Mon, 15 July 2024

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Tories Suffer Tough Local Elections As Labour Cleans Up In Mayorals

Rishi Sunak (Alamy)

3 min read

The Conservatives have faced a second difficult day of local election results, after Labour took the mayoralty in the West Midlands beating Tory incumbent Andy Street, and Sadiq Khan comfortably beat Susan Hall to retain the London position.

As counting in local councils reached its conclusion, with 106 of 107 councils declared on Saturday afternoon, the Conservatives were left with only 509 seats, marking a loss of 474. Labour won 1,140 seats, marking an increase of 185. The Liberal Democrats also enjoyed a boost from Thursday's vote, winning 520 seats, with a gain of 105.

While the Conservatives managed to hold onto Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen on Saturday, averting a crucial catalyst for backbench MPs to move against Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Labour were increasinly confident of a narrow win for their candidate Richard Parker in the West Midlands on Saturday evening, after hours of counting and checks.

Labour's deputy national campaign coordinator Ellie Reeves posted on X at around 8pm congratulating Parker for his "significant victory". 

Victory for Street had been expected on Friday, but as counting progressed on Saturday, it appeared the vote was leaning towards Labour's Richard Parker.

In London Sadiq Khan secured a third term as Mayor of London, taking around 44 per cent of the vote across the city, compared to Conservative candidate Susan Hall who won 32.6 per cent. Sources close to Sadiq Khan claimed that London had rejected a negative campaign from Hall. 

Turnout in the London mayoral election was 40.5 per cent, according to figures released on Friday evening, with the highest turnout recorded in the outer London boroughs of Bexley and Bromley at 48.38 per cent. The turnout is down slightly on the last mayoral election in 2021, when it was 42 per cent. That contest had been delayed for a year due to the Covid pandemic. 

Labour also retained a number of mayoralties across northern England, with Oliver Coppard and Tracy Brabin winning their respective contests in South and West Yorkshire, while Steve Rotheram secured more than two thirds of the vote in the Liverpool City Region, and Andy Burnham was re-elected in Greater Manchester after winning more than 426,000 votes.

Speaking after his victory on Saturday afternoon, Rotheram said that “the road to Downing Street runs through transformative Labour administrations in local and regional government”. 

“With Labour in Westminster, we will get to see what real devolution is like, not the limited decentralisation we are seeing now,” he added.

Labour has held all of these mayoralties since their incumbency. 

The Liberal Democrats have come away with more seats than the Conservatives in this cycle of local elections. 

Party leader Ed Davey said that across the country Tory MPs will be “looking over their shoulder terrified of the Liberal Democrats who have won more seats than them in this election”. 

"This was the final test before the General Election and it's clear Conservative MPs are on notice,” he added. "We've moved forward in blue wall battlegrounds and we've seen a real collapse in support for Rishi Sunak and his out of touch Government.” 

Sunak is expected to avoid a rebel bid to oust him as Tory leader. While the outlook facing the Conservative party is grim, numerous Tories told PoliticsHome that rebel MPs had seemingly failed to generate sufficient momentum for a serious move to replace Sunak — despite hopes among some that a bruising set of local election results would convert other Conservative MPs to their cause. 


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