James Forsyth James Forsyth

Ukip surge as Labour make sluggish progress

Only one party can be happy with the local elections results so far, Ukip. Nigel Farage’s party has so far added 86 councilors to its tally and these results suggest that Sunday, when the European Election votes are counted, should be a good night for the party.

Labour’s results have been mixed to disappointing. Their best news of the night was picking up Hammersmith and Fulham off the Tories. Knocking over one of the Tories’ flagship councils will delight Labour. But Hammersmith is a region where the demographics have been running against the Tories, look at how Shaun Bailey failed to win the parliamentary seat last time.

Labour has also gained control of Merton and Cambridge City councils. But they’ve lost control of the council in the key marginal of Thurrock. They also didn’t take Swindon and Tamworth. Considering that one of Labour’s aim in these elections was to give itself a local government launch-pad for the general election, this has to be a blow.

The Tories are losing seats and councils. But the party is confident that it’ll still be the largest party in local government once all these results are counted. As in so many things, the crucial question for the Tories is whether the rise of Ukip is a temporary surge or a permanent phenomenon. If it is the former, then these results are fine for the Tories. But if it is the latter, then this split on the right could cost the party heavily.

Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats have lost a slew of councilors. But the party is busy pointing to how its vote has tended to hold up in its own seats.

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