Results overnight showed Labour gaining 470 seats, Conservatives losing 279 and the Lib Dems losing 129 seats. Labour have gained overall control of 22 councils, the Conservatives have lost 12 councils and gained 1, the Lib Dems have lost one of the four they defended overnight.
Council elections are always a bit of a silly expectations game – of the media and commentariat setting rather artificial targets for the parties, the parties themselves trying to massively downplay expectations and set their opponents impossible ones and then saying whether they have done well or badly based on them. We still have about 80 councils still to declare, but so far it looks as though Labour should get over 700 gains which should be seen as a success. Whether it will be reported as an untrammelled success or not will probably depend on what happens in London.
The Conservatives avoided big losses last year with the Lib Dems taking the brunt. This year the pain is being shared more, and the Tories are seeing much more typical mid-term losses. The BBC’s Projected National Share so far is CON 31%, LAB 39%, LDEM 16%, Others 14% – Labour are up three points since last year, the Conservatives down 4 points, the Lib Dems unchanged (the Lib Dems are doing significantly better than in national polls, but the Lib Dems typically do significantly better in local elections than national ones!)
Looking under the topline figures, the regional pattern is not much different from last year, so comparing to 2008 when the seats were last fought Labour have done much better in the North than the South (the Con to Lab swing in the South is about 10 points, in the North about 15). That said, Labour have done well in the more Labour-ish parts of the South like Southampton and Norwich. Also worth noting is how well UKIP have done. Where they stood, they got around 13% (in wards they contested last time, they were up by an average of 5%). However, because their vote was evenly spread out they have been rewarded with very few actual seats on the back of it.
Today we have the rest of the English and Welsh council, all the councils in Scotland and – of course – the London mayor results.