As we close this branch of our local election live blog, let’s take a look at the final scores.
- The Greens will be very happy. At the time of writing they’ve got 208 councillors, and are up by +155. A strong local government base can be a springboard for future success, and they have four years to put these town-hall footholds to work.
- UKIP have had a miserable time. They’ve retained barely a fifth of the councillors they went into these elections with, and have been routed from former strongholds such as Thurrock. As I said below that figure may well be flattering them due to the lack of the Brexit Party (or equivalent) to sweep up disaffected voters.
- A great night for the independents… Over 1,000 ‘Other’ councillors have been returned, a more than 100 per cent increase on last time. Even in the last half-hour the Tories lost two seats to independents or localists in Surrey and Kent.
- …and the small parties. In additional to various hyper-localist outfits such as the Lincolnshire Independents, several minor parties – including the Yorkshire Party, Democrats & Veterans, the Veterans & People’s Party, and Britain First – secured their first toeholds in local government yesterday.
- The SNP win Dundee. We’re not getting normal results out of Scotland, but worth noting that the Nationalists have taken control of Dundee Council after beating Labour in a by-election.
- Green day. They’re now on 160 councillors, with a whopping net increase of +124. If the party proves as successful as the Liberal Democrats at bedding in and expanding upon local breakthroughs, this could be a real boon to the party over the next few years.
- Who-KIP? The People’s Army is seeing its ranks decimated, with Gerard Batten’s troops retaining just a fifth of the council seats they took four years ago.
- The Others. We’re now at over 700 assorted independents, localists, and minor parties, a huge increase of over 400 seats compared to last time – actually not that far behind the Liberal Democrat surge.
- Brexit Party: making its absence felt? With Nigel Farage’s new outfit not standing, there is no equivalent of the Lib Dems and Greens to capitalise on the flight of right-wing and pro-Brexit voters from the Tories and UKIP. This might both flatter the latter’s already dire seat count and explain a portion of the huge ‘Others’ total (although we have no idea how much, the surprise wins for parties such as Democrats & Veterans gives a flavour of the vote that’s out there).
- Trend holds for Greens and UKIP. The Greens have continued to put on seats, and the BBC now put them at a net gain of +62. This is almost perfectly mirrored by UKIP, who hold just 18 seats with a net score of -61. The Greens did contrive to lose one seat to the Liberal Democrats in Cambridge, where they once thought they had an outside chance of a second Westminster seat.
- Independent numbers continue to rise. They’re on +253. It doesn’t appear at the moment that the trend is concentrated against either of the major parties, but the Tories did lose a seat to the hyper-local Ashstead Independents in Mole Valley.
- Another minor party breakthrough. Regionalists this time: the Yorkshire Party have gained their first elected local government representatives.
A notable feature of the local elections has been the unusually strong performances for some minor parties, not to mention the sheer variety of them (something perhaps presaged by Newport West by-election). Here are the top lines:
- The biggest beneficiary by far are the Greens, who at the time of writing have got 48 seats, a net gain of +42. They are likely beneficiaries (along with the Liberal Democrats) of Labour’s failure to make headway.
- UKIP, by contrast, are having a torrid time of it, with the BBC reporting that at present they hold just 17 seats, a net loss of -54. They have managed to make a few pick-ups in places such as Sunderland, but have been wiped out in their former stronghold in Thurrock.
- But the biggest surge is in what the BBC classifies as ‘Others’, who currently hold 367 seats – a whopping net gain of +230. With the Tories and Labour having shed between them over 500 council seats, and the Greens and Lib Dems picking up only 350 or so, this represents a significant weakening of the national party pattern in town halls.
- Unfortunately, the ‘Others’ category can be unhelpfully imprecise at times. The bulk of the councillors in this group are either independents or ‘localists’ – representatives of hyper-local parties. In Bolton, for example, Labour lost a slew of seats to groups such as ‘Horwich and Blackrod First’ and ‘Farnworth and Kearsley First’, a result which the Bolton News reports could lead to the Tories taking control of the council for the first time in four decades. Some larger groups, such as the county-wide Lincolnshire Independents, also did well.
- But sifting through this group more finely – and thank you in particular to Election Maps UK for so doing – we also find that a perhaps surprising number of very small national parties have gained new town-hall footholds. For example, the continuity Liberal Party picked up a seat in South Kesteven (no word on Patrick O’Flynn’s continuity SDP).
- Perhaps benefiting from the weakness of UKIP, several right-wing and far-right outfits also managed to gain representation. Democrats & Veterans took two seats in Barnsley, whilst the Veterans & People’s Party and For Britain took a seat apiece in Hartlepool. It remains to be seen whether one of these can consolidate these toeholds into a proper local government base in the years ahead, but this is perhaps an early warning of what might be in store for British politics if Brexit remains unresolved.