England Local Elections 2021 – the highlights for Lib Dems as they come in (updated 19:40pm)

This post will be updated as results come in. We won’t be covering all results, just the highlights. Fuller coverage will be posted on Sunday or Monday when we have the final picture.

Please add your results in the comments. If you want them featured because they are a wow, email to [email protected].


It has been a good start in the north east. Ciaran Joseph Morrissey has given Labour a good drumming and stormed to victory in Sunderland Hendon :

  • Lib Dem: 42.2% (+34.8%)
  • Lab: 34.8% (-30.2%)
  • Con: 15.5% (-4.8%)
  • Green: 4.5% (-2.9%)
  • UKIP: 3.1% (+3.1).


An image says it all…


Four of nine seats gained yesterday strengthening Lib Dem control of the council.


Labour’s position seems to be weakening in the north east. There are a lot of results to come but we can cheer the Lib Dems taking four seats from Labour in Sunderland.


Labour has lost control of the council amid Green, Lib Dem and Conservative gains. The result: Labour 41 seats (-8); Lib Dem 29 (+3); Green 13 (+5); Conservatives 1 (+1). Council leader Bob Johnson lost his seat in Hillsborough to the Green Party.


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  • Little Jackie Paper 7th May '21 - 11:17am

    Sunderland is a very under reported story.


    Meanwhile, just down the Durham coast from Sunderland, in a national parliamentary by-election, the Liberal Democrat candidate got just 1% of the vote and came seventh – probably the worst result in the party’s history.

    Yet in 2004 (and 2005 General Election) the party almost won the seat.

    2004 Hartlepool by-election
    Party Candidate Votes % ±%
    Labour Iain Wright 12,752 40.7 -18.5
    Liberal Democrats Jody Dunn 10,719 34.2 +19.2
    UKIP Stephen Allison 3,193 10.2 N/A
    Conservative Jeremy Middleton 3,044 9.7 -11.1
    Respect John Bloom 572 1.8 N/A
    Green Iris Ryder 255 0.8 N/A
    National Front John Starkey 246 0.8 N/A
    Independent Peter Watson 139 0.4 N/A
    Socialist Labour Christopher Herriot 95 0.3 -2.1
    Common Good Dick Rodgers 91 0.3 N/A
    Independent Philip Berriman 90 0.3 N/A
    Monster Raving Loony Alan Hope 80 0.3 N/A
    Independent (Rainbow) Ronnie Carroll 45 0.1 N/A
    English Democrat Ed Abrams 41 0.1 N/A
    Majority 2,033 6.5 -31.7
    Turnout 31,362 45.8 -10.0
    Labour hold

    If this party is ever to be taken seriously again it needs to set up a private and thorough enquiry to find out why this was allowed to happen ; why the Leader apparently never showed up ; and how the party going to stop being an obscure minority based and run entirely in the leafy suburbs of the wealthy South East of England.

  • Barry Lofty 7th May '21 - 11:28am

    What makes it even worse, and I have absolutely no sympathy with the Labour Party, is that a government with such an abysmal record of incompetence, corruption, lieing, cronyism etc etc can win with such a large majority and many people will be celebrating it, our country is far from the place I was once so proud of, and all party’s must take some of the responsibility for that predicament.

  • John Marriott 7th May '21 - 11:46am

    I really do believe that it might be better to wait until ALL of the results are in for ALL of the elections before making a final judgement. In any case, if all you are really interested in is which Party should form the next Government, and I appreciate that this isn’t everybody’s view, then, while FPTP prevails, it’s pretty clear to me that there is room only for TWO kids on the block. One clearly is wearing a blue rosette, so how do those of us who do not agree on what colour the other should be wearing come up with a new colour? What do you get if you mix red, green and yellow together?

  • A horrible sludge colour.

  • Two lessons that might be drawn from these elections, for the Tories, that they can get away with anything, which down the line would be the wrong lesson to learn.

    And for Labour, just perhaps some of them might begin to wonder whether majority power will ever be theirs again. Which, down the line, might be a useful and productive lesson to learn.

  • Barry Lofty 7th May '21 - 12:04pm

    I am not only interested in who forms the national government but unfortunately whichever party is in power does determine how this country is perceived in the world at large and how our lives are lived, that is not to undermine hard working local councillors up and down the country.

  • Paul Barker 7th May '21 - 12:07pm

    The point about present politics is that it is utterly dominated by Covid, that gives a massive advantage to Governing Parties & makes “Third” Parties seem irrelevant.
    The Elections held yesterday tell us almost nothing about Politics after Covid.

  • Peter Martin 7th May '21 - 2:14pm

    “The Elections held yesterday tell us almost nothing about Politics after Covid.”

    The results aren’t too much out of line with what happened before anyone had ever heard the term Covid. They are nothing less than a continuing catastrophe for the centre left in the UK.

    We’d seen the demise of the left/centre left in the EU generally in the last decade or so. The 40% support for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party in the 2017 election was an indication that the UK might be bucking the trend. No longer. The demise is continuing apace here too.

    Meanwhile over the pond, Joe Biden seems to be doing what the EU left should be advocating too. ie Doing whatever it takes to get European economies back on track. It’s not quite the same thing as saying we’ll put a penny on income tax to ‘pay for’ this and another penny to ‘pay for’ that.


  • George Thomas 7th May '21 - 2:45pm

    “while FPTP prevails, it’s pretty clear to me that there is room only for TWO kids on the block. One clearly is wearing a blue rosette”

    Labour held Hartlepool last time partly due to Brexit Party capturing some of those wanting to vote for popularist, culturally regressive party. Tories are going to take some convincing to bin FPtP but my goodness it’s an important step, and what a pity Clegg did such a poor job of communicating electoral change when he had the chance.

  • Antony Watts 7th May '21 - 3:29pm

    In reality there are just three issues

    1-Tories want to continue to boost capitalism, so take any opportunity to feed piblic money to private pockets
    2-Brexit was and is a huge mistake, within UK and Europe and the World.
    3-Social justice is being trampled on

  • John Marriott 7th May '21 - 4:26pm

    @George Thomas
    There is absolutely no way the Tories will ever consider changing a voting system that continues to deliver power to the party with the largest minority. They have even suggested voting for future PCCs by FPTP! So, to put it bluntly, unless the main opposition parties come up with a deal to present a United front against the Tories, we are probably stuck with a Tory government for ever, at least until it finally runs out of steam as has happened before. Mind you, given the current and possible future state of political affairs, who knows where we are heading?

  • Paul Barker 7th May '21 - 4:50pm

    We are looking at some early results (some counts dont Start till Monday) from one set of Elections held in Very Strange times.
    Some of us are jumping to wild conclusions.
    It is true that as a result of the whole Brexit process, some parts of The UK have shifted to The Right but other parts have shifted to the Left & we knew that in 2019.
    The big New thing in these Elections is Covid.

  • John Marriott 7th May ’21 – 11:46am:
    What do you get if you mix red, green and yellow together?

    A new flag to rally ‘round…


  • Sad to see coming 4th in Swansea west, a verdant campus seat we nearly won not all that long ago. But then, as my friend said yesterday, I can’t think why I want to vote Lib Dem.

  • George Thomas 7th May '21 - 6:35pm

    “unless the main opposition parties come up with a deal to present a United front against the Tories, we are probably stuck with a Tory government for ever, at least until it finally runs out of steam as has happened before. ”

    Don’t forget that boundary changes come in so Tories position is going to be even stronger at next Westminster elections also. @John Marriott when combined with the last 11 years of austerity and sleaze, and as they’re saying in Wales*, are you indy-curious yet?

    *It appears the answer is currently no but how long can they remain the case if the UK continues its path to become a one party state.

  • David Evans 7th May '21 - 6:43pm

    George Thomas – Indeed Nick Clegg made a total mess of many things, but his failing was to appear to behave too much like a Tory in coalition (or maybe his success was he just fooled so many people in the party he was a Lib Dem before then). However it was what he did in coalition from the very start that destroyed the chances for electoral reform – the “Get Clegg” movement had an easy target in AV Referendum, from the moment he broke his pledge.

    The problem we face is that too many people at and around the top of the party still can’t accept the mess things are in, because that would mean they have to accept that they did nothing about it when they should have, and newer leading lights don’t want to upset them.

  • These are seats fought in 2016 and 2017, and before that 2011 and 2012. The results then were poor to bad. So we are stuck at base and in Wales well time to accept the end of a once radical party, as the song say “we can’t go on pretending nothings wrong”.

  • Peter Watson 7th May '21 - 7:19pm

    @David Evans “the “Get Clegg” movement had an easy target in AV Referendum, from the moment he broke his pledge”
    Indeed. It was so depressing that while leading the campaign for electoral reform (such as it was), Clegg was also the poster child for those opposed to it.

  • Okay, so Scotland looks lost to the nationalists for another 5 years and probably forever. The greens party locally has done wonders as it got involved with local people. It has done litter picks, sent nice cards to people and was overall very positive. So much that they turned a ward green from blue. It needs local teams to work hard constantly and also to be positive.

  • John Marriott 7th May '21 - 9:10pm

    In Lincolnshire the Lib Dems went from one to three County Councillors, all in the Gainsborough Constituency, where they still know how to campaign! Mind you, the Tories still ended up with 57 of the 70 seats. Labour got five but, interestingly, two Independents returned used to sit in the Labour Group a few years ago, as did one of the Tories. So, not quite all doom and gloom.

  • Results so far are not great but not a disaster either except in Wales. Local Lib Dem’s know how to get the vote out.

    Labour have done far worse than us. The need for anti-Tory parties to work together has never been clearer. Labour and the Lib Dem’s are essentially now targeting a very similar demographic.

  • Olly Craven 7th May '21 - 9:56pm

    Hi John,

    You seem to have missed that we elected a Lib Dem to Lincoln City Council for the first time since 2008. Can’t say I’ve ever noticed your input helping us out before, but since we were so successful when you sat this one out, maybe you should do that more often.

  • Barry Lofty 7th May '21 - 9:58pm

    Sorry to go on but as you may have guessed I do not have much time for the Conservative party or its present leadership but for all the condemnation of the Lib Dems, I still cannot understand the electorate voting in such large numbers for such a deplorable self serving xxx xxx bunch of xxxx. Perhaps I see life in a different perspective to others or I am but thick??

  • @ Dan “Okay, so Scotland looks lost to the nationalists for another 5 years and probably forever”.

    From the heart of the Lothians I’d like to reassure Dan that despite this ‘dire’ situation (to southern English eyes), life is still proceeding as normal, civil unrest has not broken out, the traffic lights are still working and we had a beautiful sunset.

  • Barry Lofty 7th May '21 - 10:06pm

    Obviously I am, meant to say, perhaps I am but thick!!!

  • Yes Barry, you are just thick.

  • Barry Lofty 7th May '21 - 10:12pm

    Thanks for the kind response Ambighter, just sums it up really!!

  • Sorry to be blunt Bazza but I am surprised at your hostility to a PM who stands up for ordinary patriotic Britons.

  • John Marriott 7th May '21 - 10:49pm

    @Olly Craven
    You know, nobody has EVER asked me! I was writing about the County Council and, yes, I am aware about Ms Smalley’s win. She must be something special, considering how much better she did than all the other Lib Dem candidates in Lincoln City’s delayed District Council Election as well as its County Divisions.

    My association with the Lincoln Constituency goes back to the early 1980s, when North Hykeham moved to it from the old Grantham seat, possibly before you were born. Before I first became a councillor I devoted all my energies to helping SDP/Liberal Alliance candidates Freddie Stockdale and then Peter Zentner fight the 1983 and 1987 General Elections respectively as well as a good number of City Council candidates.

    I’ve explained on several threads why I am no longer active in politics. I have not divulged the real reason for my disillusion. It has much to do with the local and regional party and the way I and my Gainsborough County Council colleagues were treated. You might ask some of the more long standing local members why this happened. We proved in North Hykeham between 1987 and 2013 how it was possible to fight, win and win again. I still have canvas returns that could have proved useful to potential candidates; but nobody has ever asked for them.

    Gainsborough seems to be finding its feet again. Sadly, considering the work some of us out in over thirty years, the same cannot be said for North Hykeham.

  • @John Marriott

    ” So, not quite all doom and gloom.”

    Shock! Horror! We must be doing well then!

    And the Guardian – not a big supporter of the Lib Dems in recent times – has “Signs of a Liberal Democrat resurgence emerged in England’s local elections” https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/may/07/lib-dems-and-greens-make-gains-in-english-local-elections

    The academic and Sky News’s political analysist Michael Thrasher set out before the election on politicalbetting.com what he thought par for the course was for the various parties given the current poll ratings in various scenarios depending how the polls translated into seats

    He concluded:
    Lib Dems 250 net losses to 70 net gains
    Labour 50 net losses to 70 net gains
    Conservatives 150 net losses to 240 net gains

    The BBC scoreboard currently has Labour on 186 losses, Tories 153 gains, Lib Dems 25 losses.

    So we are at or above par. Labour are already having a poor night. And a good night for the Tories.

    The most telling indicators tend to be the Projected National Share (PNS) of the vote for the local elections and whether the parties are making progress in their battleground seats where they could pick up parliamentary seats. Clearly on the later Labour aren’t as regards red wall seats and indeed with the Brexit Party/UKIP vote gone – they could now face further pressure on such seats which they did manage to hold on to in 2019. Some early signs – gains in Cambridgeshire that we *might* be doing well in our parliamentary battlegrounds.

  • Michael Maybridge 8th May '21 - 2:24am

    @John Marriott Having met her once or twice, and heard much more second hand, I’d agree that Clare Smalley is someone pretty impressive. Apparently inspired by her son, who, at 23, is currently an Executive Member on City of York Council (and who I played a small part in helping to get elected in 2019), she has spent the past several years in classic Liberal Democrat fashion in local campaigning and delivering (I imagine) tens of thousands of Focuses (sp?). She has chipped away at Labour’s majority in the ward until finally getting her reward this time round! Not unlike your experience ‘back in the day’, I’m guessing, John (except that I believe you had Conservatives as your opponents)?

  • John Marriott 8th May '21 - 8:27am

    @Michael Maybridge
    YES that’s EXACTLY what we did in North Hykeham back in the 1980s. It’s a pity that only Claire appears to have got the message today elsewhere in the area, other than in Gainsborough. Unfortunately, we ran out of steam, what with old age, illness and death. Just appearing as a name on a ballot paper or doing a bit at election time just won’t cut it around here at least. That Lib Dem candidates are willing to put themselves through this regular ritual humiliation is in some ways rather heroic. That was never how I or some of my former colleagues operated. We did it to win and also had a clear idea what we would do if we did.

    To win as anything other than a Tory around here (or perhaps also a Labour candidate in Lincoln) you have got to get yourself noticed, which means getting into the press and media and finding LOCAL issues to highlight, not just regurgitating conference decisions or banging on about things which many residents find alien. Mine were mainly highways and transport issues (bypasses, pelican crossings, rat runs) and low cost (I prefer that phrase to ‘affordable’) housing. We even got a new Cemetery for the town (you need to think ahead, especially at my age!) and championed an Energy from Waste plant that brought much needed road improvements and was passed with very little local opposition (unlike in Kings Lynn, for example)

    My point is that this kind of all year round activism WORKED (at least in local elections). Despite changes in communication and people’s lifestyles, it still works. “You don’t just hear from us at election time” still means something, just as promising and trying to sort out a problem, even if you have eventually to admit failure. It’s not rocket science. It just requires a bit of consistency and determination. So, why isn’t it being copied in areas where the Lib Dem writ is barely currently discernible?

  • Barry Lofty 8th May '21 - 8:47am

    Ambighter?: I am afraid we must agree to disagree, just because I don’t fall for his form of patriotism does not make me unpatriotic, but I will leave it there!!

  • John Garnsworthy 8th May '21 - 9:56am

    The latest national projected share of the results so far I’ve seen is CON 36, LAB 29, LD 18, others 17. In some ways, this feels like a rerun of the 1980s although with the centre-left now split even more following the emergence of the Nationalists in the meantime and growth in the Greens. At the time, it seemed like Conservative rule would last for ever but then there was New Labour when, at its peak, many saw little future for the Tories.

    It’s extremely difficult to see any such seismic shifts in the near to medium term but, as has been pointed out, politics has and continues to be extremely fluid.

  • John Marriott 8th May '21 - 10:38am

    @John Garnsworthy
    Before psephologists rush to print, let’s not forget that any projections or extrapolations are based on an average turnout of just above 30%. In what has been hailed as a massive victory for the Tories (or, if you prefer, a massive defeat for Labour – don’t even mention the Lib Dem’s) in the Hartlepool By Election, only around 28,000 of an electorate of around 70,000 bothered to vote. I’m not particularly proud of the fact that I was also a ‘no show’; but, for reasons I have already given; however, I would, for once, appear to be siding with the ‘silent majority’!

  • Laurence Cox 8th May '21 - 10:48am

    While everyone who has won seats this time round deserves congratulation, we need to remember that currently (10:34 Saturday) we have a net loss of 26 councillors in this year’s council elections. With just over 2,500 councillors in England and Wales, we have barely half of the numbers we had in the mid-1990s, which was followed by a more than doubling in the number of our MPs in 1997. Without building firm local foundations, and that means making sure that we hold seats we have won as well as winning new seats, we will not get back to the levels of influence we have had in the past.

  • Helen Dudden 8th May '21 - 1:49pm

    I believe it’s never too late. Spending most of my life with one disability or another, knowing, what it’s like to be treated less than fairly.
    I don’t like it, so like the present government and their cronyism and capitalist thoughts, take a deep breath, and we have another day.
    Johnson won’t last 10 year’s, he may want too, the Labour Party just don’t know which road to take, they have had enough warning. It was only recently an argument broke out in Bath.
    I see so much that’s wrong, I personally, will do my utmost to complain, although my Power Wheelchair status does not give me much street credibility, and often a tear has escaped.

  • Barry Lofty 8th May '21 - 2:04pm

    Helen Dudden: Well said and great respect for your resilience!

  • Breaking News – Strong performance by Lib Dems on Portsmouth City Council – Lib Dems likely to continue running it.

    Totals this year:
    Lib Dems 6/14 (-2), Con 5/14 (+1), Labour 2/14 (+1), Independent 1/14 (-)

    Overall total
    Lib Dems 15, Con 16, Labour 7, Portsmouth Progress People 2, Independents 2
    (PPP contains 1 former Lib Dem and 1 former Labour, Independents 1 former Con and 1 newly elected)

    While it may not look like it from a far this is a strong performance by the Lib Dems. We did particularly well in 2016 winning 8 of 14 seats – obviously enough for an overall control
    And in subsequent years:
    2018: 4
    2019: 6

    If we were to win 6 seats every cycle we would be up to 18 seats and the largest party and 1 ward short of overall control. Before 2010 we only hovered around the 20 councillor mark – gaining overall control only once in our “halcyon” years before 2010 – actually go up to 25 during a couple of the coalition years.

    This is a particularly poor result for Labour – they hold the Portsmouth South parliamentary seat. And they only won 2 wards out of the 7 in it. The Lib Dems 4 and the Tories (again in a seat they won in 2015 and came second in 2017 and 2019. So we would have “won” Portsmouth South on both the wards won and vote share. Portsmouth South is our 273rd most winnable parliamentary seat according to http://www.electionpolling.co.uk/battleground/targets/liberal-democrat

    Lib Dems biggest party, anyone?

    OK I accept that that is “a bit of fun” but it does show that we are likely to have done well this year in our former Parliamentary seats and where we retain a strong local organisation and work hard – and by heck do you have to work very, very hard in Portsmouth and politics there are very, very difficult.

  • @ Michael 1 Losing two seats (including the Deputy Leader expected to be the next Group Leader) to Labour, does not represent “a Strong performance by Lib Dems on Portsmouth City Council” in the real world, Michael.

  • @David Raw

    It actually really does – as I pointed out even in our “best” years nationally between 2000-2010 (OK – I know our best years are the turn of the *last* century for you) we were only getting about 18 out of 42 councillors – so equivalent to the 6 (in each cycle of thirds) we got this year.

    You also have to know Portsmouth – and there are only 8 wards we are competitive in – 6 of the 7 in the Portsmouth South and the two immediately above it (one of which used to be in Portsmouth South). So to win 3/4 of these – 6/8 is very good.

    Central Southsea (the deputy leader’s seat) is the minimum that Labour should be winning – and they won it in 2018 and 2019. Way back in 2002 when the new ward boundaries came in – a relatively good year for us nationally – and all 3 seats were up for election – Labour won 2 seats in the ward and Conservatives 1 and we came a very poor third (i.e. 7th, 8th and 9th). And it’s the minimum they should be winning – along with a ward that is one the 200 most deprived in the country – and the fact that they are restricted to these two in a seat they hold and the Tories in a seat they won in 2015 to 1 of the 7 wards is a very very strong performance by us and a very, very weak performance by Labour (in particular) and the Tories

    (BTW we lost one seat to Labour, and one to the Tories)

    I know that having 273 seats in Parliament will disappoint you and you won’t be happy until we get to 400 – but personally I will settle for it. Never mind Eeyore, I’ll buy you a balloon and an empty pot for your birthday ( 😉 – sorry!)

  • nvelope2003 8th May '21 - 5:15pm

    Elections are won by the party with the person regarded as the strongest leading it. Johnson is the person whether you like him or not and many people don’t care whether he tells lies or not because he gets away with all the things that they would love to get away with. Think of Disraeli, Lloyd George, Harold Wilson, Thatcher, Blair. Their opponents didn’t get far until they left office. People love Johnson and the worthy but dull Starmer etc have no chance

  • Alex Macfie 8th May '21 - 5:54pm


    “People love Johnson”

    SOME people love him. Certainly not the whole country. There is currently a cult around him, like there was (perhaps still is) around Trump. But that kind of cult following can fall away (as with Corbyn), and the cult leader can in any case be defeated by a well-organised alternative, as Trump was. “Strong” leaders are not invincible. Thatcher was deposed because she had become an electoral liability.

  • Helen Dudden 9th May '21 - 7:13am

    Alex Mcfie, we can only agree. Trump just was no longer viable.
    There is much to be done, we can recognise the failings of this government, it’s not acceptable.

  • John: “other electoral contests, where they have been overtaken by the Greens. To an extent that party has taken over the anti-establishment, radical insurgent mantle that used to be the preserve of the Liberals, later the LDs. Either the LDs will have to find a way of recapturing that niche in the political spectrum, or….”

    We need to be more radical. Look at USA. Biden is investing trillions into Infrastructure, benefits, Greening the economy and on Industry, as well as attempting health and gun reforms.

    There is nothing unusual about Liberal /Centrist Parties running governments. Presently there appears to be a trend, many of them re-elected:

    USA, Canada, France, Netherlands (2), Belgium, Luxembourg, Japan, Taiwan, S.Korea, Ireland and arguably Germany ( soon likely a Green). Liberal Social Democrats running Portugal, Sweden, Norway & Finland. I’m sure if I looked further there would be more.

    The UK’s right wing nationalism hits all the headline policies of the National Front in the 70’s: Stop Immigration, End Foreign Aid & Leave th Common Market. The UK is an outlier with more in common with Hungary. The government are virtually friendless in the world. How you put that over, I don’t know. The Daily Express would say it was somehow exceptional

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