The local elections results open thread

The polls have closed, so where are we?


Elections have been held for 128 councils. In most cases one third of the seats were being contested. Altogether 6706 seats were up for election, of which 1170 were held by Liberal Democrats.

Ten English cities have been holding referendums on whether to have a directly elected mayor. They are Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wakefield.

Doncaster was voting on whether to abolish its directly elected mayor.

Three cities – London, Salford and Liverpool – have been electing a mayor.

  • London: 7 candidates, with Brian Paddick waving the Lib Dem flag.
  • Salford: 10 candidates, including Lib Dem Norman Owen.
  • Liverpool: 12 candidates, including Richard Kemp for the Liberal Democrats.

Photo of Liverpool Town Hall under Creative Commons license from

In addition, Londoners were electing the 25 members of the London Assembly.  The count takes place on Friday, and we will be running a separate open thread on the London elections from tomorrow morning.


All the seats in 32 unitaries were up for election.  The party is defending 149 seats out of a total of 1222. All Scottish councils are holding their counts on Friday.


All the seats in 21 out of 22 unitaries were up for election. The elections in Anglesey have been postponed until next year. Lib Dems are defending 151 seats out of 1221.

Where to find results

Full results can be found here on the BBC.

The BBC has a useful guide to the expected timings of results. Some counts are being held on Thursday night and others start on Friday morning.

ALDC is keeping a running total of mayoral, referendums and council results.

The Guardian has an interactive map showing the state of play across England, Scotland and Wales.

LibDemVoice Co-Editor Stephen Tall has posted his 5 predictions for election night over at his own blog here.


Midnight: Sunderland is, as usual, the first to declare. Lib Dems lose their only seat.

1.45am: Nottingham votes No to an elected mayor.

1.50am: The Lib Dem leader of Wrexham, Ron Davies, has lost his seat to an Independent.

2.30am: Lib Dems hold Cheltenham but have lost Cambridge to NOC (although still the largest party). We have increased our majorities in Portsmouth and Eastleigh.

3.15am: BBC’s predicted overall share of the vote – Labour 39%, Conservatives 31%, Liberal Democrats 16%, others 14%

3.25am: Manchester votes against having an elected mayor.

3.40am: Of the seats declared so far, Lib Dems have lost about half the seats they were defending.

4am: Rodney Berman, Lib Dem leader in Cardiff has lost his seat. Update: there will be a recount at 1pm today.

Open thread

Use the comments below to update LDV readers with your own local results, and to add your reactions. Over to you …

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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This entry was posted in Local government, London, Scotland and Wales.


  • Would a catastrophic result spell the end of the coalition or will the ‘will’ of the electorate be ignored; the fallout for the locals is going to be very interesting.

    Lets not forget that no party won the general election.

  • As an ex Liberal Democrat member and voter, today for the first time ever I failed to vote. I suspect I’m far from unique. The Liberal Democrats in St Helen’s will be lucky to return one councillor; all the hard work done over the years undone by the decision to crawl into bed with the Tories. Unfortunately the leadership and their few followers will learn nothing and and will stubble onwards to total disaster in 2015.

  • simon_beard 3rd May '12 - 10:55pm

    No James, it wouldn’t, not unless it was much worse than predicted. These are local elections across some of the country, even if the government wanted to it would be hard to reprasent them as being a test of the government as a whole, besides which the coalition parties will almost certainly get more votes than Labour.

    However, even if they didn’t, if the results truly where catastrophic and people were willing to make the leap from local to national, it still wouldn’t spell the end of the coalition, because by now there are no other options. Too much bad blood between the coalition and other parties and no will to compromise.

    Nice try though

  • Simon Beard – ‘besides which the coalition parties will almost certainly get more votes than Labour.’

    Whilst I agree with your overall point about not being able to read too much into local election results in relation to national results, I do worry when I start hearing about a, ‘Coalition Vote.’ What if, say, the Conservative+UKIP vote is greater than the combined Conservative+Lib Dem Vote? Or for that matter what if the Labour+Lib Dem vote is greater than the Coalition? People are not voting for their preferred combination of little and large and it is entirely wrong to say that support for one party or the other is a tacit endorsement of the Coalition Agreement.

    Indeed, the one word that everyone seems to be going out of their way to avoid in campaigning is, ‘Coalition.’ The (very real) advantages and good bits are a product of being in government, not in Coalition and that should never be forgotten.

    Neither the Liberal Democrat Party nor anyone else should be looking to be a majority for hire. Yet that is exactly what talk of a Coalition vote represents. For many years there have been hung Council politics in many areas and local parties have managed to operate without needing to fit in with either of the two major parties or second guess the reasons for a vote.

    Granted: local politics do not exist in a national politics free environment. It may very well be that people, sadly, use their local vote to make a comment on national events. Even allowing for that however it is rather difficult to see how to ‘sell’ a unique and positive LD contribution whilst talking of votes for a Coalition that is nowhere on the ballot.

  • @simon, nice try though

    It is possible to be a supporter of the ldp and not the coalition by the way,.

    The voting in lords on the legal aid bill was the last straw for me and since when did party relationships affect our democratic principals?

  • @Dan Falchikov the few who are left will all go for a bath in De Nile.

  • Richard Dean 4th May '12 - 1:33am

    @Dan. Find a new identity!

    I suspect that LibDems got in in 2010 because voters knew they didn’t want Brown but didn’t necessarily want to vote Conservative. Blair was not actually as widely disliked as some people seem to like to believe. Now, coalition makes LibDems seem indistinguishable from Conservatives, or dominated by them, and powerless,. Worse, the obvious divisions within LibDems, about everything but highlighted by the NHS – makes LibDems look unreliable too.

    Perhaps LibDems need to improve the way they communicate with local electors – every action is electoral, not just the actions around election time. But anyway, things might not turn out too bad. Don’t parties of government always do worse in local and mid-term elections?

  • Dan – so far we have held 2 out of 2 of the councils we are defending, and Chris Rennard has just said that he expects us to lose no councils at all, although some will be close. Sure, we are losing seats – in some areas catastrophically – but we won’t lose two-thirds of our seats overall.

  • Alex Sabine 4th May '12 - 2:06am

    @ Duncan: “The (very real) advantages and good bits are a product of being in government, not in Coalition and that should never be forgotten.”

    As a party that believes in PR, which makes power-sharing and coalitions almost inevitable, for Lib Dems to complain about this is like sailors complaining about the sea!

  • “Don’t parties of government always do worse in local and mid-term elections?”

    John Curtice saying this is above and beyond what you would expect as regards our vote.

  • Alex Sabine 4th May '12 - 4:37am

    Yes, John Curtice reckons this is a chronic, existential problem not (potentially short-term) mid-term blues. He points out that from the low point of the late 1980s the recovery in the polls for the Lib Dems came through by-election successes that at least in part were based on harnessing a large protest vote. That route is closed off by being in government.

    Meanwhile Chris Rennard is doing his Dr Pangloss routine, much to the astonishment of Chuka Umunna who has scored a few hits tonight I’d say.

    As a very broad-brush observation, it seems to me that the Lib Dems’ prospects of recovering some of the lost ground in vote share and mounting a decent defence of seats at the next general election will depend on two key things:

    – economic recovery and a return to rising living standards (which will happen eventually, but would be badly derailed by a eurozone meltdown)
    – developing an agenda, vocabulary and policy platform that persuades the public that the LDs are the party that best combines economic competence and financial discipline with a commitment to a compassionate and inclusive society

    Of course neither of these can be achieved by waving a magic wand. But it’s worth noting that the second one wasn’t even a remote possibility while the party was seen as a vehicle for protest votes rather than a possible party of government (Jeremy Vine’s graph showing how voters have rated the three main parties on the economy over the years made this point).

    I doubt whether crude ‘differentiation’ is the answer. I suspect Chuka Umunna is right that too much of it just makes the Lib Dems look untrustworthy and wanting to have it both ways.

    Something more subtle and strategic is required, recognising that it is inevitably a long game and that the experience of being in government would naturally lead to a loss of support from former ‘protest voters’. That source of support will not come back, so new ones are clearly needed and that does mean developing an agenda that is relevant and speaks to parts of the electorate the party hasn’t always got a hearing from in the past, but whose support was critical to the electoral successes of Thatcher and Blair.

    Of course that agenda should be distinctively liberal, not populist; but it does need to recognise the facts that (a) many Lib Dem preoccupations, notably constitutional reform, leave voters cold, and (b) the Lib Dems have a perception problem on issues like the EU where the party is seen as a starry-eyed defender of everything that emanates from Brussels (the contortions over things like whether there should be an in/out referendum on EU membership just reinforce this). By contrast policies like the £10K personal allowance are liberal, popular and of real practical relevance to the majority of the electorate.

  • My conclusion (for what it’s worth) is that we will continue with our current direction unless, of course, our coalition masters decide that we can be dispensed with.
    We have lost able councillors and it follows that, as a result, we will have lost activists. 2015 will be upon us and our ability to ‘fight the good fight’ will be diminished. Still, just keep repeating, “There’s no alternative” and everything will be OK.

  • @Jason The sad thing is you can see the lack of interest. Here on the forum for Liberal Democrats only 15 comments have been made. Many of them are from non Liberal Democrats, people have given up even being angry with the party; they just treat them as a hopeless case.

  • @Richard Dean
    “Don’t parties of government always do worse in local and mid-term elections?”

    Yes they do, but not to this extent.

    “I suspect that LibDems got in in 2010 because voters knew they didn’t want Brown but didn’t necessarily want to vote Conservative. ”

    The Lid Dems did badly at the 2010 election (compared to previous elections), despite Brown being very unpopular and being on the receiving end of an incredibly malicious press. The reason was Clegg – when he started talking about going into coalition with the largest party, people twigged that meant the Tories. That’s why you did badly.

    The coalition was inevitable because of the 2010 results. The lib dems were always going to come out of the coalition even less popular than when they went in. However, it is the nature of Clegg’s handling of being in coalition and his agreement with so many of the Tories’ policies that has led to the scale of Lib Dem vote decline.

    Clegg’s comment to Cameron in March 2011 sums up everything about the collapse in Lib Dem support:
    “If we keep doing this we won’t find anything to bloody disagree about in the bloody TV debates!”

  • Malcolm Todd 4th May '12 - 8:31am

    Any word from Paul Barker yet?

  • @Alex – John Curtice has some kind of prejudice against the Lib Dems. He’s never acknowledged good nights and always over-egged poor ones – though his analysis of the other parties tend to be pretty accurate. I’d take what he says about the Lib Dems with a teaspoonful of salt. And remember, though the number of seats has plunged the share of the vote is about the same.

    Two things came into my mind this morning.

    Firstly, one key argument against leaving / collapsing the coalition is that the Tories would call an election within 6 months. Given Labour’s current position and lead, would they actually risk this – or would they try to bumble along for long enough? It wouldn’t be in our interest (or probably the country’s) to have a vote of no confidence, and without our support it couldn’t pass – so could we theoretically move to “supply and confidence?”

    Secondly, the votes from Scotland aren’t in yet. I suspect that some of the Labour smiles will be wiped when these come in.

    Sadly, though, it looks like a return to the old days of local councils…

  • This year’s election results feel different from 2011. the turnout is down – I think the protest is to not vote rather than switch to Labour. The Lib Demsare doing better in the heartlands where they have MPs and councils – targeted resources, some less candidates and seeing the tough challenge – working harder to get the vote out will mean less seat losses in the end and certainly little loss in councils.

    The longer term fortunes of the party are tied to the economic recovery – its mid term but actually only two years into this government – the economy is going to get better – the olympics and the tax cuts putting more money into working people’s pockets will see that happen in the rest of 2012. Beyond that we depend on Europe and the US. There is no magic wand…here are no other real alternatives – Labour’s siren voices are unrealistic. we’ve got to get the job done in government.

  • Richard Dean 4th May '12 - 8:56am

    If LibDems want to succeed.,it is important for them to understand what makes success . What led to the success reported by Simon Shaw? What was different there compared to places where LibDems lost ground? And as with every enquiry, it is important not to bring pre-judgment to the table.

  • I know some on here want to paint May 3rd as a complete disaster, it wasn’t every way. Here in Portsmouth and Eastleigh we not only held control but gained seats. In Portsmouth that included winning Cosham from third place.

  • Keith Browning 4th May '12 - 9:26am

    I think a massive own goal in last few days, with senior Lib Dems in government openly supporting Cameron and Hunt in their sleazy stuff. It certainly made me think twice about voting LD.

    Important to differentiate and support only what has been agreed and the the bits the LibDems like. Then stand back and watch the Tories self-destruct over next 18 months.

  • The reality is that at the next general election we will now just have to fight 57 by election campaigns and hope we hold 35-40.outside the areas with professional organisation the voluntary structure is collapsing with people deciding to take breaks from activity till after the anhillation that will be 2015.

  • Rodney Berman has not lost his seat. There is a recount at 1pm, please change your last update.

  • Liberal Neil 4th May '12 - 10:37am

    Without wanting to come across as overly optimistic I think it is worth noting that we are currently 24 months into a 60 month Parliament. Things have changed a lot during the last 24 months and they could change a lot again over the next 36.

    I do agree with Peter, though, that the next GE is likely to be a ‘batten down the hatches’ one. But then that’s always been our best strategy. We would have done better in ’05 and ’10 if we’d followed it better.

  • Alex Sabine, please stand for the Federal Exec, they need your input. . and Richard Dean is right but only partly, it is not just the electorate that the party need to communicate better with(where they sadly rely on a slanted media), but they really need to make internal communication with party members far more effective.

  • 1 Labour are just regaining some of the swathes of seats that they lost when they were at the end of the Blair-Brown Government, that’s no surprise; 2 We can no longer count on the protest votes, they now go to ‘others’; 3 In many places where voters want to kick the Govt the Tories are already 3rd/4th place, so they kick the LDs.

  • David Allen 4th May '12 - 1:56pm

    So, why is it just as dreadful as last year?

    In the national polls, we have risen slightly since last year, albeit from an appallingly low base. That does not seem to have been reflected at the local level.

    I think the probable explanation goes like this. We have, of course, always attracted local voters who like our local candidates even though they don’t vote LD in national elections. Last year, that factor did to some extent hold up for us. A lot of people said to themselves “Well, Joe Councillor from down the road is still the same decent fellow as he was before all this Cleggery came along. I’ll carry on voting for him.” But as time goes on and the position of the national Lib Dems as Cameron’s poodles becomes entrenched in people’s minds, that sentiment will fade. This year, more people said “Well, Joe Councillor isn’t going to get my vote if he sticks around with this awful Coalition any longer. It’s time I found someone else to vote for.”

    So, sorry, but it ain’t going to get any better, until we do something about it!

  • Rebecca Taylor 4th May '12 - 3:35pm

    If (it’s what Labour say constantly, we shouldn’t help them peddle it further…) we are only seen as “Tory poodles”, why are so many Tories complaining today that they’ve lost seats because of government policies that aren’t Conservative enough due to those pesky LibDems?

    Post budget polling showed downward trend for Tories, upward trend for Labour and virtually no change for us. This indicates to me that the most disliked aspects of the budget (cutting 50p tax rate, older people’s tax free allowance freeze, charity limits etc) were linked to the Tories not us. Pity we couldn’t have gained from our low-middle income tax cuts (which you may notice Labour never ever mention as it’s a good and popular policy they can’t oppose and don’t want us to gain credit for).

    You can also be sure that if we were to pull out of coalition, Labour would be the first to hammer us for it. I can imagine things like “can’t handle power”, “not fit for government”, “flip floppers”, “no sticking power” etc (and those are the polite things that could be said!).

    P.s. if anyone has done a comparison with Labour losses in 2008, please point me in the right direction. Tks

  • Speaking as a former party member, former councillor, agent and bottle washer there is one clear positive result from this disaster. I feel were are perhaps closer to getting the party back from the Blue (sorry Yellow) book-ers even if takes a general election disaster and the likes of David Laws to go off to the Tories where he will be more at home before the job is complete. A fig-leaf for Thatcherism is no place for a Liberal.

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