests it may well be true. And it's not just the leadership saying it. I'm hearing the same glum noises from activists in the country. 

23:28: One of the polling district in Southport has turnout of just seven per cent, Patrick reports. The big question is whether that is that Southport is a little detached from the rest of the conurbation politically and is therefore voting less, or if turnout is low throughout. 

23:25: Although my Liberal Democrat sources are still sounding a bit deflated, I am hearing good things about their chances in Cardiff Council, which they gained control of when Labour were in government and lost in 2012. So there are some gains for the progressive parties - but at one another's expense. Yay? 

23:22: Rumours that Labour's vote has collapsed in Swansea via the excellent volunteers at BritainElects (give them a fiver!). 

23:20: Danny Buck has asked what Star Wars reference would be appropriate for tonight's result. (It's 4 May, ie May the Fourth, ie May the Fourth Be With You, Geddit?)

Only one answer: the Imperial March.

23:17: A RESULT! An actual result! Labour have lost a seat in Wrexham to an independent candidate but held one in Flintshire, (both are in Wales). Wrexham is a Labour-Tory marginal so it's not good for them to be slipping there, though control of the council is between Labour and independents. 

23:15: Some good news! Labour are feeling more bullish about their GOTV across Merseyside and still think they will win the Metro Mayor race in the first round - "around 60%" one campaign source tells Patrick. 

23:12: Sorry, slight IT crash.

More anecdata, this time pointing towards a better turnout than feared in the Merseyside mayoral area.

23:05: More on low turnout in the metro mayoral results.

As he says, anecdotal, but fits with what I'm hearing. Massively differential turnout across the combined authorities. (Some parts are having other, more established elections, some just the metro mayors.) 

23:02: Labour's Andrew Gwynne has joined the LBC panel. So for those of you playing "shag, marry, kill" with me, your options are: Andrew Gwynne, Michael Gove, and Nigel Farage.

23:00: Chris Williams has me bang to rights. 

They also use it in London and the city of Liverpool itself but not the surrounding boroughs. (Ditto Bristol but not the other combined authorities.) However, for most people voting for the six new mayors, this will be a new electoral system. 

22:57: More news from Patrick. One area of the Merseyside mayoralty with good turnout is the stomping ground of Carl Cashman, the Liberal Democrat candidate for the mayoralty. Labour think they may need two rounds to win the Merseyside mayoralty. (Under the rules of the metro mayor, unless one candidate gets half of the vote in the first round, the top two go through to a run-off and everyone else's second preferences are counted to decide the winner.) 

22:55: People asking how I'm getting results. A combination of local sources, the Local Government Information Unit, and LBC. Currently on LBC: Michael Gove, Nigel Farage. Two points of a fiendishly difficult "shag, marry kill". 

22:52: Good news! The anti-Conservative parties are singing from the same hymnsheet. Bad news! That hymnsheet is that Theresa May's unhinged speech yesterday when she claimed that the EU was trying to interfere in the UK election has wiped out the Ukip vote and galvanised Tory voters to head to the polls. 

22:48: Depressing news from a well-placed Liberal Democrat source.They think the Tories have swept the board and that they and Labour are both in for a disappointing night. They still expect some gains but not the bounty they hoped for. 

22:45: Textgate is rumbling on. Did I misread Patrick's message by accident?

As if I would be inventing ways to stretch out the time until the first results (at 01:30 or thereabouts!). As if. Or at least, not until midnight when I will start to go a little mad.

22:42: What will these results tell us about the general election? Well, the historical trend is that we'll have an idea of the ceiling of Labour's support and the floor for the Conservatives. Why? Because voters tend to use local elections to punish the government, boosting the opposition's vote share. (In terms of seat gains, that these seats are largely in enemy territory for Labour means that the seat gains will tell us less than the projected national share of the vote will). But when the election is held in the same year but not the same month, what has happened in the past is that voters do a bit of both - punishing the government but not as much as they do in an off-year.


(Thanks to Max from Durham Uni for that question! Send yours to stephen dot bush at new statesman.co.uk)

22:37: Liberal Democrat politician says the Liberal Democrats are on course to do better than we expect. 

I know, I'm shocked too. 

22:32: The pressing question of the night.

I am well stocked for Coca-Cola and oranges. No sleep until Andy Burnham smiles! (Manchester mayoral result is due at six o'clock tomorrow).

22:30: IPPR North have issued a statement about the expected low turnout. Turnout tends to grow with these new organisations - the first London mayoral election had a 34 per cent turnout, in the last one more than half of the city's voters turned out - but it does look as if the numbers will be low, but not as bad as the record-breakingly low police and crime commissioner elections in 2011. Here's their boss, Ed Cox:

“It looks as though a triple whammy of election fatigue, mixed messaging on devolution from the current government, and a failure to really bring voters along the process, could hit turnout in these important elections.

 

If this happens, the London experience shows Mayors can increase turnout over time by working closely with businesses and communities: turnout in London in 2000 was just 34% but in 2016, 45%.

And more generally, the next government must reboot devolution with a proper process for deal-making, with a clear but flexible “menu” of powers in return for an accountability “price”.

22:28: People are asking what a "good night" for Labour and/or the Liberal Democrats would be.  I've written in detail about where is up for grabs tonight - but the short version is this is a very tricky map for Labour, with a lot of Lib-Con battles and not much Labour-Tory. It's a good map for the Liberal Democrats though, who should be targeting more than 100 gains tonight. 

22:27: Patrick aka Notorious PMG has been in touch to accuse me of not reading his text properly. Which is fair enough, as I hadn't. He was talking about parts of the outer boroughs of the combined authority. No news out of Liverpool itself as yet. 

22:20: There are six brand new metro-mayors up for election tonight. They have a new electoral system - the supplementary vote, where you pick a first and second preference - but there has been precious little from central government advertising or generating buzz around them. That may have hit turnout. Southport's finest export, our own Anthony Howard Scholar Patrick Maguire tells me that turnout at 8:00pm was a measly 10% in Merseyside, where they are electing a metro mayor. 

22:14: Others are asking how anyone could know how the results have panned out. Parties - particularly in marginal seats - have a wealth of information about where their voters are and you can tell throughout the day how many of your voters you've got to the polls. But the tricky bit is working out what is happening to the other team's votes, of course, which is where the mistakes come in. In 2015, Labour knew they had problems in the Labour-Tory marginals - but they didn't know what was going on in the Conservative-Liberal battlegrounds, as obviously they have very little data about what is going on in Wells, for instance. 

22:10: Some people are asking when there will be an exit poll. 

The answer is there won't be an exit poll because unlike regular polls, British exit polls aren't measuring voting intention – they don’t give us much of a sense of what the percentage of the vote will be, for instance – but change. Although there are many more Labour voters in Hackney than there are in Harrogate, for instance, for the most part, if there is a five per cent increase in the Labour vote at the expense of the Conservatives in Hackney, there will be a five per cent increase in the Labour vote at the expense of the Conservatives in Harrogate – and, more importantly, in Harlow, a marginal seat.

This is very expensive however, so broadcasters will not be shelling out for an exit poll for the local elections. 

22:08: Want to get in touch? Send your tips, questions, pictures of your cat to stephen.bushATnew statesman.co.uk

22:07: Labour fear they have lost control of Nottinghamshire County Council. If true, it would be the first time the party had lost control of the council while in opposition (they lost it towards the end of both the 1974-79 and 1997-2010 governments. 

22:04: And you worried it would be boring! Labour's shadow secretary of state for Wales has issued a statement: 

“As the polls close, I want to extend my thanks to all our fantastic Labour candidates and activists across the country.  They have been working hard for months, knocking on thousands of doors, talking to voters and spreading our message that only Welsh Labour can stand up for Wales. It always inspires me that even when times seem tough for Labour, they never fail to rise to the challenge with a passion and energy that no other party can match.  Our Welsh Labour councils and councillors have a huge amount to be proud of and whatever the results tonight they will all continue to play a crucial role in working with the Welsh Labour Government to deliver for their communities and stop the Tories walking all over Wales.”

22:00: Good evening. Polls have closed across the United Kingdom. In England, votes are picking county councillors and the new combined authority mayors. In Scotland and Wales, every local council is up for re-election. It's the first sign of how the parties are really doing and a big clue as to who will win the election on 8 June. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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LISTEN: Boris Johnson has a meltdown in car crash interview on the Queen’s Speech

“Hang on a second…errr…I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

“Hang on a second,” Boris Johnson sighed. On air, you could hear the desperate rustling of his briefing notes (probably a crumpled Waitrose receipt with “crikey” written on it) and him burbling for an answer.

Over and over again, on issues of racism, working-class inequality, educational opportunity, mental healthcare and housing, the Foreign Secretary failed to answer questions about the content of his own government’s Queen’s Speech, and how it fails to tackle “burning injustices” (in Theresa May’s words).

With each new question, he floundered more – to the extent that BBC Radio 4 PM’s presenter Eddie Mair snapped: “It’s not a Two Ronnies sketch; you can’t answer the question before last.”

But why read your soon-to-be predecessor’s Queen’s Speech when you’re busy planning your own, eh?

Your mole isn’t particularly surprised at this poor performance. Throughout the election campaign, Tory politicians – particularly cabinet secretaries – gave interview after interview riddled with gaffes.

These performances were somewhat overlooked by a political world set on humiliating shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, who has been struggling with ill health. Perhaps if commentators had less of an anti-Abbott agenda – and noticed the car crash performances the Tories were repeatedly giving and getting away with it – the election result would have been less of a surprise.

I'm a mole, innit.

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