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5 May, 2024 01:58

UK ruling party suffers crushing local election defeat

The results of Thursday’s local elections are “disappointing,” the prime minister said
UK ruling party suffers crushing local election defeat

The UK Conservative Party has suffered its worst local election defeat in decades, losing more than half of its council seats during this week’s vote in England and Wales. 

The opposition Labour party saw strong gains, including in key battlegrounds needed to secure victory at the general election, expected to be held later this year.

With almost all authorities declared as of Saturday night, the Tories had conceded 473 of their 985 councillors, while Labour had gained 185 council seats to reach a total of 1,140. 

The Liberal Democrats also made a strong showing, and now have 521 councillors, putting them ahead of the Conservatives for the first time since 1996. 

“It appears to be the worst local elections for the Conservatives since the final years of the era of Margaret Thatcher and John Major,” said Robert Hayward, a polling expert and a member of the House of Lords, as quoted by the New York Times.

Also this week, Labour politician Chris Webb won the Blackpool South by-election, beating Conservative David Jones. “This seismic win in Blackpool South is the most important result today,” Labour leader Keir Starmer told reporters, adding that the win “shows that we are firmly back in the service of working people.”

Further good news for Labour came from London, where Mayor Sadiq Khan was re-elected for a third term. “Londoners voted to give their city a fairer, safer, greener future,” Khan wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

The campaigning was centered on inflation and the cost-of-living crisis, as well local issues, such as housing and the worsening state of the NHS. 

Sunak acknowledged on Friday that it is “disappointing to lose good hardworking Conservative councillors.” He insisted that he remains “focused completely on the job at hand – that’s delivering for people across the country.”

Despite the upset, prime minister said he is hopeful that the voters “are going to stick with us” in the general election.