Local elections 2013: Summary of overnight Council results

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 Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in News.


  • paul barker 3rd May '13 - 8:36am

    The UKIP surge is confirmation that, even among the minority who vote in Local Elections, a big chunk feel safe to use to their vote to protest/send a message. It will be interesting to see how the new groups of UKIP councillors behave & whether they stay the course or resign when they find out how hard/boring it is. Since UKIP arent going to operate any sort of whip they may be very like the old “Ratepayers” groups.
    One Expert has already said that “UKIP represent the biggest threat to our political system since 1945 !” That should be in Capitals, in green. The effect in 2015 may be huge or not, past experience says not.

  • Ian Stewart 3rd May '13 - 8:43am

    The Cumbria count is this morning & expect there to be net gains.

  • I am old enough to remember the post-Orpington surge in Liberal votes in local elections, and the desperate message allegedly sent by one local party to HQ.

    ‘Have won control of (mumble) Urban District Council. What do we do now?’

    UKIP MEPs have been able to get away with chaos because the British press does not scrutinize MEPs properly. It may be harder for UKIP councillors to hide especially when budget decision have to be made. Interesting times!

  • “Labour to us in the north. Sheffield Liberal Democrats successfully defended Fulwood ward ”

    Fulwood is the poshest area of the wealthiest constituency (Clegg’s) outside of the south of England. Just thought I’d add some context to the ‘eeh by gum I know what northerners want because I represent Sheffield’ kind of thing that Clegg comes out with.

  • So, the LDs are doing well in one of the wealthiest parts of the UK (Fulwood, Sheffield) and very badly in one of the poorest (South Shields). What does that say about the voting public’s perception of who you represent?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 3rd May '13 - 9:03am

    So, Steve, how do you explain the fact that Labour voters are still switching to the Liberal Democrats?

  • “So, Steve, how do you explain the fact that Labour voters are still switching to the Liberal Democrats?”

    It’s not very clear from your article, but I assume you mean the 4.35% swing from Labour to Lib Dems is since 2012. That’s actually not too far from what the national opinion polls would suggest, but it would still represent a large swing from the Lib Dems to Labour since 2010.

  • David Wilkinson 3rd May '13 - 9:26am

    On The Sheffield result, well done to Cliff Woodcraft and Sheffield Lib Dems, but please Caron don’t get carried away with it, the point that Steve is making is very valid.
    The actual change in votes was a 1%+ for Labour and a drop for the Tories over 8% and also the Greens.
    There’s statistics and dammed statistics.

  • Caron – that maybe true in Fulwood and a few other places, but over the great majority of the UK the LibDems are losing votes to just about everyone. With Clegg as leader we will get hammered at the General Election, without him the hammering may be a little less . He needs to go – even if they do like him in Fulwood!.

  • @Caron
    How on earth do you know that Labour voters have switched to Lib Dem? Have you asked them? I can’t find a link to yesterday’s polling figures, but a quick look at 2011 and 2012 (below) reveal large swings in turn-out and share of the vote as you would expect for a single ward with different candidates with varying degrees of popularity and engagement with the electorate. One ward is not a representative sample of the north of England. It is statistically meaningless as well as being socio-economically unrepresentative of the average ward. A 4.35% ‘swing’ from Labour (actually, we don’t know it’s from Labour) in a single ward is nothing more than noise and the fact remains that. The Lib Dems won one of their own (very wealthy) wards with the Tories second and Labour third. The same as the last election there and slightly different to 2011 when Labour squeezed into second place.



  • Fulwood might not be typical of a northern seat but let’s not knock a great result. When Nick Clegg is attacked for being in Government, we can ask why he is seeing swings towards the party in his own seat – and you could bet our opponents would be making hay if it was the other way round.

  • Honestly, predicting the GE on the result of one by-election! Remember the massive headlines when the SDP won some tinpot council seat? No, I didn’t think you did. It came to nothing at the following GE. Suspect UKIP will be the same.

  • Max Wilkinson 3rd May '13 - 11:38am

    Let’s not gloss over the fact that we did so well in Cheltenham with a single nine-word sentence.

    Look at the results:

    We bashed the Tories in areas in which they were very strong until not so long ago
    We won a division comprised of two wards that suggest the Tories should have won by piles of votes
    We held on comfortably in our core areas
    One of the Tory wins was just a handful of votes in an area they should have won by about 600

    Looking at the Cotswolds, we now have three seats, including Bourton, which is certainly not our natural territory.

    Well done to all concerned.

  • Simon – Over the last couple of years we have lost many, many council seats in most areas of the UK – at least I thought so. Are you suggesting we haven’t been losing seats to Labour, SDP and tonight UKIP? Are you suggesting that in the majority of the UK the LibDem vote is holding firm?

  • re – debate over loss of votes ….

    this is from the guardian website…

    The BBC has just released some figures showing how the share of the vote has gone up in key wards. These are provisional figures, of course, because most results are not in.

    Here are the figures for wards won by the Conservatives in 2009.

    Ukip: up 21

    Labour: up 6

    Conservatives: down 10

    Lib Dems: down 12

    Here are the figures for wards won by Labour in 2009.

    Ukip: up 15

    Labour: up 13

    Conservatives: down 10

    Lib Dems: down 11

    And here are the figures for wards won by the Lib Dems in 2009.

    Ukip: up 16

    Labour: up 6

    Conservatives: down 8

    Lib Dems: down 12

  • paul barker 3rd May '13 - 12:43pm

    Re – our vote losses, applying the figures from the BBC would suggest a projected vote share of 14-16 %, much the same as we got in 2011 & 2012, suggesting that almost none of the UKIP surge has come from us.

  • Richard Shaw 3rd May '13 - 1:10pm

    It was a fantastic experience to help Cliff win in Fulwood yesterday. Weeks of slogging up and down hills, delivering, canvassing, phoning… and the action days with our MEPs, MPs and (best of all) Liberal Youth members from across the country. When we started the campaign I was shoveling snow during our canvassing sessions and when we finished I was getting sunburnt while getting out our voters!

    Some have made fairly superficial comments about the demographics of the ward, seemingly based on riding the number 120 bus round the ward. Yes, Fulwood is rather wealthy but that doesn’t make it a Labour free zone – after all, it’s home to several past and present Labour councillors and past MPs – and we took nothing for granted. Historically it’s been Tory-facing with Labour supporters voting tactically and that’s switched around in recent years. I think Labour were counting on them switching to their candidate (an unknown with no local record and whose core message was “I’m a student. Nick Clegg trebled tuition fees. Vote for me to annoy him.”) and the 4000 students in local halls to overturn the 800 or so majority from last year. But it seems they didn’t switch much and I believe we got votes from both Labour and Tory voters based on the quality of our candidate, with his strong local ties and many years of (both political and non-political) campaigning and the sheer effort put in by local and visiting campaigners. Well done everyone.

  • Helen Tedcastle 3rd May '13 - 3:18pm

    @ Steve: ” Fulwood is the poshest area of the wealthiest constituency (Clegg’s) outside of the south of England. Just thought I’d add some context to the ‘eeh by gum I know what northerners want because I represent Sheffield’ kind of thing that Clegg comes out with.”

    Well said. Clegg thinks that southerners don’t know much about the North so he can tell them he knows what it’s like in the gritty, smoke-fill atmosphere of the grim steel city – and they’ll give him credit for roughing it. Just hilarious.

  • andrew purches 4th May '13 - 9:45am

    What are the chances,may I ask,for getting a sense of proportion in this electoral sideshow that has bewitched the media and party persons everywhere? I have not calculated what the actual turnout was, inclusive of postal votes, but on the rule of thumb assumption that it was,at best,some 35% of the total electorate ( and that is probably overstating the fact), UKIP’s share of the electorate’s entitlement is little more than 8% in total. With the number of new councillors in County Hall they will of course be a pain in the neck to the existing majorities and the senior executives who will come in for a lot of noise and stick,particularly over their contracts, but from my own experience these newcomers teeth will be quickly drawn. The real problem come the next two years will be a possible independent Scotland and a possible Euro referendum. UKIP will have it in their means to really drive a spanner into the workings of our democracy.

  • Andrew Colman 4th May '13 - 1:34pm

    UKIPs advance has many reason.

    Disillusion with the current LD/Con coalition and the sluggish economy, Immigrants getting social housing in front of locals. European asbsurdities such as CAP, CFP. Europe is a total mess, thanks mostly to German intransigence.

    The answer, hold an in/out referendum no (2013) rater than 2018 or 2015

  • Cllr Steve Radford 6th May '13 - 8:59pm

    The slide in Lib Dem seats was significant – of course there will be some exceptions and good local campaigns

    However the big questions remain

    How will Lib Dems recover if they have spent this parliament voting against their key pledges on public spending, tuition fees and a referendum on EU Constitution?

    As more Lib Dems cllrs loose seats or resign (now approx 150 left) will the political balance within Lib Dem party change ?

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