UK local elections and Blackpool South by-election live

The Conservatives are set to suffer large losses at today’s UK local elections. Also: turmoil in Scotland and Trump narrowly leading Biden nationally.

Live Commentary

11am Monday With all 107 councils in, Labour won 1,158 councillors (up 186), the Lib Dems 522 (up 104), the Tories 515 (down 474), independents 228 (up 93) and the Greens 181 (up 74). Councils controlled are Labour 51 (up eight), Lib Dems 12 (up two), Tories six (down ten), independents one (up one) and no overall control 37 (down one). This is the first time the Tories have finished third since 1996.

7:28am Sunday Labour’s Sadiq Khan has easily been re-elected London mayor, defeating Tory Susan Hall by 43.8-32.7 with 5.8% Lib Dems and 5.8% Greens. There was a 3.8% swing to Khan and a 2.6% swing against the Tories. On the London Assembly, Labour won 11 of the 25 seats (steady since 2021), the Tories eight (down one), the Greens three (steady), the Lib Dems two (steady) and Reform one (up one).

In a further blow for Sunak, Labour has defeated incumbent Tory mayor Andy Street in West Midlands, winning by 37.8-37.5 with 11.7% for an independent, 5.8% for Reform and 5.2% for the Greens. Labour’s vote share was down 1.9% on 2021, but the Tories were down 11.2%. Overall, Labour has won 10 of the 11 mayors contested, with the one Tory win coming in Tees Valley.

7:41pm Here’s the BBC’s live blog for today’s mayoral counts.

2:19pm With William Bowe’s permission, I’ve pinned this post to the top of the blog since Friday afternoon. But at 6pm today, William will start live coverage of the Tasmanian upper house elections, and this post will drop back to fifth. If you want to follow the remaining mayoral results, you’ll need to scroll.

11:25am After 102 of 107 councils, Labour has 1,026 councillors (up 173), the Tories 479 (down 448), the Lib Dems 505 (up 101), independents 224 (up 92) and the Greens 159 (up 65). Councils controlled are Labour 48 (up eight), Tories five (down ten), Lib Dems 12 (up two), independents one (up one) and no overall control 36 (down one). The Tories have reduced their proportional losses to a bit under half. George Galloway’s Workers Party and Reform have both won councillors (four and two respectively).

11:16am Labour won the East Midlands mayoralty last night by 40.3-28.8 over the Tories with 11.3% Greens and 10.9% Reform. That leaves seven of 11 mayors yet to declare, including the London mayoralty.

7:18am Saturday The BBC’s Projected National Share, that applies these council results to the whole country, is 34% Labour, 25% Tories, 17% Lib Dems and 24% for all Others. Compared with 2021, when these seats were last contested, Labour is up five, the Tories down 11 and the Lib Dems steady. Compared with 2023, Labour and the Tories are both down one and the Lib Dems down three. This is the Tories’ equal record low in PNS, and they were last at 25% in 2013 and 1995. The Greens account for “as much as half” of the Others’ total. This result will be a little disappointing for Labour, which would have expected a double-digit PNS margin.

11:49pm Labour wins the York and North Yorkshire mayoralty, which includes Sunak’s seat. Labour won by 35.1-27.3 over the Tories with 16.2% Lib Dems and 8.0% Greens.

11:35pm Labour wins the North East mayoralty, defeating a defector by 41.3-28.2 with 11.7% for the Tories and 9.2% for Reform. In the council results, the Tories are continuing to lose over half their existing seats.

9:40pm The Tories have held the Tees Valley mayoralty, winning by 53.6-41.3 over Labour with 5.0% Lib Dem. But after 42 of 107 councils, the Tories are continuing to lose over half the seats they are defending. Labour has 362 councillors (up 62), the Tories 131 (down 149), the Lib Dems 133 (up 24), independents 78 (up 49) and the Greens 28 (up 15). Councils controlled are Labour 22 (up four), Tories three (down three), Lib Dems five (steady) and no overall control 12 (down one).

4:43pm Curtice says the swings so far at the local elections are 10% from Tories to Labour since 2021 and 1% since 2023. If this holds up, Labour will win the BBC’s Projected National Share by a low double-digit margin. The Tories have so far lost over half the councillors they were defending. If this holds up, it will be their worst proportional loss since 1995.

2:58pm It’s now nearly 6am Friday in the UK. This guide to results in The Guardian indicates things will go quiet until later tonight AEST, then there’ll be more declarations. The London mayoralty will be declared Saturday UK time (probably after midnight Sunday AEST).

2:43pm After 33 of 107 councils, Labour has 298 councillors (up 58), the Tories 110 (down 118), the Lib Dems 100 (up 15), independents 61 (up 33) and the Greens 20 (up 12). Councils controlled are Labour 17 (up four), the Tories three (down three), the Lib Dems four (steady) and no overall control nine (down one).

2:36pm The Tories have lost six other seats at by-elections since July 2023, all on huge swings to Labour or the Lib Dems. They did manage to hold former PM Boris Johnson’s seat of Uxbridge in July 2023.

1:52pm Labour GAINS Blackpool South (the parliamentary by-election), crushing the Tories by over 40 points. The Tories barely stayed ahead of Reform for 2nd place.

12:59pm After 22 of 107 councils, Labour has 195 coucillors (up 44), the Tories 50 (down 81), the Lib Dems 55 (up six), independents 38 (up 22) and the Greens 13 (up nine). Councils controlled are Labour 13 (up three), the Tories one (down two), the Lib Dems two (steady) and no overall control six (down one).

12:48pm Blackpool South turnout 32.5%, compared with 56.8% at 2019 general election. Labour easily winning according to BBC with Tories and Reform in battle for 2nd. Also Curtice says Greens averaging 11% in wards they’ve contested and Reform 14%. In wards contested by Reform, Tories down 19% on 2021.

12:15pm Labour has GAINED Rushmoor council from the Tories. This is a historic gain as Rushmoor has never had a Labour majority, and the Tories had controlled it for the last 24 years.

11:56am After 17 of 107 councils, Labour have 116 councillors (up 24), the Tories 29 (down 53), the Lib Dems 36 (up six), independents 26 (up 17) and the Greens nine (up six). Councils controlled are Labour ten (up two), Tories one (down one), Lib Dems one (steady) and no overall control five (down one).

11:46am BBC’s live blog quotes UK election analyst John Curtice saying it’s a strong performance in early wards from far-right Reform and the Greens. There’s an 8% swing from Con to Lab since 2021, and a more modest 1% swing since 2023. Also, Labour have GAINED Thurrock council from the Tories.

11:18am The BBC’s live blog says Labour has GAINED Hartlepool council (previously no overall control). The Blackpool South by-election is expected to be declared after 12pm AEST.

11:12am Friday On the BBC’s council scoreboard, after 7 of 107 councils declared, Labour has 56 councillors (up four from the last time these wards were contested in 2021), the Tories 20 (down 18), the Lib Dems 17 (up one), independents 14 (up nine) and the Greens seven (up four).

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is a paid election analyst for The Conversation. His work for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

Polls close for UK local government elections and the parliamentary Blackpool South by-election at 7am AEST Friday. Owing to COVID, there were no elections in 2020, so the large majority of the seats up were last contested in 2021. At the 2021 local elections, the Conservatives under Boris Johnson had a big win. With national polls now showing a huge Labour lead of around 20 points, the Conservatives are virtually certain to suffer large losses.

Local elections are contested on a four-year cycle, with different wards up every year. Some years are more Conservative-leaning and others Labour-leaning. The BBC’s Projected National Share (PNS) attempts to correct for bias in the particular year. In 2021, the Conservatives won the PNS by 36-29 over Labour with 17% for the Liberal Democrats. In 2023, Labour won by 35-26 with 20% Lib Dems.

The biggest prize at these elections is the London mayoralty. Previously, mayors were elected by preferential voting, but the Conservative government regressed to first-past-the-post. Labour incumbent Sadiq Khan, who is running for a third term, has a double-digit lead over Conservative Susan Hall. These local elections will be the last before the general election, which must be held by January 2025.

There will also be a parliamentary by-election today in Conservative-held Blackpool South.  The Conservatives gained Blackpool South from Labour at the 2019 election, winning by a 49.6-38.3 margin with 6.1% for the Brexit Party.

Results for some councils and the Blackpool South by-election will come in Friday AEST, but we may need to wait until Sunday morning for the results to be complete. I expect the London mayoralty won’t be declared until Saturday AEST. I will be at gym until 11am on Friday morning. Results will be available at the BBC.

There may be an early election in Scotland after the coalition government between the Scottish National Party and Greens broke apart. At the 2021 election, the SNP won 64 of the 129 seats, one short of a majority, but one of their members has since defected to the Alba party. On Monday, Humza Yousaf quit as Scotland first minister, and there will be a leadership contest within the SNP to replace him.

US: Trump narrowly ahead nationally

The US election is on November 5. FiveThirtyEight now has polling averages. Nationally, Donald Trump leads Joe Biden by 41.6-40.8 with 10.3% for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. There were six narrow Biden-won states in 2020: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Trump currently leads in all six of these states by one-to-six-point margins. Biden’s best chance to win the Electoral College is to win Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, states where he trails by 2.6 points or less. If Biden wins these three states, he likely wins the Electoral College by 270-268.

Recent elections

The South Korean legislative election was held on April 10. Of the 300 seats, 254 were elected by FPTP and 46 by proportional representation. The centre-left Democratic Alliance won 176 of the 300 total seats (down four since 2020), the conservative People Power 108 (up two), and the left-wing Rebuilding Korea, which only contested the PR seats, won 12 seats (new). The Democratic Alliance won the FPTP seats by 162-90 on a popular vote margin of 52.3-45.7.

The most powerful office in South Korea is the president. At the 2022 presidential election, People Power candidate Yoon Suk Yeol defeated the Democrat by 48.6-47.8. While the legislative election will be seen as a repudiation of Yoon, his term does not end until 2027.

At the April 6 Slovak presidential runoff election, Peter Pellegrini, an ally of the more pro-Russia PM, won by a 53.1-46.9 margin over Ivan Korčok. Korčok had finished first at the March 23 first round, leading by 42.5-37.0.

Croatia uses PR in multi-member electorates to elect 143 of its 151 MPs, with the remaining eight reserved for minorities. At the April 17 election, the conservative HDZ won 61 seats (down six since 2020), the centre-left Rivers of Justice 42 (up two), two other right-wing alliances a combined 25 seats (up one) and the green-left 10 (up five).

67 comments on “UK local elections and Blackpool South by-election live”

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  1. Boerwarsays:
    Saturday, May 4, 2024 at 9:42 am
    ‘Ray (UK) says:
    Saturday, May 4, 2024 at 9:02 am

    Eyeballing the results I think the Muslim/Gaza situation has cost Labour dozens of seats in the north of England

    Rotherham, Sheffield, Bradford, Kirklees (Huddersfield), Calderdale (Halifax) in Yorkshire

    Oldham, Burnley, Blackburn, Rochdale in Lancashire

    I see Galloway’s Workers Party won 2 in Rochdale
    Thanks, Ray. There could be implications in seats in Australia and for Biden in the US.

    You bet.
    With Biden accusing students of violence during pro-palestinian protests and supporting crackdown on students protests, he certainly did not endear to Muslim Americans and students.
    Over 2000 students were arrested in universities across USA.

  2. With respect to the numbers of elected councilors in the 2024 election, the reported number of Greens elected was 159 (+65) and not 48 (+11) as listed in the Poll Bludger.


  3. Simonsays:
    Thursday, May 2, 2024 at 7:14 pm

    Starting to reach the point where conceptually conservative mps could be replaced by reform mps.”

    Conceptually perhaps
    However, in the local council elections Reform have won all of 2 council seats across England (out of 2,300 declared as of now). They obviously lack an organised national set up, which will hinder them. The Tories however will still whell out the geriatric army of supporters who would vote (and campaign) for a cow with a blue rosette.

  4. In terms of an anti-Labour backlash, Starmer has handled things far, far worse than Australian Labor.

    The interview answer about Israel ‘having the right’ to cut off water and power in the early days of the water was the worst gaffe of any of the western major party leaders. It meant that Starmer has been under scrutiny for his handling from the start far more than anyone who had had the sense to shut up. The absolute fiasco of Rochdale, in which one of the key Muslim figures backing attacks on Corbyn got thrown out of the party for antisemitism, and in turn causing George Galloway to return to parliament to repeatedly kick them in the shins about Gaza in those usually Labour-voting constituencies, can’t have helped.

    Starmer has tried far, far harder than Labor did here to erase any significant politics of ideological difference between Labour and the Tories and run on competence, which means that if you give people reason to hate you, ‘but the other guy is worse’ really invites an ‘are they, though?’ response.

  5. @Rebecca

    Yeah, mostly in agreement on that. But seeing Rishi Sunak’s disgusting sour-milky patronising speech last week about how sick, mentally unhealthy and disabled people need to be forced back to work made me feel that the Conservatives deserve the electoral oblivion that they’re going to get.

    If Keir Starmer decides to follow him down that route then yeah, I’ll despise him as much as the Tories.

  6. Rebecca

    Corbyn’s handling of anti-semitism in the Labour Party was sub-standard.
    His handling of national politics was even worse.
    He got caned by the voters.
    The result was five more years of a busted flush.

    In the age of vehemence, outrage and moral panic Starmer is not going to give anyone ammunition.

    He doesn’t have to. And why should he?

    The most recent elections show one thing: the outragers, moral panic merchants, loud mouthed shouters, one policy pony whippers, and sundry extremists on BOTH Left and Right have gained at the expense of the centre.

    That is the trend.

  7. BBC
    Do Lib Dem local results point to election success?

    Professor Sir John Curtice

    Professor of politics at University of Strathclyde

    Under our electoral system, when a party gains seats, it is not just a reflection of their performance, but their competitors’, too.

    The Liberal Democrat vote this time was up marginally compared to 2021. But the crucial reason why they were able to win is because the Conservative vote is down by over 11 points.

    It’s certainly true that the Lib Dem performance was better in Tory wards and they didn’t do as well in Labour areas.

    The Lib Dems have long since decided they are not trying to increase their national share of the vote, and they certainly haven’t done so according to polls or these results.

    Instead, they are betting the farm on the struggles of the Tory party in the polls being repeated at the next general election.

  8. One notable result for the GLA is the Lib Dems have won a constituency seat for the first time – off the tories

    Until now they have only ever won list seats via the two stage proportional system for the GLA.

    Tories were expecting a swing to them from Labour in the mayoral election but the reverse has happens – even in the more Tory outer London Boroughs. One London Tory MP blamed the Tory “anti Khan” rather than a “pro Tory” campaign,

  9. BBC
    While the Labour party has plenty to smile about this weekend, it will have concerns about an apparent backlash in some Muslim areas over its stance on Gaza.

    In 58 local council wards analysed by the BBC, where more than one in five residents identify as Muslim, Labour’s share of the vote was 21% down on 2021, the last time most seats were contested.

  10. ChrisC
    Adrian Beaumont: On the London Assembly, Labour won 11 of the 25 seats (steady since 2021), the Tories eight (down one), the Greens three (steady), the Lib Dems two (steady) and Reform one (up one).

    Me: So Labour did not win any extra seat and Tories are down only one.

    So the disgust against Tories did not result in Labour gains. Mainly minor parties won.
    I understand GE will be different. But I certainly doubt the gains for Labour will be spectacular as the opinion polls make out to be.

  11. Ven

    You have to remember that the GLA membership is made up of 14 directly elected first past the post in constituencies and 11 list members. This is the only elected body in England that uses this method.

    Voters have two votes – one for the constituency and one for London wide list members

    The latter are allocated based on the % of the vote for the London wide list taking into account the members and their party already elected.

    So it’s hard for a party like Labour that won the bulk of the first past the post seats (10 out of 14) to pick up a great number of the list seats unless it earns a large proportion of the list votes.

    Labour won approx 44% of the vote so in total got 44% of the seats – 11/25.

    That 44% is what Sadiq Khan also got this year.

    Despite the domination Labour has in terms of London MPs and councillors 44% of the vote is around the average it gets and has done so over several elections.

  12. Bore War scribbled, “he got caned by the voters.” So how do you explain the previous election result, where Labour got one of the biggest swings in terms of vote share since WWII? According to you Corbyn was poison. What you, like all the other right wingers neglect is that the Murdoch press ran a concerted and outrageous line of defamatory coverage of Corbyn, none of which could be supported with any anti Semitic comments from Corbyn. At first they tried to paint him as a Trot, but when that failed, he became a racist. And right wing loons such as yourself buy it and spread it because it accords with your right wing views. Second, Corbyn and Labour faced a perfect storm in the form of Brexit. Watch most of those Red Wall seats come back to Labour now that Brexit is not poison for Labour. You are pretty good at the sin of omission aren’t you? When it comes to ‘loud mouths’, you are one of the biggest, on the side of the right.

  13. Scotland Saga – SNP leadership contest looks to be a stich up with John Sweeny set to be the new First Minister come Tuesday. Kate Forbes was the obvious potential challenged but must have been offered a good position and she is only 34, so probably has a few more shots in the locker.

    John Sweeny has been around for quite awhile. He was actually leader of the SNP between 2000 and 2004 after Alex Salmond quit but the electoral performances in that time were not great and eventually Alex Salmond retook the leadership. He has been Education minister, Finance Minister and deputy first leader at times.

  14. West Midlands Mayoralty was the one of mayoralty contests the conservatives threw the kitchen sink at trying to save Andy Street. It was very close in the end but just not enough.

    If the conservatives had chosen a more moderate candidate they probably would have got far closer. Khan is not very popular but has managed to get a record 3rd term. But if you go off into crazy country, the voters are not exactly going to follow.

  15. B S Fairman

    khan got the same vote share this year as he got when he was first elected in 2016.

    As to the Tories and their campaign as I wrote earlier above Susan Hall ran a very negative campaign. The result might have been closer if she had ran a positive one.

    Issues like abolishing the ULEZ didn’t play like she thought it would – not surprising as 90% of vehicles are exempt and the most rancid opposition is from areas on the fringe of London who can’t vote in the Mayoral Election.

    The irony is that until this election Hall has been a moderate. Working cross party etc which she did when he was the leader of a council with no overall control as well as on the GLA. Going too far to the right lost her votes from the moderates without gaining a lot of very right wing voters to replace them. She needed to be more moderate as that is there the votes are.

  16. ChrisC – True. But if the Tories had gone with a moderate they might have got closer (probably not have won however).

    Scotland Saga – It looked like an SNP activist was trying to get enough signatures to cause a contest on Sunday but then after a long phone call with Sweeny, decided not to go ahead with his challenge.

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