UK local and Northern Ireland elections live

Live commentary on results from Friday. Also: a major setback for US Democrats in redistricting and commentary on the draft abortion ruling.

Results summary

In England, while the Tories got a bloody nose, Labour didn’t benefit very much. The Tories lost a net 338 councillors, but Labour gained just 22, with the Lib Dems gaining 192, the Greens 63 and the far-left Aspire 23, all in Tower Hamlets. Labour gained control of a net four councils, with the Tories down ten and Lib Dems up three.

The last time these seats were up was in 2018, when Labour had a decent year. This year the BBC’s Projected National Share (PNS), that calculates as if the whole country held council elections, gave Labour a 35-30 lead over the Tories with 19% Lib Dems. In 2018, Labour and the Tories were tied at 35% each, while at the 2021 council elections the Tories led Labour by 36-29.

In Scotland and Wales, the last council elections were in 2017, which was an utter disaster for Labour in which they lost the PNS by 38-27. Yet five weeks later, the Tories lost their majority at the 2017 general election. So Labour made many gains at the Tories’ expense in both Scotland and Wales.

Labour’s five-point win is roughly what the current UK national polls are saying. In my opinion, cost of living and inflation explain the poor result for the Tories better than Partygate.

The Northern Ireland election was historic with the Irish nationalist Sinn Fein becoming the first nationalist party to win a plurality of both votes and seats since NI assembly elections started being held in 1998. But the unaligned Alliance was easily the biggest winner, gaining nine seats.

Live Commentary

10:35am Monday Labour lost control of Croydon council, the last to declare, but the Tories didn’t gain it owing to gains for the Greens and Lib Dems. There will be a directly elected Tory mayor. That reduces Labour’s English councillor gains to just 22, while the Tories are down 338, the Lib Dems up 192 and Greens up 63.

10:33am With all 90 Northern Ireland seats declared, results are 27 Sinn Fein (steady since 2017), 25 DUP (down three), 17 Alliance (up nine), nine UUP (down one), eight SDLP (down four) and four Others (steady). An Irish party is the largest for the first time in NI assembly elections.

7:21am In England, the far-left Aspire has GAINED Tower Hamlets from Labour by a 24-19 majority, with Labour losing 23 seats. Aspire won the mayor by 55-45 over Labour. Still no council results from Croydon, where the Tories narrowly gained the mayor from Labour.

7:14am Sunday With 88 of 90 seats from Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein has 27 (steady since 2017), the DUP 24 (down three), Alliance 17 (up nine), the UUP nine (down one), the SDLP seven (down four), independents two (steady), the TUV one (steady), People before Profit one (steady) and the Greens zero (down two). So the 5.1% increase in the TUV vote to 7.6% hasn’t resulted in an increase in seats.

9:48pm Painfully slow in NI. Logging off now, and will see what happens tomorrow morning!

8:17pm With 50 of 90 seats declared in Northern Ireland, Alliance has made three gains, one from UUP and one from SDLP. Still no losses recorded for the DUP yet.

5:53pm I’m expecting more results tonight from Northern Ireland, where so far only 47 of the 90 seats have been declared. I’m also expecting the final two councils – Croydon and Tower Hamlets, both in London. The Tories GAINED the Croydon mayor from Labour, and Labour lost the Tower Hamlets mayor to a far-left party, so these are likely to reduce Labour’s England gains from the current 52.

7:53am The large losses for the Tories are explained by Labour winning the PNS by 35-30. That’s the biggest winning margin for Labour since 2012.

7:50am After 144 of 146 English councils, Labour has 2,212 councillors (up 52 since 2018), the Tories 1,041 (down 341), the Lib Dems 711 (up 191) and the Greens 113 (up 60). Labour has control of 65 councils (up five), the Tories 35 (down ten), the Lib Dems 16 (up three) and no overall control 28 (up two).

7:37am After 21 of 22 councils in Wales, Labour has 522 councillors (up 65 since 2017), Plaid Cymru 199 (down nine), the Tories 110 (down 82) and Lib Dems 69 (up 11). Labour controls eight councils (up one), Plaid four (up three), the Tories zero (down one) and no overall control nine (down one).

7:28am With all councils declared in Scotland, the SNP won 453 councillors (up 22 since 2017), Labour 282 (up 20), the Tories 214 (down 63), the Lib Dems 87 (up 20) and the Greens 35 (up 16).

7:22am Of the 34 of 90 seats so far declared, none have changed hands, but Sinn Fein should win a plurality of seats from a 7.7% point lead over the DUP.

7:18am Saturday Sinn Fein has topped the Northern Ireland first preference vote with 29.0% (up 1.1% since 2017), followed by the DUP on 21.3% (down 6.7%), the Alliance on 13.5% (up 4.5%), the Ulster Unionists (UUP) on 11.2% (down 1.7%), the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) on 9.1% (down 2.9%) and the Traditional Unionists (TUV) on 7.6% (up 5.1%). The UUP is more moderate than the DUP while the TUV is more pro-union. Alliance is unaligned, while SDLP is Irish.

11:30pm The BBC’s Projected National Share (PNS) is out. Labour won by 35-30 over the Tories with 19% Lib Dems. That five-point lead roughly matches current national polls. In 2018, the last time these English seats were contested, PNS was tied at 35-35 each. In 2021, the Tories won by a 36-29 margin.

11:20pm Some very bad political news for Labour and Keir Starmer. Durham police will reinvestigate an incident involving Starmer called “Beergate”. They originally decided not to fine him, but if he does get fined it will completely undermine Labour’s attacks on Boris Johnson over Partygate.

10:15pm After 92 of 146 English councils, it’s 1,316 Labour (up 39), 627 Tory (down 154), 310 Lib Dem (up 70) and 51 Greens (up 26). Labour has control of 42 councils (up four), the Tories 24 (down ten), the Lib Dems four (up one) and no overall control 22 (up five).

10:11pm No Northern Ireland or Wales results yet. In Scotland, it’s so far 124 SNP (up three), 77 Labour (up nine), 58 Tory (down 18), 20 Lib Dems (up seven) and 10 Greens (up six). Remember that whereas England is measured against 2018, when Labour had a decent year, Scotland is against a woeful Labour performance in 2017.

4:57pm Outside of London, it’s not looking so rosy for Labour. But all London boroughs are up for election this year, so London makes up a large proportion of total councillors up.

4:46pm Labour’s gain of Westminster could portend similar things at our federal election in wealthy inner city electorates. If you’ve played Monopoly, the most prized estates are Park Lane and Mayfair, and both are in Westminster!

4:05pm It’s been confirmed that Labour has GAINED both Westminster and Barnet from the Tories. It’s that first time the Tories have not won Westminster since its creation in 1964.

2:05pm After 61 of 146 English councils, Labour has 867 councillors (up 19), the Tories 409 (down 87), the Lib Dems 159 (up 41) and the Greens 30 (up 20). Labour has control of 27 councils (up one), the Tories 17 (down four), the Lib Dems two (up one) and no overall control 15 (up two).

1:55pm Labour GAINS Wandsworth from the Tories, who are also expected to lose control of Barnet and Westminster, all these are in London. If my recent article about how Australia’s big cities could help Labor at our federal election is correct, it would explain the Tories’ London losses. Labour is also expected to gain Southampton from the Tories.

12:25pm The Lib Dems have GAINED Kingston-upon-Hull from Labour, the first council to change parties.

11:53am When Scotland and Wales come in, Labour should make many gains as these were last contested in 2017, a horrible year for Labour. Yet five weeks after those dismal council results for Labour, the Tories lost their majority at the 2017 general election.

11:44am With 38 of 146 English councils declared, Labour has 351 councillors (down five), the Tories 199 (down 37), the Lib Dems 89 (up 22) and the Greens 17 (up 13). Still no changes in control.

11:39am We’ll only get English council results this morning and early afternoon. Scottish and Welsh councils and the Northern Ireland assembly count will start tonight AEST.

11:35am Polling expert John Curtice says that in key wards counted so far, Labour is down one from 2018, the last time these seats were contested, the Tories down three and the Lib Dems down four. Compared with 2021, Labour is up four, the Tories down six and the Lib Dems up three.

11:17am Friday Sorry about the late start; I go to gym on Friday morning. Anyway the BBC’s council scorecard has Labour on 244 councillors (down nine), the Tories on 160 (down 21), the Lib Dems 63 (up 14) and the Greens 16 (up 12). That’s with 27 of 146 councils declared. No changes in council control so far, with the Tories controlling 12, Labour 8 and 7 with no overall control.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

Polls for today’s UK local and Northern Ireland assembly elections close at 7am Friday AEST. I previewed these elections here. UK national polls currently have Labour leading the Conservatives by about six points.

In Northern Ireland the Irish nationalist Sinn Féin leads with about 26%, followed by the Democratic Unionists on 19%, the unaligned Alliance on 16% and the Ulster Unionists on 13%. NI has 18 five-member electorates for a total 90 seats elected by the Hare-Clark system.

The Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton resigned last week after being caught watching porn in parliament, so by-elections will be needed in T&H and Wakefield, where the Conservative MP resigned after being convicted of child sexual assault. While Wakefield was Labour-held from 1932 to 2019, T&H has been Conservative since its creation in 1997. The Conservatives won it in 2019 by 60.2-19.5 over Labour with 14.8% Liberal Democrats.

US: New York state courts reject Democratic gerrymander

In New York Democrats control the governor and legislature. They had gerrymandered NY’s 26 Congressional Districts in an attempt to obtain a 22-4 Democratic split. But NY’s highest court rejected this gerrymander, even though all judges were appointed by Democratic governors. A remedial map must be drawn by May 20 with the assistance of a neutral expert. Democrats will lose seats from their gerrymander.

With a Republican gerrymander approved in Florida (subject to court challenges), and the NY Democratic gerrymander rejected, Democrats are down to a net seven-seat gain on the FiveThirtyEight tracker, with Republicans up one and competitive down seven.

On Monday, Politico revealed a draft majority decision of the US Supreme Court to strike down federal abortion rights, so that each state would set their own abortion rules. This shows the importance of Donald Trump choosing three Supreme Court judges to make the Court 6-3 right, including the right-wing replacement for left-wing icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg after Ginsburg’s death shortly before the 2020 election.

Joe Biden’s ratings in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate are currently 52.5% disapprove, 42.3% approve (net -10.2). The US economy surprisingly contracted 1.4% in the March quarter annualised (0.35% in Australia’s quarter on quarter terms).

Left wins in Slovenia

At the April 24 Slovenian election, a newly formed green party won 41 of the 90 seats, defeating a right-wing populist government. The Greens can reach the 46 required for a majority with one of two other left-wing parties. Several parties’ vote shares were below the 4% threshold needed to win seats.

138 comments on “UK local and Northern Ireland elections live”

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  1. One more WTF result I hadn’t seen from Scotland

    Labour gain West Dunbartonshire from No Overall Control

    Labour have won 12 of 22 seats on the council .. under Proportional Representation no less

  2. Funniest BBC clip – the TUV guy, Allister saying devolution doesn’t work for the unionists anymore.

    What to do? Stay out – not very democratic, accept being second to SF – not very palatable and you end up being accused of being a sell-out by some more extreme unionists.

    What if SF and the Alliance have a simple majority? They could endorse the Protocol in this term too – with or without an Executive.

    When they write the herstory this election will definitely be seen as the beginning of the end for partition.

  3. Lars

    The TUV is a party opposed to the Good Friday Agreement. So the position of Jim Allister is not surprising at all and is nothing new. The DUP were never going back in, win or lose, over the protocol. But with the more than five percent jump for the TUV, and most of that vote likely coming straight from the DUP, the DUP will now harden its position further to try and get some of that vote back. Under the GFA there can be no Stormont without both of the two biggest parties from each community, so there’ll be no Stormont. I’m hearing another election in six months is quite possible. Also, I don’t think that Unionism is going to be taking kindly to any lectures about the need to go in and respect democracy, considering Sinn Fein collapsed Stormont for more than three years during the last term.

  4. Matt31 – the problem is this – basically the unionists could block any change they didn’t like, they’ve always had an effective veto, most famously as wielded by the Rev Dr Paisley.

    Its pretty clear the nationalists have about 40% of the vote (as do the unionists). The rise of the Alliance party and secularism in general means that the existing system is breaking down.

    Sure the unionists refuse to establish an executive? What then? Most likely I think there will have to be some overhaul of Stormont procedures and rules – perhaps joint chief ministers, maybe a change to procedures to recognise the rise of the Alliance and secularism.

    Importantly the British government didn’t put the Protocol in the Queens Speech to parliment. Unfortunately for the Unionists the tide is running out. Their true self-interest is in entrenching the NI Assembly in a United Ireland framework. I think Peter Robinson basically foresaw this – but its questionable whether they will enlightened enough to realise it.

  5. Two unrelated points:
    The polls underpredicted the SF vote by 3% – is the now a “Shy Shinner” effect among the “respectable” SDLP folk?

    The mandatory coalition was agreed to in both Sunningdale and GFA to ensure power sharing and protect the Nationalist community against the excesses of Stormont.
    Alliance argue that this is no longer relevant and optional coalitions are appropriate. After today’s election Alliance would be the king maker – who would they choose as coalition partners (they would have to finally make a stand)?

  6. I see that the Workers’ Party still fields candidates in NI. I assume this is “Official” Sinn Féin. They got a few hundred primaries in some seats

  7. Now that most of the election’s wrapped up it looks very much like Labour… had a very mediocre result? And most of their gains either came from Wales, led by Corbyn ally Mark Drakeford, and London and Scotland, where no path to victory at the general election exists? Meanwhile Lib Dems and Greens made much bigger gains, especially for minor parties, and Sinn Fein are now in control of Northern Ireland.

    Pretty obvious now that the Blairite nostalgia project has been a complete electoral fizzer, if this is the best they can achieve in what has to be the absolute worst political environment for the Conservatives in decades. The Conservatives have more than two years for the polls to turn back in their favour. Labour’s vote is as soft as a downy pillow. Without an electoral pact Starmer will never be PM.

  8. Some observations and questions…
    Looking at the two voting sheets currently available on the offical website, for the two Antrim constituencies where five have been elected…

    Not sure what Oakeshott Country meant earlier by SF being preference averse. Their preferences seem to be mostly distributed if their candidate is either elected or eliminated. I presume those not counted are because they would have gone to candidates either already elected or excluded – is that not the case? Not sure how many voters have to actually number for a valid vote?

    Ulster Unionist preferences seem to have a lot of leakage, rather like there is with the Tasmanian elections.

    One or more than one (e.g. 5) candidates may be eliminated at any point, so it can be hard to see whose preferences went where at those points.

    An elected candidates ‘excess’ votes are not necessarily distributed just after they are elected. The excess can just remain on their total, with the next step being to remove one or more candidates instead. I suppose it depends on whether the maths indicate that a distribution at that point would actually affect the final outcome?

  9. Fairly sure its optional preferential

    Averse as in not picking up preferences from other parties
    Often they get less than 50% of SDLP and PBP preferences – who you would think are ideologically close.
    The pick up from alliance is less than 20% and virtually zero from the Unionist parties

    There is little leakage from Aontú but it is yet to achieve its full potential as a party (sarcasm)

  10. OC re polls

    Interesting observation. You could maybe argue that there was a late move to Sinn Fein from the SDLP to help ensure a nationalist FM. Polls also appear to have underestimated the TUV, which may be an issue with having difficulty with getting response from working class loyalist areas, or perhaps underestimating turnout in those areas.

    I think people talking border poll in five years, as I’m already hearing from Sinn Fein, are getting very, very carried away. It’s one thing topping an election with a 29 percent primary vote, quite another achieving 50 percent plus in a border poll. For starters, it still appears the overall unionist vote is slightly ahead of the overall nationalist vote. Pretty sure I have seen poling suggesting no rush for a united Ireland from Alliance voters. All this before a campaign around the practicalities, an end to access to the NHS, etc etc. I think if nationalism rushes to a border poll, they might get an unpleasant surprise with a comfortable loss. Part of me hopes they try it on.

  11. Lars

    Did it need an update when Sinn Fein collapsed the last assembly for over three years? It is this kind of thinking that is leading to unionism demanding a harder line from their representatives. Already the entire process is on life support due to Brexit and the protocol, and there is a very real possibility that unionism/loyalism withdraws its support completely; I’m not just talking their representatives, but the actual communities.

  12. Matt 31
    Totally agree
    I think there is a conundrum and parallel with the Australian republic. A border poll has no chance without a workable model but there is unlikely to be any official discussion on models until there is a consensus that unification is inevitable. This will not happen while the nationalist parties are getting less than 40% of the poll.

    For what it is worth my feeling is that only a loose federation (possibly with Andorran style co-princes) has any hope – the North can have its form of NHS and all the other good things it wants to keep and also be part of the EU, all under the person who Southerners call Charles the Turd.

    If the Good Friday Agreement was Sunningdale for slow learners, unification will be the Fourth Home Rule Bill for the specially gifted.

  13. Although to be honest Matt31, the sticking point for an executive after the last election was having Foster as the FM while the heating investigation was underway.

    DUP would not have SF pick its leader (quite rightly) but then they quickly knifed her when it suited their purposes anyway

  14. I wouldn’t make too much of the Tories wining the Croydon mayor post.

    The council is in effect bankrupt and the government sent in commissioners into oversee it.

    So he’ll have to make lots of unpalatable cuts to services to balance the budget so it’s a bit of a poisoned chalice.

    And he’ll still have to work with a body of councillors with a likely Labour majority as UK mayors don’t have unfettered powers.

  15. Adrian I just spotted that you wrote this at 5.53

    ‘The Tories GAINED the Croydon mayor from Labour’

    The Tories didn’t gain anything from Labour because this is a totally new post.

  16. Tower Hamlets update

    As I predicted may happen, Aspire 36.95% and Labour 36.53% in the ward elections and they have split the seats 24 Aspire and 19 Labour .. 1 Green and 1 Tory also elected

    Aspire take Majority control and Labour lose the council

    Compared to 2018 that’s Lab -23 seats and Aspire +24 seats

    This is the Whitechapel, Bethnal Green, Bow, Stepney, Poplar, Shadwell and Wapping area of the East End

    As for Croydon ward results not yet being declared this is from the Croydon Council website:

    ‘Due to the results of the mayoral count being announced later than expected, the count for the local elections will start at 6pm on Saturday 7 May and continue on Sunday 8 May at 1pm. The results of the election will be published here when announced’

  17. Croydon is a marginal area, in the last 2 elections Labour have edged the Tories by 2.4% and 4.4% across the borough and won 41 councillors to 29 for the Tories in 2018 on the 4.4% lead

    In the Mayoral election the Tory won by 2.1% on first preferences, I’d expect them to win control of the council if that’s repeated in the ward elections

  18. 88 places decided in NI, 2 to be decided in Foyle constituency.
    It looks to me as if they will go to SDLP and DUP.
    That would make the totals:
    SF – 27
    DUP – 25
    AP – 17
    UUP – 9
    SDLP – 8
    Others – 4

  19. Jim Allister remains the sole TUV MLA. They were unable to convert increased votes to seats (despite PR) but most votes have transferred and propped up DUP

  20. So basically 3 traditions in NI now Nationalist, Unionist and Other- Apni

    Well done Sir Jeffrey!

  21. Purely hypothetical:
    If a mandatory coalition can’t be formed, is it time for GFA to be modified for optional coalitions and if so who would Alliance choose as partners?
    While it is tempting to think that such a move would force APNI to declare their intentions on the National Destiny, I am sure they would say that that question is not on the table when forming a coalition.

  22. Dropping the mandatory coalition seems a sensible step for NI.

    The numbers suggest you wouldn’t get an exclusively unionist or nationalist executive anymore.

    The APNI might end up like the German Free Democrats – in every government.

  23. The BBC/Guardian must have turned their updates off – 10 wards have been declared on the Croydon council website. Elected so far:

    Lab 22 – no change
    Con 6 – no change

    The Labour majorities have fallen quite a bit but Tories not necessarily picking up that much, maybe Labour hang on to control after all

    Interestingly, the new Tory Mayor has also been elected as a councillor – he is disqualified however as the Mayor cannot be a councillor so a by-election is already pending

  24. Red Wall – South and West Yorkshire – 2022 v. 2021

    Red Wall – Dudley, Sandwell (West Bromwich), Walsall & Wolverhampton 2022 v. 2021

  25. Communities
    The minors are 1 TUV, 1 PBPA and 2 Unionist Independents

    Nationalist = 35
    Unionist = 37
    Other = 18

  26. *Final result*

    Labour lose Croydon Council to No Overall Control

    Lab 34, -7
    Con 33, +4 …… includes newly elected Mayor, disqualified as ineligible (from ultra safe Tory ward)
    Grn 2, +2
    LDem 1, +1

    It came down to the last ward where the Greens came from nowhere to snatch 2 Labour seats

    That will be interesting, the only workable council needs Lib Dem and/or Green votes – they won’t like being on the hook for unpopular budget decisions in the cash-strapped council 🙂 . Them 2 Green councillors may be hoping they hadn’t done as well

    There was a very marked turnout differential in each sides safe wards, if Labour had had got maybe 5% more of it’s vote out in it’s wards it would have won the Mayorship

  27. There are a surprising number of councils that operate quite effectively despite having minority administrations.

    It’s not like losing a vote means new elections.

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