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Starmer Hails ‘incredible’ Swing As Labour Wins Byelection And Tories Suffer Heavy Losses In Local Elections – Live

Starmer says ‘incredible’ Blackpool South byelection result show people ‘fed up with decline’ and want changeKeir Starmer is in Blackpool South where he told Labour activists a few minutes ago that the byelection result was a clear message to the PM that people want change. He said:

It is incredible to have won by such a swing, a 26% swing. That’s the fifth swing of over 20% to the Labour party in byelections in recent months and years. It is a fantastic result, a really first class result.

And here in Blackpool, a message has been sent directly to the prime minister, because this was a parliamentary vote, to say we’re fed up with your decline, your chaos of your division and we want change. We want to go forward with Labour.

That wasn’t just a little message. That wasn’t just a murmur. That was a shout from Blackpool. We want to change. And Blackpool speaks forthe whole country in saying we’ve had enough now, after 14 years of failure, 14 years of decline.

Keir Starmer in Blackpool this morning with the new Labour MP for Blackpool South, Chris Webb. Photograph: Phil Noble/ReutersKey events

Mark Brown

Conservative Ben Houchen could be on course to narrowly win the Tees Valley mayoral contest for a third time, giving prime minister Rishi Sunak a glimmer of hope for his immediate political future.

Counting started at 9.30am and the final result is expected at between 12.30 and 1pm.

There are votes from five local authority areas being counted. The results from Hartlepool are in: Houchen – 10,074; Chris McEwan for Labour – 8,732; Simon Thorley for the Lib Dems – 972.

Votes from Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Darlington and Stockton-on-Tees to come.

Ballot papers for the Tees Valley mayoral contest being counted at Thornaby Pavillion on Tees. Photograph: Ian Forsyth/Getty ImagesTory chair Richard Holden claims election results ‘typical for government in midtermIn an interview with Sky News this morning Richard Holden, the Conservative party chair, described these election results as “typical for a government in midterm”.

Sam Coates: Are you confident there won’t be a challenge from parliamentary colleagues… they’ll be seeing their seats going at a general election

Richard Holden(Tory Party Chair): “These results are typical for a govt in mid-term”

Mid-term… we’re months away from a GE. pic.twitter.com/dcuf8NvOMO

— Haggis_UK 🇬🇧 🇪🇺 (@Haggis_UK) May 3, 2024 This is a traditional line for a govenrment party to take when it does badly in local elections. But it only works when the government really is “in midterm” – in its second, third, or even fourth year in office.

This one isn’t – not by any plausible definition. It has been in office for nearly four and a half year. The next general election has to be held by January, and it is widely expected to take place in October or November.

Almost two thirds of Tory party members don’t think Sunak should resign, regardless of how bad results are, survey suggestsAlmost two thirds of Conservative party members do not think Rishi Sunak should resign, regardless of how bad the local election results are, according to a survey.

The ConservativeHome website regularly surveys Tory members and this morning it has published the findings of the responses to its latest question.

As Henry Hill reports in his ConHome write-up:

Almost two thirds, 63 per cent, say that the prime minister should not resign, whatever plays out over the next couple of days. Of the rest the majority, 20 per cent, think he should step down whatever happens. That leaves just 13 per cent who think his future ought to rest on the results of these elections.

Survey on whether Sunak should resign Photograph: ConHome/ConservativeHomeConservativeHome surveys of Tory members are generally seen as fairly reliable guides to what the membership think; they track the results of internal party elections reasonably closely.

And the members who participate in them are not Sunak enthusiasts. In another recent survey they said Sunak was performing worse than any other full member of the cabinet.

On BBC News Nick Eardley has just presented some figures from the BBC’s analysis of council results so far suggesting the Labour vote is down 16 points in areas with a Muslim population. He said that, compared to the results in 2021 (when most of the seats being contested yesterday were last fought), Labour support is down 16 percentage points and Green support is up 19 percentage points.

Eardley stressed that these figures were based on results from just a small number of wards.

Data on voting in areas with high Muslim population Photograph: BBC NewsHe also said that, across the country overall, the Labour vote is up 5 percentage points and the Tories are down 14 percentage points compared to 2021.

These are early, provisional figures, because most of the council results have not come in yet.

Data on council election results Photograph: BBC NewsA reader has sent me this, prompted by the report at 9.47am about the Electoral Commission and photo ID.

I was presiding officer at a station in a large village … yesterday. We were only running a police and crime commissioner poll. I issued ballot papers to 177 electors, three electors had to return after initially failing to bring ID. A fourth elector did not return.

The Electoral Commission voter ID evaluation requires staff to record voter’s details if they are turned away due to lack of ID. However, if stations choose to start by asking for voters’ ID they will generally have no details when the elector departs.

The commission also suggests that stations deploy a “welcomer” to remind electors of the need for ID before they approach the desk for a ballot paper. Combined with possible reluctance by staff to complete yet more paperwork, I fear there may be significant underreporting of the effect of the government’s voter ID scheme.

Prof Michael Thrasher, the lead psephologist for Sky News (their version of John Curtice), said the overnight results were “very bad news” for the Conservative and showed that they were at risk of near-annhilation at the general election.

As Sky News reports, Thrasher said that in 2019 the Tories won a big election victory on the basis of support from leave voters. But he said that, overnight, the Conservative vote was down almost 18 points in the areas that voted most strongly for leave. He went on:

If the Conservative fall as low as these council elections so far appear to be telling us, then we’re in a situation that we were in (back) in 1997, where the Conservative vote fell so far down that they were almost annihilated.

The same fate awaits the Conservatives at the next general election if their vote slides this far below, say, 30% in a general election.

Lewis Baston, an elections specialist, has written an analysis of the results so far for the Guardian. He thinks the outlook looks better for Labour than some of the council seat change figures imply.

Here is an extract.

The Blackpool South byelection was not a routine mid-term setback for the party of government. For a start, it comes well into the fifth year of the parliament and is therefore late-term; the swing is also much higher than normal for mid-terms. We have become used to swings of more than 20 percentage points and Blackpool South is the fifth Conservative seat to fall to Labour on such a large movement in the last year.

No previous parliament since 1945 has had more than two such wins for the main opposition. Blackpool’s verdict looks like an electoral death sentence for the Conservative government. While it is true that the turnout was very low (32.5%) this makes the disappearance of the Conservative vote all the more remarkable. Fewer people voted Tory in 2024 (3,218) than comprised Scott Benton’s marginal majority in 2019 (3,690). Labour polled well over half the vote; its victory owed nothing to the rise of Reform UK to threaten the Tories’ hold on second place …

The results demonstrate how we no longer have the same party system for different levels of election. In Blackpool South, Labour dominated the centre-left vote, the Lib Dems and Greens both losing their deposit. The rightwing vote was divided almost evenly between the Conservatives and Reform UK, giving Labour a massive margin of victory. In the local elections. the pattern is different, with Lib Dems and Greens having local strongholds and dividing the centre-left, while Reform’s limited participation in the local elections meant the Conservatives did not have to worry about vote splits outside a few localities like Hartlepool and Sunderland.

The toll of local government seat losses for the Conservatives, daunting though it may be as the day’s counting proceeds, is understating the potential for a general election drubbing.

And here is the full article.

As Ben Riley-Smith from the Telegraph reports, David Campbell Bannerman, chair of the Conservative Democratic Organisation and a former MEP (for both Ukip and the Tories) has said Rishi Sunak should quit.

**NEW**

David Campbell Bannerman, the ex-Tory MEP and chairman of the Conservative Democratic Organisation, calls on Rishi Sunak to resign.

He tells @Telegraph: “Once again local elections under Sunak have been absolutely disastrous. A year ago we should have won seats…” 1/3

— Ben Riley-Smith (@benrileysmith) May 3, 2024 David Campbell Bannerman, the ex-Tory MEP and chairman of the Conservative Democratic Organisation, calls on Rishi Sunak to resign.

He tells @Telegraph: “Once again local elections under Sunak have been absolutely disastrous. A year ago we should have won seats…” 1/3

…under him; we lost 1,000 councillors. This time is the worst performance in 40 years, so far.

“Sunak is not a natural campaigner and wasn’t even seen campaigning. The lesson is clear: enough of this disastrous, visionless, vacuous leadership. Rishi must go and go now….” 2/3

…This is a reality check for Conservative MPs: enough avoidance of the problem. If you don’t dump Sunak now the party is finished for at least a decade or more and the country is in danger under a hard Left woke Labour. Do the necessary and do it quickly!” 3/3

The Conservative Democratic Organistion is a fringe outfit run by diehard Boris Johnson loyalists. As further results come in today and over the weekend, the situation may well change, but if the anti-Sunak backlash does not spread much beyond Tim Montgomerie (see 6.25am) and David Campbell Bannerman, Sunak will be safe.

Electoral Commission chief claims photo ID requirement for voting didn’t cause ‘any major problems’A reader asks:

We know that Tom Hunt didn’t have ID, Johnson was turned away for not having ID and veterans learned their ID doesn’t count. Is there, please, ANY info on the rest of us? Outside these famous cases there must be thousands and thousands who were denied the right to vote. Come on this is an important stat. Why the silence on it?

“Silence” is a bit unfair. In the 6.50am slot the Today programme interviewed Vijay Rangarajan, chief executive of the Electoral Commission, to ask him about the impact of the photo ID requirement for voters and he claimed that the new rule did not create “any major problems”.

Asked how many people there were like Boris Johnson, who forgot his photo ID when he turned up to vote, Rangarajan replied:

It does not seem like there were very many.

This was the first test for large parts of the country of the Elections Act provision on voter ID. We had people around the country, I was out looking and observing in polling stations. A few people turned up without it. They went home and got it, much like Mr Johnson did. An awful lot of people had brought it. We think the campaigns that we and many others have done to raise awareness had worked.

Asked if some people would have been discouraged from voting in the first place by the photo ID requirement, Rangarajan said that the commission had “not seen any major problems so far” but that it would be doing further analysis.

A report by the commission last year, after the local elections where people were required to produce photo ID for the first time, said at least 0.25% of people who tried to vote were unable to do so because they lacked photo ID. And it said, of those people who did not vote, 4% of them said it was because of the photo ID rule.

My colleague Helen Pidd points out that a Karl Marx has been elected as a Labour councillor in Stockport.

I want to know more about the Karl Marx of Stockport, who just won a seat for Labour in Stockport’s most deprived ward, Brinnington. t.co/mEPwkgzdJc

— Helen Pidd (@helenpidd) May 3, 2024 I want to know more about the Karl Marx of Stockport, who just won a seat for Labour in Stockport’s most deprived ward, Brinnington.

She is referring to this post on X from Stockport council.

🗳️Brinnington & Stockport Central results are in🗳️

Karl Peter Marx Wardlaw (Labour) has been elected to represent Brinnington & Stockport Central at the Stockport local elections 2024. #LE2024 #StockportElection

— Stockport Council (@StockportMBC) May 3, 2024 Brinnington & Stockport Central results are in🗳️

Karl Peter Marx Wardlaw (Labour) has been elected to represent Brinnington & Stockport Central at the Stockport local elections 2024

In an interview with the BBC, Keir Starmer was asked if he was concerned that his position on Gaza was costing him vote. (It has been cited as the reason, or part of the reason, for Labour losing control of Oldham council.) In response, Starmer did not really engage with the question. He said that he was concerned wherever the party was losing votes. But he went on:

But there’s no denying that across the country, whether is Hartlepool in the north, or Rushmoor in the south [in Hampshire], or Redditch, bellwether seats, we are winning votes across the country. And that, I think, reflects a changed the Labour party with a positive case to take to the country.

Keir Starmer in Blackpool South. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PAStarmer says ‘incredible’ Blackpool South byelection result show people ‘fed up with decline’ and want changeKeir Starmer is in Blackpool South where he told Labour activists a few minutes ago that the byelection result was a clear message to the PM that people want change. He said:

It is incredible to have won by such a swing, a 26% swing. That’s the fifth swing of over 20% to the Labour party in byelections in recent months and years. It is a fantastic result, a really first class result.

And here in Blackpool, a message has been sent directly to the prime minister, because this was a parliamentary vote, to say we’re fed up with your decline, your chaos of your division and we want change. We want to go forward with Labour.

That wasn’t just a little message. That wasn’t just a murmur. That was a shout from Blackpool. We want to change. And Blackpool speaks forthe whole country in saying we’ve had enough now, after 14 years of failure, 14 years of decline.

Keir Starmer in Blackpool this morning with the new Labour MP for Blackpool South, Chris Webb. Photograph: Phil Noble/ReutersHere is the latest summary of councils that have changed control as a result of results counted so far.

Labour gains from Tories: Redditch and Rushmoor

Labour gains from no overall control: Hartlepool and Thurrock

Conservative loss to no overall control: North East Lincolnshire

Labour losss to no overall control: Oldham

Reform UK’s Lee Anderson says he thinks his new party will overtake Tories in vote shareAnd in an interview with Sky News Lee Anderson, the Reform UK MP, said he thought his new party would overtake his old one, the Tories.

He said the 17% Reform UK got in Blackpool South (see 6.10am) was higher than the 15% he was expecting. He went on:

We’re going up and the Conservative Party is coming down.

We’re going to meet at some point. We’ve already met it in places in the north and in the Midlands.

I think with a general election probably four or five months away, then we’re going to surpass them.

Lee Anderson, the former deputy chair of the Conservative party who is now a Reform UK MP, told the Today programme this morning that the result in Blackpool South showed that his party was “here to stay” and “making in-roads”.

And he said the election results were very bad for his old party.

It was a good night for Labour, let’s be honest. It was a very, very poor night for the Conservative party.

Tory MP Andrea Jenkyns, who in past called for Sunak to quit, says it’s ‘unlikely’ he will face no confidence voteOnly two Conservative MPs are so far on the record as saying that Rishi Sunak should be replaced before the general election. They are Dame Andrea Jenkyns, who said in November she was calling for a no confidence vote, and Sir Simon Clarke, the former levelling up secretary, who wrote a Telegraph article in January saying Sunak should go.

But Jenkins now accepts that a no confidence vote is “unlikely”. She told the Today programe a few minutes ago:

I’m not sure that colleagues are going to be putting the letters in, so we’re working with what we’ve got.

I think we shouldn’t have got rid of Boris [Johnson] in the first place. But we are where we are. And it’s looking unlikely that the MPs are going to put the letters in. So we’ve got to pull together.

Jenkyns was referring to the 52 letters that need to be sent to the chair of the Conservative 1922 Committee for a no confidence vote to be held. Letters are submitted in secret, and so only the chair, Sir Graham Brady, knows how many have already gone in. But it is thought the rebels are not remotely close to getting the 52 letters they need.

In an interview with Sky News this morning Richard Holden, the Conservative party chair, played down the results of the Blackpool South byelection, pointing out that it was held “in particular circumstances of not only the previous MP [Scott Benton] having been forced to stand down but also during the campaign in the neighbouring seat a former Conservative MP [Mark Menzies] had to have the whip withdrawn.”

Prof Sir John Curtice, the elections expert, gave a rather different assessment on the Today programme this morning. Speaking about the byelection result, he said:

The honest truth is the result in Blackpool South was spectacular. It was the third biggest swing from Conservative to Labour in post-war in postwar byelection history. And it’s the third biggest drop in the Conservative vote in postwar byelection history.

The trouble is, we’ve rather used to the spectacular in parliamentary byelections in this parliament. This is now the fifth by election in which the swing has been over 20%. There have haven’t been much more than a dozen of those in the whole of the post war period.

When was the last time that such swings occurred as more than a rare event? Well, it was the parliament of 1992 to 1997 which ended with Tony Blair winnning a landslide victory.

Chris Webb, the new Labour MP for Blackpool South, celebrating with his wife Portia and baby Cillian Douglas Webb after the byelection result was announced. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PAPat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign coordinator, told BBC Breakfast this morning that he did think Gaza might be costing the party votes in some places. “I don’t think there’s any point in denying that,” he said. But he said he did not think it was the only reason for Labour losing control of Oldham council. (See 7.19am.) He said:

In addition to the Middle East issue which you mentioned there are specific very local factors in Oldham which have knocked it out of line with the Labour gains we’ve been seeing in local elections.

Labour gain two police and crime commissioner posts as first 3 PCC results declaredYesterday, as well as voting for councillors and metro mayors, everyone in England and Wales had the chance to vote for a police and crime commissioner. These posts are some of the more obscure in local government – turnout in these elections has historically been very low, and most PCCs are not well known – but they have been a Conservative stronghold. Some 30 of the 37 PCC posts being contested have been held by the Tories.

But that could change. Three results are in already, and Labour has gained two of them.

In Avon and Somerset Labour’s Clare Moody won with 32% over the Conservative incumbent Mark Shelford (31%). In 2021 the Tories won with 35% of the vote over Labour’s 24%.

And in Cumbria Labour’s David Allen beat the Tory incumbent by 47% to 30%. In 2021 the Conservatives won with 54% of the vote, more than double Labour’s share.

But the Conservative did retain the PCC post in Lincolnshire.

UPDATE: Some readers have been in touch to say they did not get a PCC vote. But they will have had a metro mayor vote, and metro mayors generally perform the role of a PCC.

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