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8.45pm WATCH

7.15pm ToryDiary: The Conservative performance in Wales and Scotland

6pm ToryDiary: The Conservatives beat Labour yesterday in the popular vote

Cameron on shoulders4.15pm ToryDiary: Three cheers for Matthew Elliott, Campaign Manager of No2AV

2.30pm Piotr Brzezinski on Comment: Concessions for Clegg won’t save the Lib Dems

2.15pm ToryDiary: David Cameron – "I think we fought a strong campaign."

2pm Local Government: Conservatives had been predicted to make net losses of 1,000 seats

11.30am ToryDiary: Why David Cameron may be whistling the theme tune from The Great Escape

11.00 WATCH: Three takes on the local election results and AV referendum campaign so far:

10.30am ToryDiary: Alex Salmond – a lion in his own cause

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ToryDiary: Liberal Democrats were defeated because of their fundamental dishonesty in promising left-wing policies in the north and conservative policies in the south

Local Government:

Robert Halfon MP on Comment: The Ten Commandments of Twitter

WATCH:

Local election news so far: calamity for the Liberal Democrats, and progress in England but disaster in Scotland for Labour – leaving David Cameron the winner to date…

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"With results from 471 wards declared, the BBC is projecting that Labour will end the evening with a total share of the vote of 37%, the Conservatives 35% and the Lib Dems 15%.  Elections expert Professor John Curtice said this would represent the worst Lib Dem council performance since the party was formed in the late 1980s." – BBC

"The Liberal Democrats have had a disaster. Though they weren't a major player in Scotland their share of the vote has plunged. They haven't fared much better in England, losing more than 200 seats.

Labour has had a mixed result. In Scotland the results are terrible as they have ceded more than a dozen seats to the SNP. In England the news is much brighter, however – they've won more than 250 seats so far – and in Wales they look set to make minor gains on their already dominant position.

The Conservatives will be quietly delighted with their night's work. They had been forecast to lose up to 1,000 seats but so far – and it is only so far – they are actually up by six in England, and have only surrendered control of two councils. Their results in Scotland have been disappointing, but overall it's good news." – Daily Telegraph

"Labour has done well in Wales and reasonably well in England.  But, on the figures that have come in so far, they haven't matched anything like the success that Tony Blair achieved in the mid 1990s. Arguably, the Tories have done even better. Their vote seems to be holding out and at the last count – on the Press Association wire five minutes ago – they were recording a net gain of 11 seats, rather than a loss." – Andrew Sparrow, The Guardian 

…But if repeated in a general election these shares of the vote would yield a Labour majority in the Commons

"The BBC is saying that, on the basis of its current estimated national share of the vote (see 4.40am), the Lib Dems would have just 21 seats in the Commons if there were a general election now and people voted as they did yesterday. The same figures suggest Labour would have 340 Commons seats – a narrow majority – and the Conservatives 264." – The Guardian 

Key gains and losses to date

LibDems lose control of Sheffield, Hull, Stockport – but hold Eastleigh and Cambridge.
Conservatives gain Worcester and Gloucester.
Labour fails to take control of Birmingham, but wins Eastwood, Hyndburn, Lincoln, Stoke-on-Trent (where the BNP are wiped out). 

For this morning's papers, the main story is clear – the rout of Clegg

Screen shot 2011-05-06 at 07.52.21 "Nick Clegg was facing humiliation at the polls last night as voters threw out hundreds of Liberal Democrats from town halls and looked set to crush the party’s hopes of electoral reform.  On their most ruinous election night for decades, the Lib Dems were heading for a series of devastating council defeats as their vote collapsed across the country.  In the North, the party conceded heavy losses to Labour; in Scotland they were swamped by the SNP, and in parts of the South West they were squeezed by the Tories." – The Times

"The first ward result declared in Mr Clegg's Sheffield Hallam constituency saw Labour gain from Liberal Democrats in a landslide.  A Lib Dem majority of about 3,000 in last year's contests was turned into a Labour lead of more than 500.  However Mr Clegg was saved from humiliation in his home base as Lib Dems defended seats in the constituency's four other wards, giving them an overall majority in Hallam of just under 4,000." – Daily Mail 

The Liberal Democrat leader concedes "real knock"

"Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg admitted today that the Liberal Democrats had taken a "real knock" after a night of heavy election losses.  With the party also facing defeat later today in the referendum on voting reform, Mr Clegg admitted they had lessons to learn.  But he insisted that the results would not affect the Lib Dems' support for the coalition Government with their Conservative partners." – The Independent

Ashdown rages at "regiment of lies"…

"As the recriminations began over the almost certain defeat of the yes campaign over changing the voting system for MPs, Ashdown said Cameron's behaviour set him apart from every British prime minister of the postwar period.  Ashdown told the Guardian: "So far the coalition has been lubricated by a large element of goodwill and trust. It is not any longer. The consequence is that when it comes to the bonhomie of the Downing Street rose garden, that has gone. It will never again be glad confident morning." – Guardian 

…As the LibDem left steps up pressure on the party leader…

  • Screen shot 2011-05-06 at 08.13.52 "Simon Hughes accused the Tory-funded no campaign of running a "fundamentally fallacious campaign that will reduce trust between the Tories and his party". – The Guardian
  • "Activists on the left of the party are planning a crisis meeting next month, described in a newsletter as an event “for Liberal Democrats concerned about the coalition’s direction and the party’s future”.  Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, and Simon Hughes, the party president, will address the meeting, which will be hosted by the Social Liberal Forum in London on June 18." – The Times
  • "One dissident Liberal Democrat MP, Mike Hancock, urged Clegg to take a tougher stance with his coalition partners: "We have to make the price of our support a lot higher. We need to twist David Cameron's arm a lot harder." – The Guardian

…Defeated councillors start to tear into Clegg…

"As the council went to no overall control from a Conservative majority, Ken Ball said he had become so disillusioned he may quit the party.  He said: "Nick Clegg has let the party down, he's put us back 40 years.  "After these elections I hope somebody takes his place. He's been a bad PR exercise."  Labour gained five seats on Chorley Council with the Conservatives losing four and the Lib Dems losing one." – BBC 

…And a poll of party activists finds that almost half believe he's ineffective

"A survey of party activists by the Lib Dem Voice blog showed that two in five believe the Deputy Prime Minister is performing poorly.  57 per cent of Lib Dems believe said Mr Clegg is effective as leader, while 40 per cent said he was ineffective.  The balance of approval, +17 per cent, is “the lowest it has been during his time as Lib Dem leader”, according to Stephen Tall of Lib Dem Voice." – Daily Telegraph

In the meanwhile, Huhne dismisses talk of a leadership election, but lurks in the wings

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"Chris Huhne’s future bid to oust Nick Clegg could be ruined by his estranged wife’s tell-all book.  The Energy Secretary dumped wife of 26 years Vicky Pryce for his former lesbian lover last year after their affair was unmasked.  The Lib Dem cabinet minister is poised to try and step in as leader if Mr Clegg is deposed by his party.  But Miss Pryce, a respected economist, has vowed to ‘wreck’ his career after Mr Huhne announced he was leaving her for 44 year old Carina Trimingham, his one-time press officer." – Daily Mail 

Will the Coalition partners now draw up a newAgreement?

"A push for a formal midterm agreement, led by cabinet ministers Danny Alexander and Oliver Letwin, in which the two parties would agree a slate of fresh policies, is meeting resistance, both because of the tighter ideological co-operation it entails and because Lib Dems feel it suggests more of the coalition agreement is complete than is the case.  Instead, they want to focus on implementing the existing agreement and watering down Andrew Lansley's health shakeup." – The Guardian

Scotland: SNP romps to victory, Labour defeated, Lib Dems collapse – huge implications for the debate on independence

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"Alex Salmond was last night on course for a second term as First Minister as voters across Scotland turned away in large numbers from Labour and the Liberal Democrats…Elsewhere, there were widespread signs of a collapse in the LibDem vote, with Tavish Scott's party losing their deposit in the first seat of the night to be declared in Rutherglen, where the SNP vote surged by 16 per cent.  The broad picture looks set to deliver an SNP victory and a return to Bute House for Alex Salmond with an increased mandate." – Scotsman

Salmond's victory – Fraser Nelson, Coffee House

(And, since you ask, George Galloway lost.) 

Wales: Labour assembly majority is on a knife edge

"Labour hopes of an outright majority in the assembly are on a knife edge after a dramatic election so far.  During a good night, the party regained heartland Blaenau Gwent as well as the scalp of Llanelli from Plaid.  The Conservatives had a solid performance although their leader Nick Bourne is in danger of losing his regional seat.  It has been disappointing for the Lib Dems, finishing behind the BNP in a number of constituencies.  If Labour wins 31 seats it will be able to ditch Plaid Cymru, its coalition partner for the past years." – BBC Wales

Northern Ireland: count begins today – Belfast Telegraph 

And don't forget: the AV count starts at four o'clock.  The Yes Campaign briefs in advance that Britain has voted No.

"Recriminations flew on Thursday night as electoral reformers conceded defeat in their fight to change Britain’s voting system, a result that will send a chill through the coalition between the Liberal Democrats and Tories.  Campaigners for the alternative vote privately admitted they had lost a “once in a lifetime” chance for reform. Amid signs of a big No vote, one Lib Dem minister said the Yes campaign had “crashed to an alarming, disastrous end”." – Financial Times (£)

"Officials on both sides of the referendum campaign reported a low turnout. The No camp was optimistic that when the result is declared tonight, it will defeat calls for a switch to the alternative vote (AV), which could kill off any prospect of electoral reform for many years. Some figures in the Yes camp are privately resigned to a defeat by about 60 to 40 per cent. Sadiq Khan, the shadow Justice Secretary and a close ally of Ed Miliband, told Sky News early today: "I'm afraid the Yes vote is lost for a generation." – The Independent

"The focus will be on Jenny Watson, the head of the Electoral Commission, when she announces the result of the AV referendum on Friday. Counting will not start until 4pm on Friday in 440 local voting areas – English councils, Scottish parliament constituencies, Welsh assembly constituencies and a single centre for Northern Ireland – and the results will be sent to 12 regional centres.  Watson will announce the results from each region, and then the final total, from the Excel centre in east London." – The Guardian

Local election and AV referendum comment:

  • David Cameron has blown his chance to realign British politics for good – Julian Astle, Daily Telegraph
  • Lies, damned lies and AV counting machines – Philip Collins, The Times (£)
  • Real achievements that show Clegg's plight is undeserved – Mary Dejevsky, The Independent
  • Nick Clegg's pain offers new hope for centre-left harmony – Martin Kettle, The Guardian
  • Labour may have just destroyed the Union – it has nothing to celebrate – Benedict Brogan's blog

Yesterday's ConHome coverage:

Coalition and Political News in Brief

  • Air strikes on Libya will be stepped up to oust Gaddafi, says Hague – Daily Mail
  • Cameron to consider tougher anti-strike laws – Daily Telegraph
  • Confusion leaves visas going spare – Financial Times (£)
  • MP accused of hiding "own shame" behind superinjunction – The Guardian
  • Nadine Dorries won’t face charges over expenses – The Times (£)
  • Millions awarded to London biking boroughs – BBC
  • No 10 blocks plan to ban wild animals performing in circuses – The Independent

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