UKIP has taken more than 140 council seats, and averaged 25% of the vote, while the Conservatives lost 335 and the Liberal Democrats lost 124. Labour failed to make any stunning gains raising more questions about its drift to the left and begging the question if not now then when?
It confirms without a doubt that UKIP has arrived on the national stage and has interesting implications for the general election for both the main parties and the Lib Dems.
The big question for the three is whether UKIP can convert this local showing into anything more solid than a protest vote when it comes to the national stage. The Tories have tried dismissing UKIP as euro sceptics from the fringes and called them “clowns” and “fruitcakes”, but its supporters and voters aren’t listening. The clowns are now taking their seats.
The Tories lost control of 10 councils, but retained 18, while Labour gained two councils and boosted its councillors by nearly 300.
Labour also won key councils seats in the south in Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Sussex, but it was not an outstanding performance by any margin.
Labour’s overall share of the vote was only 29% and it all adds to the continuing concern that Ed Miliband lacks voter appeal although efforts such as the new party political ad do help they are undermined completely by disastrous media appearances like the recent BBC World at One performance.
Add to this the fact that his personal rating remains poor and that a recent Ipsos Mori poll found that just under one in four people thinks the Labour leader is ready to hold the keys of No 10, while two thirds believe that he is not yet up to the job.
With the Tories under assault from UKIP (who are also a concern for Labour) ‘One Nation’ Labour has to do a lot better. Lib Dem blogger Mark Pack posted this earlier, ‘Labour are biggest loser to UKIP surge‘, and while I’m not entirely sure it adds up (and it does rather smack of a lack of self examination), but it does underscore potential danger from UKIP to Labour.
The Lib Dems despite being crushed in the South Shields by-election maintain that they are holding their own in their key parliamentary seats, but the fact remains they only just beat the Official Monster Raving Loony Party in a parliamentary by-election.
“The indications we’re getting so far show the Lib Dems remain strong in our held parliamentary seats, which is what matters for 2015. Our focus for 2015 is to do well where it matters most – in seats we can actually win.” In other words, the Lib Dems will be ruthless in two years’ time and circle the wagons around those seats they believe they can cling on to. The clear implication is others will be left to perish alone, according to the BBC.
Although for all the Lib Dem protestations, UKIP won its first ever seats on Hampshire County Council – including two in disgraced former MP Chris Huhne’s town of Eastleigh. And that remains a Lib Dem seat.
Talking of fringe parties the British National Party lost its only county council seat in the country. The BNP’s Paul Robinson lost his Padiham and Burnley West seat to Labour’s Marcus Johnstone.