Labor is now the largest party of local government – overtaking the Conservatives for the first time since 2002.
The party achieved the milestone after picking up more than 500 seats by Friday evening.
By contrast, the Conservatives endured a torrid evening, losing more than 1,000 seats, meeting the worst possible pre-election expectations.
While Labor has made some gains in areas that it will need to win back at a general election, doubts remain whether the party has done enough to be on the cusp of a return to government.
Analysis by Sky News election expert Professor Michael Thrasher suggests Labor would fall 28 seats short of a House of Commons majority if this election’s vote trends were repeated in a general election.
Labor performed better than the Conservatives across three quarters of local wards that haven’t changed since the last time these seats were up in 2019. We’ll delve into more detail on where the parties did better and worse further down.
Which councils have changed hands?
Labour’s biggest gains were medwayin Kent, and swindonin Wiltshire.
It’s the first time they have ever had a majority in Medway while Swindon is an important swing seat and key target for Labour, and it is where Sir Keir Starmer kicked off his party’s election campaign.
Labor has taken control of 19 councils, six directly from the Conservatives.
They have also come close to regaining control over two of its key red wall targets in the Tees Valley.
The party is now one seat short of an overall majority in Darlington and Hartlepool, with the two councils remaining under no overall control.
they won plymouth after the Conservatives were only able to defend one of their nine seats in this election, and took Stoke-on-Trent After making 10 gains, nine of which were from independents and other parties.
Labour’s only loss so far has been Slough, where the party lost half its seats. The council is now under no overall control.
The Conservatives have gained control of just two councils so far and lost control in 45 others – 17 in the south, 16 in the Midlands, nine in the east, two in the north west and one in Yorkshire.
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Six of those are now under Labor control, while four have been taken by the Liberal Democrats. The rest are under no overall control, meaning no single party has a majority.
The Liberal Democrats have enjoyed stunning successes across the south, taking Surrey Heath and Windsor and Maidenhead from the Conservatives.
There is a clear pattern that has seen the Conservatives suffer their worst losses in the south. The Lib Dems have held on to their support in the region, which represents a good performance given that these seats were last fought in 2019 when the party was polling strongly due to the Brexit impasse.
Labor has seen its vote increase across the country, but with the largest rises in the north and midlands.
Who’s had a good election?
The Conservatives have lost more than 1,000 seats, while Labor have made more than 500 gains.
The remainder of the Conservative seat losses split between the Lib Dems and the Greens.
There’s still a way to go, but on results so far it looks like the Conservatives are performing about as poorly as pre-election expectations got to.
What remains to be seen is whether Labor are doing enough to look like a government-in-waiting.
Are Labor doing enough to be general election frontrunners?
Labor has maintained roughly a 15-point lead in the polls since Rishi Sunak became prime minister. However, they also tend to underperform their polling in local elections, by about six points on average.
Sky Election Analyst Michael Thrasher has calculated the national vote share had these elections been held across the country.
This puts Labor on 36%, the Conservatives on 29% and the Liberal Democrats on 18%. These results are projected to produce a hung parliament with Labor as the largest party, were the pattern of voting at the local elections to be replicated at a general election.
Even so, the results show that Labor is in a much better place than it was in 2019, when the party suffered its worst general election defeat since 1935.
That’s the big picture, but you can see how the parties have fared in your council using the dropdown on the chart below.
Are Labor winning votes in the right areas?
A key part of analyzing whether these results show Labor are in a position to win an election is looking at whether they are winning in areas where the Conservatives are currently in control. There’s some good news and some bad news.
Labor vote share is up higher in areas where the Conservatives are currently ahead and Labor are within touching distance (15 percentage points). However the overall swing of votes to Labor is lower in those areas, as the Conservative vote is also up in those places.
Conservatives are losing votes fastest in the south, often in areas where the Lib Dems are their main rivals. Given the Lib Dems’ strong performance in 2019, their vote share increase is limited but the Conservatives are losing further ground in these areas.
Which sorts of people are Labor appealing to?
Labor has seen its vote increase most in areas that voted to leave the EU in 2016, typically with fewer university graduates and more working-class voters.
This represents a reversal of trends in recent elections – which had suggested the party was losing its grip on its traditional heartlands.
The Conservatives, by contrast, have seen big falls in their support in areas with younger, professional, Remain-voting areas with higher numbers of graduates.
Confronted with an emboldened Labor Party in the North, and increasingly confident Lib Dems in the South, the government faces a nasty pincer movement.