Whether it was the result of the vaccine jump, high public spending during the pandemic, or the ongoing impact of Brexit, Boris Johnson had a very good couple of days.
However, Tory’s success in the Hartlepool by-election and the Prime Minister’s personal popularity tell only part of the story of Super Thursday – hundreds of local, national and mayoral elections across the UK. We know the following as far as the count is to continue throughout the weekend.
– The Conservatives won the Northeast constituency, with Jill Mortimer taking the seat from Labor with a majority of 6,940.
The first big result that defined the narrative for the next 24 hours. In a breathtaking victory, the Conservatives overturned a 3,500 majority in the general election to take the seat that Labor had held since its inception in 1974.
The bruise result – described by a shadow cabinet minister as “absolutely shocking” – prompted the Labor Party to change direction, particularly from the left of the party, which was allied with former leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Whichever way Peter Mandelson turns it, facts are persistent things.
Labor won 53% of the vote in Hartlepool in 2017 – the majority of all votes.
And last time we won by 38% – 9% ahead.
This time we got 29% and lost.
The party is going in the wrong direction.
– Richard Burgon MP (@RichardBurgon) May 7, 2021
Union leader Keir Starmer promised “to do whatever is necessary” and urged his party to “stop arguing among themselves”.
“I am bitterly disappointed with the outcome and I take full responsibility for the results – and I will take full responsibility for fixing this,” he said.
“We have changed as a party, but we have not given the country enough arguments.
“Very often we talked to ourselves instead of the country and we lost the trust of the working people, especially in places like Hartlepool.
“I intend to do whatever is necessary to fix this.”
– Tory Ben Houchen was re-elected as Mayor of Tees Valley by a landslide at the first count and received nearly 73% of the vote.
– Labor Ros Jones was re-elected Doncaster Mayor, while Joanne Anderson became Liverpool’s first female black mayor.
There were further successes for the Tories in the northeast when Houchen conveniently won a second term as mayor of Tees Valley.
Together with Hartlepool, this means that two-thirds of the “hat trick” of the results the Tories were looking for has been achieved – with a focus on Andy Street, who remains mayor of West Midlands.
In Liverpool, the city elected its first female black mayor when Labor stuck to the role despite allegations of corruption.
Joanne Anderson was named to succeed Joe Anderson on Friday after the former mayor decided not to stand after his arrest under a Merseyside Police fraud investigation.
I can’t believe I’m writing this. But Tory sources say Shaun Bailey’s campaign now believes they can win London mayor.
– Patrick Maguire (@patrickkmaguire) May 7, 2021
And the excitement about what is probably the most important mayoral battle increased. While many expected an easy win for incumbent Labor Mayor Sadiq Khan, Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey did much better at the ballot box than the polls suggested. A result is expected on Sunday
English local council elections
– With results from 64 out of 143 councils, the Conservatives had a net gain of seven agencies and 155 seats and Labor a net loss of four agencies and 142 seats.
The ruling party – and one that has been in power for more than a decade – is not supposed to win by-elections. It is also said not to do well in local elections, where medium-term drubbing is often seen as a vote of protest against the current national administration.
But the rot continued for Labor. Not only did it lose seats, it also lost overall control of the councils, including Harlow, Dudley and Nottinghamshire. With Conservatives continuing to profit from the Council’s results arriving from across England, the Prime Minister hailed the result as support for his administration’s leveling-up agenda.
“It is a mandate for us to keep delivering, not just to the people of Hartlepool and the amazing people of the Northeast, but to the whole country,” said Johnson.
Vote in the Scottish Parliament
– In Scotland, the SNP won East Lothian from Labor and Ayr and Edinburgh Central from the Tories.
– Of the first 47 seats in the Scottish Parliamentary Contest, 38 went to the SNP, four to the Liberal Democrats, three to the Tories and two to Labor.
The SNP made gains on its rivals as it approached a total majority – but Nicola Sturgeon’s hopes of a victory that would give it a mandate for a second Scottish independence are in the balance.
The SNP took important seats in Edinburgh Central – where the former leader of the SNP Westminster, Angus Robertson, replaced former Scottish Tory boss Ruth Davidson – as well as in Ayr and East Lothian.
But under Holyrood’s proportional representation system, those successes could cause it to lose seats on the regional election list.
Meanwhile, Labor’s Jackie Baillie held onto her constituency in Dumbarton, which had been the most marginal seat in all of Scotland and a primary target for the SNP.
“The most likely outcome is that the SNP will miss out on a seat or two.”
Prof. Sir John Curtice believes Scottish Labor’s influence on the Dumbarton seat makes an SNP majority in these Scottish Parliament elections unlikely. # BBCElections # SP21
– BBC Scotland News (@BBCScotlandNews) May 7, 2021
With some constituencies still to be counted on Saturday and the key results of the regional list also being announced, Sturgeon said this was “not impossible”.
And while the majority of the 129 MSPs in Holyrood were still being declared, Sturgeon said it was “almost certain” that the SNP would win its fourth term in Holyrood.
Former Alba Party’s first minister and chairman Alex Salmond said the measure of his party’s success was “our existence as a political party,” adding it was “here to stay”.
Number of Welsh Congregations
– In Wales, Labor had 19 seats, the Conservatives seven and Plaid Cymru four after the appointment of 30 seats.
The picture was much brighter for Welsh Labor when party leader Mark Drakeford described his strong election performance at Senedd as “exceptional results in exceptional times” as the party appears as a favorite to maintain control of the Welsh government.
The party has exceeded expectations, losing only one of its seats so far and taking over Rhondda from Plaid Cymru’s former leader Leanne Wood.
Drakeford said earlier Friday that signs of strong Labor performance reflected the “real excitement” he had experienced on the doorstep.
It looks like Labor has taken the Rhondda off the beaten track, so I would like to pay tribute to Leanne Wood after 18 years as AM / MS for / in the Rhondda, which is a phenomenal act of commitment to our community. pic.twitter.com/3xlSIDOhyc
– Chris Bryant (@RhonddaBryant) May 7, 2021
Labor said Plaid Cymru “imploded” when he lost his Rhondda seat to Labor’s Elizabeth Buffy Williams and failed to take the target Llanelli and Aberconwy seats.
Rhondda’s outgoing MS, Leanne Wood, told ITV Wales the result was “disappointing” but said her party had run a “clean and honest campaign”.
Labor’s strong results will minimize reliance on other parties in forming a government, with Plaid previously seen as the most likely coalition with them as Labor lagged far behind the majority.
Only one of the so-called red wall seats in Wales, the Vale of Clwyd, fell to the Welsh Conservatives.