Welcome to the New Statesman local election liveblog. Press refresh for updates.
17:07: We’re wrapping up now, so in a nutshell: Labour and the Conservatives have fought to a draw. Labour done well in big cities and the Tories have done better in the countryside. Lib Dems have taken seats from everyone, and at time of writing are the biggest winners in terms of councillor numbers, up 66 seats. The Greens had disappointment in Norwich, but good holds and gains in the rest of England – they should be happy with their performance. Ukip has been wiped out almost completely, down 123 seats.
There are only 5 councils left to declare – and a couple of interesting races outstanding. Tower Hamlets will declare over the weekend, where Labour are looking to wipe out the split from Tower Hamlets First organisation. Labour have held Birmingham but full results are not yet in.
That’s it folks. This has been Dulcie and Stephen, thanks very much from us.
17:02: Haringey result is in – Labour hold 42 seats, Lib Dems 15.
16:45: The Lib Dems have won all three seats off Labour in Haringey’s Crouch End after sweeping Fortis Green.
16:43: Almost 7 in 10 people think Ukip is on the way out, according a YouGov survey conducted today. Not massively surprising given their dire performance overnight (so far down 123 councillors, only clinging on to 3).
— YouGov (@YouGov) May 4, 2018
16:32: Labour hold Birmingham. How well they’ll do overall remains to be seen – 73 of 101 seats have been declared.
16:18: George takes a look at the local elections and says we’re now in the era of ultra-hung politics. He argues the local elections were not a “bad night” for Labour, but Corbyn does need another great leap forward.
16:05: The Greens are losing ground in Norwich and 50 crocodiles have been seized at Heathrow. It’s unclear at this point whether the two are linked.
16:02: Barnet was supposed to be the “crown jewels” in Labour’s red London, but instead it has become the latest symbol of a bitter battle within the Labour party. After Labour failed to win the council, the Barnet leader blamed anti-Semitism, suggesting the area’s large Jewish community had stayed away. Julia looks at the voting patterns in one of the wards, Golders Green.
15:50: Labour’s Dan Jarvis wins the mayoral election in the Sheffield City Region – with 144,154 votes. The Conservative candidate comes in at 50,619. Turnout at a rather depressing 25%.
15:41: In Birmingham, Labour look on course for an overall majority but the Tories feel they’re doing better than they were expecting. There are 101 seats up for grabs (boundary changes have resulted in 19 fewer). Faisal Islam quotes a Labour source who expects the party to take around 56-61 of those seats. A result is expected at 18:00, but it might be earlier.
15:20: Walsall is still under no overall control, but the Tories are up five seats from 2014, and Labour down two (Ukip lost all three of its seats) – another blow as the council was a target for Momentum.
15:10: Labour have lost Stamford Hill West in Hackney – another bad result in area with a large Jewish population.
15:06: If this had been a general election what would the results have been? Of course, the numbers wizard that is Sir John Curtice has crunched the numbers. We would have: Lab on 283 (+21) seats, Con 280 (-38), Lib Dem 22 (+10), Others, 65 (+7). So another hung parliament.
15:02: Down in Heidi Allen’s patch, Liberal Democrats have taken control of South Cambridgeshire council – a gain from the Tories. It’ll add another feather in the cap to the Lib Dems, which is increasingly looking more like Big Bird than a cap. (Can someone photoshop Vince Cable onto Big Bird?)
15:00: In other political news, it’s thought Labour’s former shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander will quit as an MP this afternoon. According to the Guardian, she’s got a job lined up with Sadiq Khan in City Hall (she was his campaign manager in Khan’s mayoral selection in 2015). She’s apparently waiting for the Lewisham count before she announces it – though either way it’s a bit of a bizarre day for her to go.
14:50: BBC’s Joey D’Urso’s tweet below beautifully illustrates just how few votes it takes to change control – Wandsworth was won on 80 votes. And people say their individual votes don’t count for anything…
Wandsworth was close. If around 80 people had voted instead of in the right places, Labour would control the council.
— Joey D’Urso (@josephmdurso) May 4, 2018
14:42: The projected national vote share shows Conservatives and Labour on equal footing – not much changed other than Ukip wiped out.
#LE2018 projected national vote share:
Con: 35% (+6)
Lab: 35% (+4)
LDem: 16% (+3)
Oth [incl. UKIP]: 14% (-13)
Chgs. w/ 2014
— Britain Elects (@britainelects) May 4, 2018
14:37: Dulcie here, taking over from Nicky admirable work this morning. There are 17 councils left to declare – Conservatives just held Harrowgate.
14:22: Over on our sister site CityMetric, editor Jonn Elledge is pondering some interesting questions about the local elections. “Check this out, from Sky’s Lewis Goodall,” he says:
So far, net Labour have lost seven seats across the West Midlands overall. The Tories are up 28. Follows the trend set by the election win of Andy Street for the mayoralty. Tories seem to be strengthening their grip in this key (Brexit voting) electoral region.
— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) May 4, 2018
“This seems to be true, and it’s pretty unusual,” Jonn writes. “The trend, to over-simplify wildly, is for big urban areas to shift towards Labour. The Midlands seems to be an exception, edging gently in the other direction. It’s also more pro-Brexit than other comparable regions, despite being a very ethnically diverse region.”
“So what explains the disparity? One possibility is that there are fewer younger voters in the region, but I haven’t checked the data. Anyone?”
He’s pondering other questions too, such as mysteriously low turnout in Sheffield and why Labour’s seemingly-dismal showing in London might not be so bad after all. Check it out here.
14:07: A victory for the Liberal Democrats adds to what is already a pretty triumphant day as they take control of Three Rivers council in Hertfordshire. “Across the country this looks like a real fightback for the Liberal Democrats,” former Lib Dem cabinet member Ed Davey tells the Press Association.
13:34: Jess Phillips, the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, just told Sky News’s Adam Boulton that while it was still “a bit difficult to say this early on … I think that it seems to me that in classic working-class areas, certainly in Birmingham, there seems to be the UKIP vote going to the Tories and that is definitely affecting the Labour party in areas that should be their homeland.”
“The issue is that those votes, a lot of them, used to be Labour,” she continues, “so what the party has to do is look at where the problems have arisen and try and find out why, and what went wrong. And the Labour party, in working-class areas in the north, have some really big questions to ask themselves.”
13:17: And now, a two-for-one shot of good news for the Conservative party, as the BBC is reporting that they have wrested control of Redditch council from Labour, overturning a majority of one. They have also just scraped into control of Pendle council (formerly no overall control), for the first time since 1979, apparently after a councillor who had been suspended for making a racist joke was reinstated this morning, the BBC is reporting.
BREAKING: Conservatives take control of Pendle Council. pic.twitter.com/Plzk1FRwU4
— Mike Stevens (@_Mike_Stevens_) May 4, 2018
But it’s not all good news for Theresa May: the Tories have also just lost Mole Valley, in Surrey, which is now under no overall control, after the Liberal Democrats gained two seats there.
12:53: Some good news for Labour, just in: they’ve gained control of Kirklees council in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire (formerly under no overall control) for the first time since 1999.
— Debbie Abrahams MP (@Debbie_abrahams) May 4, 2018
And in good news for the entire country, the British National Party has just lost its last councillor, in Pendle, Lancashire.
12:45: A brief missive from Stephen Bush, who is supposed to be getting some well-earned rest right now: “Lib Dems despondent about Withington.”
12:32: Labour’s Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, has called for a “post-mortem” by Labour’s national executive committee on the areas “we’ve had a problem” in order “to really understand what happened” in yesterday’s local elections.
“There was a lot of talk of Labour taking Wandsworth … you would have expected certainly here in London to make some reasonably sizable gains, and we didn’t,” Umunna said on Sky News just now. Asked by Adam Boulton why that was, Umunna said “I’m not totally sure, but in Barnet we know that the issue of anti-Semitism in the Labour party has definitely played a role.”
He says that Labour “needs to think about its values … what’s clear is the party cannot just park this issue.”
12:21: More good news for the Liberal Democrats:
— Matt Lockwood (@Matt__Lockwood) May 4, 2018
12:13: The local election results show that Labour and the Conservatives are “trapped in a stalemate”, New Statesman political editor George Eaton writes. “On both a local and a national level, Labour is not making the gains an opposition needs to be confident of winning power. But nor are the Conservatives close to recovering their squandered majority. Until either party constructs an unbeatable electoral coalition, Britain’s strange new era of hung politics will endure.”
You can read the piece in full here.
11:56: Matt Zarb-Cousin, a former spokesperson to Jeremy Corbyn, is a man of his word. Before the election, he tweeted that “If we don’t win Barnet I’ll wear a Trump hat,” appending the hashtag #makebarnetgreatagain.
Well, Labour lost Barnet, and Zarb-Cousin has just posted a video of himself wearing the hat, which was presented to him by the blog Guido Fawkes. “I think that a lesson has been learned, really, on expectations management”, he told Fawkes. “I just don’t think you can really make these kind of bold predictions, particularly if the punishment is this, which is going to be tweeted at me forever now.”
“I’m pleased I didn’t say I would eat the hat,” he added. “In effect that is a kind of expectations management.”
11:31: Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable just went on Sky News looking very pleased with himself after an encouraging night of success for his party. “It’s very positive,” Cable says. “We set out with the objective of holding our ground … and we’ve exceeded that. “We’ve won in this borough [Richmond-upon-Thames] by a spectacular majority, and we hope to add to it in Kingston, later today … but the point I’d emphasise is, we’ve had a big breakthrough in Hull, done well in Sunderland and Liverpool against Labour. In many parts of the country, Remain or Brexit, we’re very much on the way back.”
He says that his party now has momentum, and “we will break through.” Asked if they would consider going back into a coalition with the Conservatives in a future general election, he says “no we wouldn’t,” but then hedges, saying they would ultimately act “in the national interest.”
11:22: Prime Minister Theresa May has just appeared in Wandsworth, where the Conservatives held off against an attempt by Labour to unseat them in the Conservative leader’s own constituency backyard. “Labour thought … they could take control,” she said. “This was one of their top targets and they threw everything at it. But they failed. The people of Wandsworth elected a Conservative council.” She points to successes in Hillingdon and Barnet, Basildon and Peterborough. “But we won’t take anything for granted,” she says. “We will build on this success for the future.”
11:06: Barry Rawlings, the leader of Barnet Labour party, has issued a powerful statement excoriating the national party’s anti-Semitism issues, and blaming them for their humiliating loss to the Conservatives, who took control of the council, which had been a key Labour target. “I want to speak directly to our Jewish brothers and sisters,” Rawlings says. “I am extremely grateful to all members of the Jewish community who cast votes for Labour yesterday. But too many didn’t. It wasn’t because they disagreed with our manifesto, but because they felt the Labour Party has failed to deal with anti-Semitism at a national level. They are right.”
Describing anti-Semitism as a “virus that has infected our party”, Rawlings says that “dealing with anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of hate is not an electoral issue, win or lose, it’s a moral responsibility that defines who we are.”
10:55: Counting has begun in Knowlesly, in Merseyside:
— Knowsley Council (@KnowsleyCouncil) May 4, 2018
10:48: Ken Livingston is on Sky News right now talking about Hitler, so if you had 10:40 am in your office pool then you’re the winner, congratulations to you. “Do you accept that in Barnet you may have cost the party control?” Adam Boulton asks. “People who believed that smear, yes,” Livingstone responds, referring to the story, which he calls a “smear” that he had said that “Hitler was a Zionist”.
“The best advice might be to not bring Hitler into contemporary politics,” Boulton tells him.
10:35: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has issued a statement on the local elections, saying that his party “achieved a solid set of results”. He blames the the Tories for Labour’s loss of the expectation game, saying that they “talked up our chances to unrealistic levels, especially in London”. But he concludes that “The Labour Party is now well placed to fight and win the next General Election.”
That’s quite a spin to put on what was in reality a mildly disappointing night for Labour, who in the end were unable to capitalise on the chaos in Theresa May’s ailing government. Many activists, including in Barnet, one of Labour’s key targets, where the Conservatives took control in one of the night’s highest-profile upsets, have blamed what they see as the party’s inability to deal with its anti-Semitism problem for the lacklustre showing.
10:22: Last night was, however, a big night for the Liberal Democrat party, who gained control of Richmond-upon-Thames from the Conservative party. They were helped by the fact that Vince Cable, the Lib Dem leader, lives locally and campaigned energetically, holding town halls and doorstepping voters. Gareth Roberts, the leader of the local party, told reporters at Twickenham stadium, where the count was taking place, that “Richmond is very heavily Remain, and people are thoroughly tired of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, which shows why the Tories and Labour have done so appallingly in Richmond this evening,” the Evening Standard reported.
10:10: A step back to look at the bigger picture reveals that really, apart from UKIP’s collapse, not much has changed in Britain’s political landscape today. In total so far, according to the BBC’s tracker, the Conservatives have lost three councils – Plymouth and Trafford to Labour and Richmond-upon-Thames to the Liberal Democrats – but gained control of three others: Peterborough, Basildon, and Barnet. Labour, meanwhile, have lost control of two councils – Derby, and Nuneaton and Bedworth – but gained Plymouth from the Conservatives.
09:52: It’s not all been bad news news for Labour. Failsworth West, near Oldham, has proved to be anything but nominatively deterministic for Corbyn’s party, which took the council seat there from UKIP’s Pete Davis. Angela Rayner, the Labour MP for Ashton-under-Lyne, in which Failsworth West lies, tweeted jubilantly last night: “Over the moon as my constituency is now completely Red!”, adding: “We held all other wards in my constituency. 24 out of 24 seats have Labour Cllr’s”.
Palpable sense of excitement outside Labour HQ pic.twitter.com/Q620V9ZyZR
— Oliver Wiseman (@ollywiseman) May 4, 2018
09:37: Some analysis on the debacle in Barnet from Stephen Pollard, the editor of the Jewish Chronicle:
Crucial point about Barnet is its not just Jewish Labour voters who have been disgusted by the party’s handling of its antisemites – it’s non Jews too.
— Stephen Pollard (@stephenpollard) May 4, 2018
The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg reports on Twitter that the leader of Barnet Labour party “says anti-semitism has made a difference, said he’s had Jewish labour voters in tears on the doorstep – says Barnet local party has been trying to deal with problem for 2 years, leadership has been too slow.”
09:31: Jeremy Corbyn, on Sky News, says that he is “obviously … disappointed” about the places where Labour lost ground, “but if you look at the overall picture, Labour gained seats across the whole country … we gained a lot of votes in places we never had those votes before.”
09:22: UKIP general secretary Paul Oakley, on the Today program, just compared his party – which suffered a 35 percent collapse in vote share yesterday – to a deadly disease, which is, if anything, a little on-the-nose. “Think of the Black Death in the middle ages,” he says. “It comes along and causes disruption and then goes dormant, and that’s exactly what we are going to do. Our time isn’t finished because Brexit is being betrayed.”
09:18: One place where the anti-Semitism row that engulfed the party in recent months appears to have hurt labour badly is Barnet council, where the Conservatives have just won overall control of a council which Labour appeared on track to win just a few months ago (it was under no overall control before the election). Adam Langleben, a Labour councillor for West Hendon who lost his seat, has been an outspoken critic of the way the party has handled the controversy. “Thanks to all those who voted for myself, Humayune and Agnes today. It was the greatest honour of my life to serve West Hendon,” he tweeted after the results came out. “We must NEVER have another election like this. No community group should have their vote dictated by their safety. That should shame us @UKLabour.”
08:52: Ukip’s Paul Oakley is on Radio 4 to be “duffed up” according to his tweet. He says no one expected the party do brilliantly but “if we’d had the money to campaign we’d have done a lot better”. He says people are angry about Brexit, but they “think of the black death in the Middle Ages it comes along and causes destruction and then goes dormant, that’s like Ukip”. We are now in a discussion of the benefits of Black Death (economic growth and business creation apparently) versus, y’know, all thos dead people.
08:47: Is Labour’s problem overly-revealing briefs? The feeling this morning on the airwaves seems to be that Labour has made some gains, but its communication team shouldn’t have been so quick to talk up the idea of winning Wandsworth and other wealthy, conservative London councils.
08:37: The local elections saw voter ID trials, and it seems that some voters were on the electoral register, but unable to make their mark in the box. Darren Hughes from the Electoral Reform Society tells Today the policy is “a sledgehammer to crack a nut” and that “honest voters are missing out to tackle a problem that’s just not there”. Significant numbers of voters don’t have passports or driving licences, he says. The government has called the trials a success.
You can read Stephen’s pre-election thoughts on voter ID trials here.
08:32: Here’s something intriguing from Caroline Lucas’s aide Matthew Butcher.
For geeks: over 80% of Green gains overnight were from Tories.
— Matthew Butcher (@matthew1butcher) May 4, 2018
08:28: The barney over Barnet continues. The Conservative leader has told the Press Association that although voters didn’t like allegations of anti-Semitism, they were probably equally motivated by bins, council tax and potholes.
Sounds about right. It’s the bins, stupid.
08:24: The Today programme has now moved on to the fact the Nobel Prize for Literature not happening this year. Does this tell you more about a) the relative excitement of the local election results or b) the relative softness of the Today programme?
08:20: Stephen noted earlier that the Greens went to bed with low expectations, but have a spring in their step this morning. So far, they’ve gained six councillors and co-leader Caroline Lucas has described the Greens as “one of the big four parties here”. It’s worth noting the Scottish Greens are a separate party, but arguably more influential in Scotland thanks to Holyrood’s coalition building system.
Lots of results still to come, especially in London, but it was a good night for @TheGreenParty. We’re winning in new places across England – and we’re now, without doubt, one of the big four parties here.
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) May 4, 2018
08:19: Where’s Jeremy Corbyn? In Plymouth it seems, congratulating the local party activists and telling them: “Labour is back.”
08:18: Lewis skating over the fall of Trafford (no party is now in overall control).
08:15: Chairman of the Conservative Party Brandon Lewis on the Today programme says that Labour took success for granted, whereas the Conservatives engaged with local issues. “When they were claiming the whole of London was going to turn red, at the moment they’ve not gained a single council.” He also praises Theresa May’s “strong leadership” – a reminder that if the results had been worse for the Conservative party, the PM would be looking very weak and shaky.
07:55: More on Barnet. Now it’s confirmed the Tories have taken it (before the election Labour was one seat away from taking control), there have been plenty of pundits pointing to Labour’s anti-Semitism scandal.
Barry Rawlings, leader of Barnet Labour, has been very clear the party had wanted to win and hoped they could, but the antisemitism storm has cost them. He says it’s not just about Jewish vote, but non-jewish voters also being repelled by the party’s handling of cases
— Tom Rayner (@RaynerSkyNews) May 4, 2018
If for some reason you are still confused about why some Jewish voters might not like Labour right now, you can get your reminder here.
07:46: Julia here, taking over from Stephen’s marathon night. If you’re just waking up, our political editor George Eaton has given his take on the results. He writes that they show Britain has entered a new era of “hung politics” with neither Labour nor the Tories strong enough to win a majority.
Here’s his conclusion: “Last night’s results suggest that rather being the exception, the 2017 election is the new rule. On both a local and a national level, Labour is not making the gains an opposition needs to be confident of winning power. But nor are the Conservatives close to recovering their squandered majority. Until either party constructs an unbeatable electoral coalition, Britain’s strange new era of hung politics will endure.”
Meanwhile, in Stephen and Dulcie’s Morning Call newsletter, they write that the surprise winner of the night so far are the Liberal Democrats.
07:34: Conservatives hold Kensington and Chelsea. I must admit I never got why anyone thought this was doable. The evidence that voters in that borough are indifferent to the needs of the people in Grenfell Tower is quite literally 67 metres high and is called “Grenfell Tower”.
07:29: What’s that coming over the hill? Is it a post-mortrem, is it a post-mortem? Labour are discussing a couple of things: 1) did anything actually go wrong and 2) if so, what was it?
One parliamentary candidate says it’s all too much like the EU referendum: spikes of support in some places that aren’t enough to compensate for the troughs elsewhere.
07:21: Here’s the Rallings/Thrasher projection on what this would look like at a general election. Only a projective, just a bit of fun, etc:
07:13: Good question, this.
Loving the blog. Question. If Conservatives lose too many seats to create Confidence and Supply arrangement with DUP, but Labour doesn’t gain enough seats to make a government, how will a coalition be formed by anyone?
— (((TheOldDreyfusard))) (@OldDreyfusard) May 4, 2018
This is the difficult question: my feeling is…it wouldn’t. The Liberal Democrats won’t jump into a coalition they’re not 100 per cent comfortable with again, that’s for sure.
07:12: My tired brain got the numbers wrong early: the Tories are looking at a majority of more than 10 in Barnet as of course Labour losing votes to the Tories counts for double.
07:10: It’s official in Barnet: the Tories cannot lose control – they are mathematically safe.
07:00: For those of you just joining us: I envy and hate you. I am so tired. Anyway, here’s what up:
The big two parties have had a mixed night: Labour have done well in the big cities but poorly outside of it, the Conservatives have done the reverse, with the exception of Barnet, where Labour have done badly.
The Liberal Democrats have made gains pretty much everywhere from everyone. The Greens have had a good night but a worried about the outcome in Norwich.
06:57: Theresa May will be feeling more secure in her job this morning, but as the Spectator‘s James Forsyth notes, this is double-edged: it makes it harder to scare Tory Remainers with the threat of a Corbyn premiership. Labour-held East Barnet (in, you guessed it, Barnet) is going to a recount.
06:52: Labour gain Fulwell Ward in Ilford North.
06:43: The Greens are feeling pretty cheerful having gone to bed fearing disaster and woken up to an advance. They still expect to lose seats in Norwich but are optimistic about retaining their seats in Islington and Lambeth (they have one in each).
06:40: More grim news for Labour from Barnet. The Conservatives have definitely taken two seats in Child’s Hill while the third is going to a recount. Labour could lose one in East Barnet – that means it could go from a Tory majority of one in Barnet to one of at least five.
06:38: Sorry about the radio silence – I was powdering my nose.
06:24: A question!
Loving the blog Stephen. Would be interested to hear more of a comparison between the major parties positions now and the last time they were held (2014?).
— PolitiKey (@PolitiKeyUK) May 4, 2018
So my unpopular opinion is that because Ukip are collapsing – their record in this election stands at fought 93, won two – the position of the parties as far as the number of councillors is not all that helpful. We are basically going to have accept in my view that the rise and then extreme fall of Ukip is going to make those figures for the period 2012-2019 weird, statistically speaking. Added to that, Labour under Ed Miliband had already bossed it in London so the scope for net gains was always more limited in these contests. Instead I think it’s more instructive to look at where the gains and losses are.
But because I am obliging: when these seats were fought last Ed Miliband’s Labour gained 324 seats, Nick Clegg’s Liberals lost 310 seats, and David Cameron’s Conservatives lost 236 seats. Ukip gained 164 seats. The scores on the door so far: the Liberal Democrats are up 42, Labour up 22, Conservatives up nine, Ukip down 91.
06:21: One of the assumptions that Westminster makes almost without noticing is that in the event of a hung parliament you end up with a big party and then a conviently shaped partner: the Liberal Democrats in 2010, the DUP in 2017. If results like tonight are a sign of the future we are entering a much more fractured and difficult era of coalition-making.
06:15: Over on Sky, Adam Boulton puts his finger on the problem: this result at a general election would effectively result in a parliament which could support no government at all: not enough Labour MPs to form a minority government, not enough MPs for a Tory-DUP deal, and no way to reconcile Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, whose anti-Brexit members have to sign off any deal.
06:06: Labour have retained control of Croydon Council.
06:00: Here’s where we are.
Labour have won control of Plymouth Council and are the largest party in Trafford. However, they failed to win in Swindon, and have been badly hurt by their poor performance with Jewish voters in Bury and Barnet.
Outside Barnet, they are doing well in London but have fallen short of the ridiculously high expectations that were set for Wandsworth and Westminster.
The overall Labour-Tory pattern is a rerun of the election: Labour doing badly in small towns and suburbs, but very well in big cities, Tories, quite the reverse. The Liberal Democrats and Greens are making good gains, while Ukip are dying off everywhere outside of Derby.
05:53: Labour have lost all three seats in Barnet’s Hale wards and they have lost the three West Hendon seats they held – my view: stick a fork in them, they’re done. “It’s the antisemitism, stupid,” quips one Barnet Labour activist.
05:41: I think Labour’s non-participation in the spin war in the run-up to this contest means people are missing the real story, which is not that they failed to win Wandsworth and Westminster, both contests that were always stretch targets and should never have been seen as anything other than that.
The bigger story is how they have performed across the piece. One way of analysing it – and this view will be the one that loyalists will advance over the coming days, weeks and months – is that Labour consolidated its 2017 position. Another way is that they failed to break beyond it: they are doing just badly in the seats that denied them victory – the suburbs, the small towns, and seats with large Jewish populations – as they did in 2017.
But actually in London – which is recieving a disproportionate share of the coverage – Labour did very well. They just messed up the spin war.
05:37: The Liberal Democrats have gained five seats on Merton Council – Labour retain control.
05:32: For those of you just joining us.
Labour and the Conservatives have played out a low-budget remake of the general election: Labour doing very well in the big cities, London in particular. They have gained control of Plymouth and are the largest party in Trafford. The Conservatives meanwhile have done poorly in much of the city, falling back in their flagship boroughs, but have done very well in small towns.
The Liberal Democrats have gained seats and councils across the country and are tonight’s biggest winners in terms of gains. Ukip are the biggest losers, with the exception of estate agents in Derby, which hosts the only two seats have won. They have lost a further 85.
05:30: Labour scrape home in Morley South in the Leeds.
05:20: Labour have lost Hale in Barnet – very hard for them to win control of the council now.
05:10: Barnet latest. Labour have held East Finchley in Barnet, a seat they could have slipped back in.
05:00: Here’s where we are. the Liberal Democrats are the unexpected biggest net gainers of the night. The big two parties have both made gains, with the Tories overperforming expectations and Labour undershooting them. The pattern for them is very much along the lines of the general election: Labour very strong in the cities, the Conservatives strong outside of them, neither looking able to put the other out of action decisively.
As for Ukip, they have lost all but two of the seats they have fought, both in Derby.
04:56: I spoke too soon. Labour gain Farnley and Wortley ward in Leeds from the Greens.
04:42: So much for the Greens’ tough night. So far they are holding on well and gaining seats to boot: their London mayoral candidate Sian Berry has just been re-elected in Highgate.
04:34: Conservatives hold Wandsworth.
04:31: Liberal Democrats are pleased: they’ve made seven gains from Labour in Hull, who have narrowly retained their majority on the council.
04:25: Second declaration out of Barnet: Labour hold Burnt Oak, one of their safest (and most wonderfully-named) wards in the borough.
04:17: Suzanne Evans reveals Ukip’s plan for continued relevancy: they are against HS2. The Conservatives have held Hillingdon with Labour actually going backwards.
04:13: Ukip have gained a third seat according to Suzanne Evans – also I believe in Derby. Can’t be good for house prices, that. Their record tonight: fought 85. Won three.
04:10: Excellent spot here.
Sutton results at a glance, wards arranged roughly geographically – all the Tory pick-ups in the west of the borough in Paul Scully’s constituency (in keeping with 2017 GE result). pic.twitter.com/iqwMHV4FLA
— Harry (@harryjcurtis) May 4, 2018
The Conservatives will breathe a little easier that Paul Scully isn’t quite so outnumbered in his own patch.
04:04: Full house! Labour have taken 51 out of 51 seats in Barking and Dagenham. Shame they can’t lend a few in Wandsworth, where the Tories are sounding more cheerful.
04:03: Here’s where we are. It’s a repeat of the 2017 election as far as the big two go, with Labour improving in the cities, particularly London, but shrinking outside, while the Tories are doing the reverse.
The Liberal Democrats are surprising everybody, gaining control of Richmond and retaining Sutton, Cheltenham and Eastleigh.They are the biggest winners as far as seat gains go.
Ukip have lost 83 seats and won just two, both in Derby.
04:00: Well, knock me down with a feather. The Liberal Democrats have gained three seats in Kingston-upon-Hull, taking out Alan Geraghty, who has been a Labour councillor since 1971.
03:54: It’s official: the Liberal Democrats have taken control of Richmond-upon-Thames and they are, as it stands, the biggest winners as far as seat gains go.
03:51: How’s my mood? Well I’m at the stage of the night where I sing Joy Divison’s She’s Lost Control to myself when a council – in this case Derby – goes to No Overall Control.
03:46: Liberal Democrats hold Carshalton Central in Sutton and Cheam, taking all three council seats and giving a massive boost to their hopes of holding the seat. And I’m told they could just eke out control of Winchester.
03:41: What’s going on in Kensington and Chelsea, I hear you ask? I’m told Labour are running close in ten wards – but it’s a big, big, big, big, big, BIG ask for them to win control.
03:38: Our first declaration from Barnet is in: Labour hold all three wards in Underhill.
03:33: Labour have gained all three wards in Maida Vale in Westminster and have added one in Bayswater. A good set of results but well short of where they let expectations get to.
03:31: Wandsworth could still be on you know: Labour have gained two more seats from the Conservatives, while the Tories have lost a third to an independent.
03:30: Labour gain control of Plymouth Council.
03:25: Somewhere the Liberal Democrats are not doing as well is Sutton and Cheam. They are only narrowly ahead of the Tories as far as declared council seats go.
03:20: Re my earlier point about Tory MPs believing in their small-town firewalls. There are a couple of reasons to doubt that in my view. The first is that firewalls are always breached. The second is that that firewall seems to be Leave voters. Now if Brexit is resolved by the next election, do those voters still stick with the Tories? I wouldn’t want to bet on it were I a Conservative strategist.
03:17: Labour have gained all three councillors in Ravenscourt Park (Hammersmith).
03:15: Apologies. I referreed earlier to Southport Council, which does not exist anymore. I meant a council seat in Southport, now part of Sefton Council.
03:10: Small point. This result is basically the 2017 election all over again, but with one crucial difference: the Liberal Democrats are doing rather better.
Now that’s partly because the big problem the Liberal Democrats have is not their Brexit position or their time in the coalition: it’s that people fear they are a wasted vote. That fear is a lot smaller in local elections because people tend to treat them as an opportunity to kick the boss. So you’d assume they will not do as well as they are doing tonight in a general election.
There’s an important but, though, which is say what you like about Vince Cable’s leadership, the Liberal general election campaign is not going to become a theology seminar under him.
03:06: A subdued Johnny Mercer says that the loss in Plymouth is a sign that the Conservatives need to get their act together on defence spending.
03:03: Labour have held Southampton and have gained three council seats in Iain Duncan Smith‘s Chingford seat.
03:00: Here’s where we are.
Ukip are collapsing everywhere outside of Derby, oddly enough. They have lost 77 seats and held just two, both in Derby.
That collapse is benefiting everyone but particularly the Conservatives, who are up 44 councillors overall.
Labour are up two councillors overall, and they and the Tories are trading blows, with Labour doing well in the cities and the Tories doing well outside.
The Liberal Democrats are enjoying a revival across England.
02:54: The Liberal Democrats are hoping to make gains to Labour’s expense in Hull.
02:50: The Conservatives have held Uxbridge South, which essentially ends Labour’s hopes of winning Hillingdon.
02:46: Labour have gained three seats in Wandsworth. As far as London goes, Labour are actually doing quite well, but as I wrote last week, they lost the spin war very badly – partly because they opted not to play it – which means that they are going to get a worse write-up than they deserve as far as London goes.
02:43: The leader of Derby Council, Labour held this morning but not, I think I am right in saying, any more, has lost his seat: Derby seems to be the last place Ukip can still win seats.
02:39: I am hearing bad news for Labour from Barnet. They need to make two net gains to win but they are looking shaky in West Hendon, which they hold, and they are not confident of winning Hale either.
02:37: The Liberal Democrats think they are going to win Richmond, a big, big win for that party. They are confident of holding Eastleigh.
02:34: Labour hold Oxford and Cambridge! Trafford is going no overall control.
02:32: Woah, we’re a third of the way there! Woah, John Curtice is giving Huw Edwards a hard stare!
Ahem. According to Curtice it’s all of a piece with the opinion polls, with the Labour coalition becoming more Remain-y and the Tory one more Leave-y, in much the same way as we saw in the general election.
02:30: There’s life in the Greens yet! They have taken two seats from the Tories in Trafford.
02:29: A chipper Justine Greening appears to do a little dance of joy that Wandsworth is staying blue. A less chipper Graham Brady plays a sad trombone because Trafford is not.
02:27: The BBC’s Martyn Oates report that a Labour victory in Plymouth now looks to be a virtual certainty.
02:25: Barnet looking dicey for Labour, as you’d expect given their poor results in Bury.
02:22: Jon Lansman, Momentum’s founder and chief, has got a nifty Santa outfit going on on the BBC.
02:20: Labour make their fourth gain of the night in Trafford. They are definitely the largest party and the majority may still be on.
02:19: More talk about Labour having lost seats on the BBC. I really think that’s the wrong reason to see this as a disappointing set of results for Labour – the Ukip collapse throws everything out of proportion. The bigger worry is that they don’t look on this showing to be making any in-roads beyond the places they won in in June.
02:16: Labour have got two good swings in Waltham Forest, but they aren’t what they’d need to take Wandsworth and Westminster.
02:12: Nothing good lasts forever. Ukip have held a council seat in Derby.
02:09: To no-one’s particular surprise, Sinn Fein have won the South Tyrone by-election.
02:07: Labour have won a councillor on Southport Council for the first time, confirming perhaps the shift towards that party in 2017.
02:01: Here’s where we are.
The overall pattern is a repeat of the 2017 general election: the Tories doing poorly in the great cities of England, Labour doing poorly outside of them, Ukip and the Greens getting a lot of their vote squeezed. But there are patches of good news for the Greens, who have made first-time gains in Cannock Chase and are making gains here and there in the seas of red.
The Liberal Democrats are also performing better than they did in the general election.
Fans of puerile humour and opponents of the nativist right will be delighted to learn that Ukip have lost all 69 seats they have defended so far.
01:59: Liberal Democrats very, very pleased with their gain in Hampton North in Richmond-upon-Thames, a safe Tory ward that puts them on course for a very good night in that borough.
01:56: Great balls of fire! Labour have made a big gain in Trafford – Flixton this time. Labour control of Trafford may be on.
01:53: Results, results everywhere. Labour gain Davyhulme in Trafford – it looks like the Tories will lose control there, with the council tipping towards No Overall Control.
01:49: Our first declaration out of Westminster: Tory holds across Abbey Road by big margins. Doesn’t look like Labour will be taking any more councils. Adding to Labour’s worries, the Tories have taken control of Peterborough and Dudley.
01:48: Labour’s win in Sedgeley looks like an anomaly, with the Tories bossing it in Bury’s wards with large Jewish populations. Doesn’t bode well for Labour’s hopes in Barnet.
01:42: The flipside of the “Labour can’t win in small towns” is, yes, there is some evidence that the Tory theory about their small-town-firewall is true. But I think there’s a danger in making your Plan B – and it’s a good Plan B – your only plan and it will increase the strength of the MPs who want to do that. And ultimately, it is a hell of a lot easier to say “Oh, we’ll just win Bishop Auckland” than it is to actually win Bishop Auckland.
01:40: We are going to hear a lot about small towns as a result of this. It will strengthen the sense in Tory circles that they have a firewall in small towns or “the British Rust Belt” as one Cabinet minister calls them. It will strengthen the hand of pro-Brexit forces within the Labour leadership and of Labour MPs in Leave constituencies as well.
01:34: Labour hold Bolton narrowly, the Conservatives fail to take control of Thurrock from No Overall Control.
01:31: Labour have gained Witney East in David Cameron’s old patch.
01:28: Hearing that the Conservatives will lose their majority in Trafford but that Labour are in trouble in Southampton.
01:26: Labour hold Exeter. It is hard, on this showing, to see the path to a decent parliamentary majority for either side.
01:20: Sadiq Khan is lowering expectations on the BBC. Huw Edwards asks him what it means if Labour is losing councillors. My take: ultimately the Ukip collapse means that the gains and losses are not going to tell us very much, so don’t worry about that. But what local elections do tend to tell us is the type of voter that flocks to the various parties. And the problem – so far – is that it doesn’t look like Labour are making gains with the types of voters they didn’t win over in 2017.
01:17: The Conservatives have taken control of Southend Council, from No Overall Control. (That’s when no party has a majority on the council.)
01:15: It looks as if Labour will make gains in Wandsworth and Westminster but not enough to gain control of either.
01:11: The result so far? It’s basically just the 2017 election: Labour making advances in big cities, falling back in small towns, the Conservatives falling back in big cities, but advancing in small towns. The Liberal Democrats are enjoying a mini-revival, while Ukip and the Greens are being squeezed.
01:07: The Liberal Democrats have gained Church Ward in Liverpool from Labour. Labour have lost three seats in Bolton, two to the Liberal Democrats and one to the Tories.
01:04: The Conservatives have won control of Basildon Council.
01:01: Labour have held Cannock Chase, but with fewer councillors. In a possible bad sign for Labour’s hopes in Barnet, they have lost Pilkington Park, which also has a substantial Jewish population.
00:57: Here’s where we are.
Ukip have lost every one of the 36 seats they are defending, with all of the other parties benefitting.
The Conservatives are doing very well in the towns that have so far declared and they are, as it stands, making gains compared to their 2014 performance.
Labour are down slightly on 2014 in terms of councillors, but both big parties look to be posting higher vote shares.
The Liberal Democrats are making forward strides, while the Greens have had a string of good results in Cannock Chase and across the Merseyside area.
00:53: So we have run the numbers and the story Labour can tell is that in Swindon, they “won” the contest in South Swindon, the more vulnerable of the two Swindon marginals. But the comfort the Tories will take is the idea that they have a small-town firewall beyond which this Labour coalition cannot reach.
00:50: The interesting thing about Swindon, and we are trying to work this out, is whether their big vote increase – they went up 10 points but gained just one councillor – would be more effective if repeated at a general election.
00:45: News! Labour have won Sedgeley in Bury, which has a substantial Orthodox Jewish community. But they have failed to win Swindon Council.
00:43: The Liberal Democrats are expecting to do well in Richmond, but as with Labour in Westminster they are a long way back and may not do well enough to take control. The Liberal Democrats are also hopeful about adding to their tally in Liverpool.
00:40: Whispers from Barnet: turnout is higher than expected in Childs Hill, a Labour target with a large Jewish population. Some in the local party fear there has been an anti-Labour backlash driving the increased turnout. But I’m hearing from elsewhere that Labour is doing well elsewhere in Barnet.
00:34: Again, it’s early days. But the results so far would suggest that the national polling – Tories narrowly ahead, and both the major parties’ voter bases changing quite radically – is correct.
00:29: The excellent volunteers at BritainElects (chuck them a fiver here) have crunched the numbers on Nuneaton:
Nuneaton & Bedworth, result:
Con: 51.0% (+21.1)
Lab: 35.9% (-5.6)
Grn: 9.0% (+2.5)
Oth: 1.6% (+0.8)
Ind: 1.1% (+1.0)
UKIP: 0.8% (-17.9)
Chgs. w/ 2014
— Britain Elects (@britainelects) May 3, 2018
As you can see it is not just the Ukip vote.
00:27: It’s very early but here’s a thought: if the pattern of the results so far holds up, and Labour does well in England’s great cities but poorly elsewhere, it has big implications for the internal Tory fight about how they can get a majority next time: the Bishop Auckland or Battersea question. The Battersea-ites want to try to regain their liberal graduates, the Aucklandites want to make a sweep into traditional Labour territory in small towns and ex-mining territory.
00:25: Ukip update: they have lost twelve and held none of the seats they have defended so far.
00:21: However, the flipside of that is that Nuneaton has had no VoterID pilot, is not a million miles from Swindon demographically or politically and is behaving exactly the same way.
00:17: Another reason why Swindon is worth watching is one of the five areas getting a VoterID pilot and it has the toughest regimen of the five. Labour don’t seem to be doing very well there. To repeat: we are a long way away from having enough results to make any kind of conclusions about what impact that has had but it’s worth remembering it.
00:15: The mystery of Haydock in St Helens solved?
Big local issue about building warehouses on greenbelt land explain Green performance in Haydock
— Dan Whittaker (@Tika_Dan) May 3, 2018
Have heard this from a lot of readers – which would explain that unexpected surge in support for the Greens there.
00:10: John McDonnell is doing his expectations management thing. But he may not need to: I am hearing that Labour are doing quite well in in Bury. Why does that matter? Because one reason why you’d expect Labour to struggle in Barnet is the party’s difficulties with the Jewish community. In 2016, it was Bury that gave us the first sign that Ken Livingstone’s “Hitler was a Zionist” outbursts had hurt Labour electorally among the Jewish community, so if those noises out of Bury are ture, it may be that Labour can celebrate victory in Barnet after all.
00:08: Apologies. There was some miscommunication between Dulcie and I: Labour have not lost a ward in Slough, they have lost a ward called Slough in Nuneaton.
(To our American readers: yes, it is always like this. I really am terribly sorry.)
00:06: COUNCIL CHANGE! Labour have lost their majority in Nuneaton, so it switches from Labour to No Overall Control. (Also the name of a Joy Division tribute band.)
00:03: Scores on the door.
The Conservatives and Labour have each held three councils apiece. Labour are so far down slightly – they have lost five councillors.
Longtime readers will be pleased to know that the NS office is no longer sweltering.
00:00: Here’s where we are.
Very few seats have declared. In Sunderland, Labour are having a tough time, getting frights from essentially everyone. From what I’m hearing, that is largely a local problem.
More worrying but we really are too early in the night to say anything with any confidence is Nuneaton – which, as I type, has just seen another Tory gain at Labour’s expense – and Slough, which has just seen a Tory gain. Labour’s small town problem doesn’t seem to be getting better. But it’s early so I really wouldn’t worry about it. Just let the results confirm whatever biases you have and be happy.
23:56: Another sign that Nuneaton may be part of a wider trend – Labour have held Haydock in St Helens but their vote is down a bit. But the big, big increase in the Green vote there again makes me wary of drawing broader conclusions. But keep an eye on how Labour do outside the big cities.
23:55: As I was saying re: the need for more results. Labour may well gain Basildon thanks to the Ukip collapse. Ukip so far has defended five seats and lost all five.
23:53: As is customary, I have a lot of angry emails about the Labour party. Corbynsceptic members say I am soft-soaping how bad Nuneaton is. Corbynites say I am overstating it. Look, guys, it really is just one council. It is a bad result and one without an immediately obvious local explanation ala Sunderland. But really, until we have more results from elsewhere we cannot be sure if it is local issues or national issues that are the big factor.
23:50: I am hearing that the Conservatives are going to win control in Dudley, thanks to the Ukip collapse.
23:48: Sorry, there was a bit of a lull. Liberal Democrats hopeful of holding what they have in Birmingham. The Conservatives have made another gain in Nuneaton at Labour’s expense, which I think is enough for overall control but I will get back to you.
23:39: Tory gain in Nuneaton from Labour.
23:36: Here’s the breakdown of Bede ward in Nuneaton: Lab: 46.1% (-10.6) Con: 44.2% (+25.2) UKIP: 9.7% (+9.7)
No Ukip before which is why they’ve gained votes here. Something that’s worth noting: a real sign that Labour’s difficulties outside of big cities are not going away. Just one result but not one that can be discounted in the manner of Sunderland.
23:34: The Conservatives have gained Barnes in Sunderland from Labour. My earlier statement that the council was turning some of its problems (23:13) is ageing…poorly.
23:33: Another very close shave for Labour in Sunderland, with the Tories coming very close to taking the seat. While in general elections Sunderland often tells us a great deal, I don’t think it will tell us that much. More indicative of Labour problems outside the capital are the rumblings I’m hearing that they are struggling in Swindon and Trafford. But at the moment that’s just hearsay. Regardless, I wouldn’t read much into Sunderland tonight.
23:32: Good advice here.
Could play a UKIP seat-loss drinking game but I don’t think downing 125 drinks in a night is advisable https://t.co/zyxe0rtKNA
— Paul (@bitoclass) May 3, 2018
Seriously, don’t do this. You will die.
23:31: Losses to the left, losses to the right: Ukip have lost another councillor in Basildon, this time to Labour. Labour have also held a seat in Nuneaton.
23:28: So far the balance of opinion among the Question Time audience is indeed that the House of Lords are enemies of the people and should be abolished. I’m torn: on the one hand I think it should be elected, on the other hand, I’d quite like to be a highly eccentric peer in later life.
23:26: A lot of people are asking what the hell just happened in Sunderland where the Liberal Democrat vote went up by FIFTY-SEVEN PER CENT. The answer is that basically, as I said at 23:13, the local council is in a number of difficulties, Ukip didn’t stand and that the Liberal Democrat machine is still very, very good at harvesting local discontent.
23:23: Liberal Democrats have made their first gain of the night – they have won Paillion Ward in Sunderland from Labour.
23:19: We’re halfway through Question Time. Panellists are being asked if the House of Lords are the new enemies of the state. Camila Tominey gets a cheer for being on a “four against one” on Brexit, despite the fact that David Lidington is a member of the actual government implementing the damn thing.
23:17: The first Ukip loss of the night: they have lost a councillor in Basildon to the Conservatives.
23:13: Labour have tended to do worse in local elections in Sunderland than elsewhere due to ongoing issues with that council – though I am told that they are turning that around – so I wouldn’t read anything into the small swing against Labour there one way or the other. If you are playing Question Time opinions bingo, we have had “too many people are going to university nowadays” already.
23:11: RESULTS! The lightning-fast counters of Sunderland have done it again: and Labour have won both wards declared so far.
23:06: I am getting questions about the Greens.
Given how we’ve all accepted Ukip is basically dead, surely also time we accepted Corbyn has killed the Greens? https://t.co/4C1egYiaCm
— Matt Kilcoyne (@MRJKilcoyne) May 3, 2018
It’s only a flesh wound. But seriously, I think the crucial difference is that Ukip have lost their animating purpose because we are leaving the EU (he typed, a single tear rolling down his cheek). From drugs policy to criminal justice to immigration to their founding purpose – the environment – the Greens are offering something distinct and more radical than Jeremy Corbyn: it’s clear what their purpose is even if it is less clear what market there is for that,
The greens I am interested in is in the burger. The real story of the night is whether Stephens burger was a fancy one or a more traditional cheddar, relish onion and tomato. And whether he made the rookie error of going brioche
— Tom Buckley (@bigbadbuckley) May 3, 2018
I had a very posh Honest burger with red onion, lettuce, on a brioche burger.
23:02: What does the Survation poll mean? Well, assuming it is correct, I would be worried were I a Tory councillor in Wandsworth, Barnet, Hillingdon or Westminster.
23:01: Survation have done an on-the-day poll of Croydon (not an exit poll, exit polls are measuring change not voteshare remember. This is a traditional poll). Here’s what it says:
LAB: 50% (+16)
CON: 37% (+4)
GRN: 4% (-5)
LDEM: 4% (-2)
UKIP: 2% (-13)
22:58: Award-winning novelist Linda Grant (buy her books, they’re great!) asks about turnout. I am hearing mixed things. In Norwich, I am told it is very low. It looked low for much of the day in Manchester but picked up at the end. Ultimately I am always a bit lairy about what people tell me about turnout as most people vote after work so up until close of poll turnout tends to “look low” in most places.
22:55: The Liberal Democrats are very confident about their prospects in Kingston-upon-Thames. Over on Question Time, David Lidington thinks it is premature to give Donald Trump the Nobel Peace Prize.
22:52: One of the continuities I am hearing from across the country are the words “pouring in” and “Labour activists”. The party seems to be using its post-Corbyn membership fairly effectively, but whether that will make itself felt in the ballot box is an open question.
22:50: I am hearing that the Conservatives are hoping they will take seats from the Liberal Democrats in Sutton – heard two very optimistic reports from the ground there. In the Question Time audience, the first question is stupid – “should Donald Trump win the Nobel Peace Prize?” and the answers are not much better.
22:48: Lord help me, I am watching Question Time. In the firing line: David Lidington for the Tories, Chi Onwurah for Labour, comedian Matt Forde, the Express‘ Camilla Tominey and MoneySavingExpert’s Martin Lewis.
22:44: I am hearing that the Conservatives think they will hold on in Trafford. That just a third of the seats are up for grabs there means Labour would have to have a perfect night but they would hope to at least deprive the Tories of a majority on the council.
22:42: I am hearing from essentially all the parties that the Greens are in for a very hard night.
22:40: People are asking if there will be/why there isn’t an exit poll.
The exit poll is very expensive and is paid for by all the broadcasters, and crucially isn’t measuring vote share but change. Because basically everyone in the United Kingdom votes in the same way (no, really, just go along with it, it’s crazy but it works), if the Labour vote is up five points in Hackney it is also up five points in Tory Harrogate but also crucially up five in Harlow, a marginal seat. They have to tweak it a bit to account for some regional variation but that’s how it works.
There are two reasons we don’t do it for local elections: it’s really expensive, and we’ve never done it before, and so the first one would likely be wrong as well as pricey. Instead we have sources and baseless speculation. Exciting, eh?
22:35: The BBC’s Tim Donovan is also hearing that Labour are not sounding hopeful about Barnet.
22:31: Good news! Dulcie has found out how to turn the thermostat down. Also ballot boxes have arrived at Sunderland and Newcastle, so we should get some actual results soonish.
22:30: I will also be watching and semi-liveblogging Question Time, because I am a glutton for punishment. I haven’t watched it for, ooh, at least two years – the election debates don’t count – but my memories are not fond.
22:28: People are asking how we are getting results (the BBC’s programme doesn’t start until 23:45, while Sky doesn’t start until 00:00). The answer: Dulcie has an Ouija board, and also we are listening to LBC and our network of sources around the country.
22:24: I am hearing that Barnet is on a knife-edge, per a local Conservative source. Also, I need to issue a correction per 22:20. Dulcie hasn’t eaten it yet, but said that anything with paneer in it is good. She has opened it now. More as we get it on this breaking story.
22:22: It is hotter than hell in here. I am doing the liveblog Steve Hilton style – no shoes – and have sent Dulcie to see if she can find the air conditioning and turn it on, off or down, whatever is necessary. Elsewhere, I am hearing…not a lot to be honest.
22:20: I know regular readers like to hear about our movements and eating habits. I had a burger. Dulcie had a “paneer something”. She ate it at best 40 minutes ago so I don’t know why she has already forgotten what it was. But it was good, apparently.
22:16: I am told that the Liberal Democrats have a fight on their hands to keep their remaining seat in Exeter from the Tories. Let me know what’s going on in your patch via Twitter, WhatsApp, email (stephen dot bush at new statesman dot co dot uk) etc, etc.
22:11: The first bias question of the night! They are getting earlier.
Hope you are going to give @TheGreenParty fair coverage
— KeelyBannister (@keely_bannister) May 3, 2018
I mean, ultimately, I’m not the BBC, though the resemblance is uncanny. My take is that this is likely to be a pretty grim election for the Green Party who have seen their vote gobbled up by Jeremy Corbyn pretty much everywhere.
22:06: As I said at 22:00, the brief for the Green Party tonight is “don’t get battered”. A senior source from that party tells me they are expecting a tough night – but they are hopeful of making gains in Sheffield, and could pick up one or two in Peterborough, Trafford, Cannock Chase and Exeter.
22:03: It’s a weird map this. We all basically thought that Ed Miliband had already basically done about as well as Labour could do in London but he did pretty poorly outside of it in 2014. Then Sadiq Khan did even better – though in my view that had more to do with Jeremy Corbyn than Sadiq himself – in 2016 and Labour did still better in 2017. That of course has big implications for the Conservatives’ ability to govern effectively if they can’t win in much of the capital. But ultimately Labour is clearly at or near peak gain as far as London and the other great cities of England go. So keep an eye on Swindon, Plymouth and so on rather than the capital.
22:00: Good evening. Polls have closed across England. I’m your host Stephen Bush. I and our Anthony Howard Scholar Dulcie Lee will be guiding you through the results throughout the night. Up for grabs tonight: 150 councils and six elected mayors. The big prizes are those on “all-up” elections: that is to say, the ones where every seat in an area are up for grabs. But the bulk of councils are electing on the “thirds model”, where just…you guessed it, a third of the seats are up for grabs.
This set of local elections are very much a home fixture for Labour but they don’t have very much to gain – or at least not very much that is easy to gain. In London, they are targeting Barnet, Wandsworth, Westminster and Hillingdon, all of which you would usually categorise as a stretch target. Outside of the capital they are trying to take control in Swindon, Trafford, Plymouth, Dudley. They can’t by my maths take control of North East Lincolnshire with the seats that are up tonight but they will hope to “win” a plurality of the seats up for grabs.
The Liberal Democrats meanwhile are targeting Sutton and Cheam, Richmond-upon-Thames, Kingston-upon-Thames in London, and outside of it they are looking to defend Eastleigh and the Watford mayoralty.
Ukip took 125 seats last time and they are likely to lose all of them – those that they have even managed to find a candidate to defend, that is.
For everyone else, the brief is simple: don’t get battered. The Conservatives will hope their gains from Ukip offset the losses from practically everybody else. They will also hope that outside the big cities and university towns, Labour do less well as they did in the general election. While that pattern holds they will hope that they can keep Corbyn out of Downing Street even if they can’t actually win a majority themselves.
As for the Greens, when these seats were fought Labour were led by Ed Miliband – Jeremy Corbyn has since move decisively into their space and the evidence of the general election was that he has hoovered up most of their vote as a consequence. They will do well to hang on and maybe eke out the odd gain here and there.