Coalition parties do badly in local polls as UKIP storms ahead
The ruling coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats took large losses in local elections on Thursday just one year away from a general election.
In the local elections, which covered all 32 London boroughs, all 36 metropolitan boroughs, 74 second-tier district authorities and 20 unitary authorities, 4,216 seats were being contested.
The Conservatives, the senior partner in the governing coalition, lost 201 seats and 11 councils, leaving them with 41 councils and 1259 seats. The junior coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats, did worse; they lost 284 seats and two councils and were reduced to control of six councils and 404 seats.
The main opposition Labour Party had a frustrating day, not making the breakthrough they needed to win the general election next year outright. They did win 292 extra seats and six extra councils to take control of 81 councils in total and they won 1891 seats in these elections.
The big winners of the day were the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). From virtually no seats prior to these elections they gained 155 seats to take a total of 157 seats and came close to taking control in several councils.
With the 2015 general election in mind, the most important story is that UKIP took votes away from Labour and the Liberal Democrats as well as the Conservatives. The main three parties had assumed that UKIP was taking votes from the Conservatives alone but the results on Thursday threw the Westminster parties into a spin as they discovered that UKIP had realised wide popular and cross party appeal.
The Eurosceptic UKIP is also expected to do well in the European Elections, with results to be announced on Sunday or Monday. Some polls predict UKIP becoming the largest UK party in the European Parliament.