Stephen Tall has the South Shields analysis for you here. I’m rounding up the council results.
Lib Dems win by-election with swing from Labour in Sheffield
Let’s start with some very good news. We can still get a respectable swing from Labour to us in the north. Sheffield Liberal Democrats successfully defended Fulwood ward in a by-election caused by the sad death of Cllr Janice Sidebottom in March. New Cllr Cliff Woodcraft won with a majority of 1428 (compared to 800 when the ward was contested last year). This is significant because Fulwood is in Nick Clegg’s seat. There was a significant 4.35% swing from Labour to Liberal Democrat.
Our Joe Otten has more local knowledge so I’m copying his comment here:
Apologies for my tweet overstating the Labour figure by 100 (so the majority is actually 1528) and the Tory vote by 50. But this is a great result with more Lib Dem votes than Tory, Labour and UKIP put together.
And this is the first time Labour has seriously fought this ward, probably canvassing every house, and trying to mobilise 4000 students. I was fairly confident of a win, hoped for a majority of 500+, but nothing on this scale.
This must dent any plans Labour was considering to make Sheffield Hallam a target in 2015. Unless of course they are not really trying to win in 2015, for fear of self destructing over the issue of whether to face fiscal reality or not.
Fulwood may not be typical of the north, but it is very typical of Sheffield Hallam, except that it has a large student population.
County Councils – good results in Liberal Democrat parliamentary seats
Somerset didn’t bring hoped for gains. In fact, we went down from 21 seats in 2009 to 18 now. However, the Conservatives lost 6 seats, to Labour, UKIP and Independents. Leadership Programme candidate and star of the Conference rally in March Sarah Yong just missed out in her division.
In Cheltenham, we won two seats from the Conservatives.
Across our parliamentary seats declared so far, we are ahead of the Conservatives by 2.3%. Labour scraped 11% in these southern seats. One nation party? It doesn’t look like it at the moment.
So far we are down 15 seats, according to the BBC. We lost 8 in Hampshire,one, heartbreakingly by just 7 votes to the Conservatives. We did, however, win in the Eastleigh seat, despite UKIP putting up a strong fight. The Tory vote was a miserable 17.9% there.
In Hertfordshire, we lost two seats in St Albans, but took the seat of a Conservative cabinet member in Hatfield.
I suspect we’ll be talking a lot about UKIP in our analysis later. That party is now the official opposition in Lincolnshire, having gained 16 seats. We lost 2 of our 5 seats there, but Conservatives were down a massive 24.
For us, though, if the Conservatives can’t hold us off to any great extent, what hopes do they have of a majority in 2015?
Simon Hughes on BBC Breakfast
Simon Hughes has just said on Breakfast:
South Shields has been a Labour seat always, it’s a seat where we had no presence. It’s not a great result but I’ve been around long enough to know that often government parties do terribly badly in by-elections. Labour had similarly low results in the 90s.
In all the places where we have MPs,we are doing well.
Last time when we had an election, we were not in the Government and Government parties get hammered in by-elections. What normally happens is that the opposition party gain from that. That hasn’t happened. If you look at the analysis, where there is strength on the ground we do well.
Accused of complacency by Charlie Stayt, he added:
The Labour party should be doing a lot better than it is. I don’t notice a great surge of people putting a Labour council in control in places like Somerset or Hertfordshire.
These are very difficult times for governing parties in many countries. We are far from complacent. We have fought the elections hard. I am sorry that our candidate in South Shields had a poor result, but it’s not out of step with by-elections over the years where the Liberal Democrats are not strong.
These are not just numbers
Behind every loss is a person and their campaign team. We have lost some excellent, hard-working local councillors who have made a strong contribution to their communities. While we congratulate the victors, we must also commiserate with and thank those who haven’t held on.
There are still many more results to come – 20 County Councils, and the Leaderdale and Melrose by-election in Scotland.
Catch our live blog later
We will be live blogging our way through the results later on this morning. Do come and join in the analysis.
* Caron Lindsay is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings