6 May 2016

Elections: mixed results for Labour, SNP wins third term

Labour suffers fewer losses than predicted in English council elections, but is pushed into third place in its former Scottish heartland as the SNP wins a third term in government.

Although Jeremy Corbyn’s party lost seats in England, its performance was not as poor as some had forecast.

But that did not stop Labour backbencher David Winnick from saying that the party “faces a crisis” and Mr Corbyn “should decide whether his leadership is helping or hindering the party”.

In Scotland, Labour suffered a drubbing, seeing the SNP win at Holyrood for the third time, although Nicola Sturgeon’s party failed to win an outright majority.

As significant was the fact that Labour was pushed into third place behind the Conservatives, who have enjoyed little success north of the border in recent decades.

‘Made history’

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her party had “made history” by winning a third term.

In Wales, where Ukip won its first assembly seats, Labour is poised to run a minority administration. But it was rocked by losing its totemic Rhondda seat to Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood.

Results for the London mayoral elections will be announced later, with Labour’s Sadiq Khan strongly tipped to take over from Conservative Boris Johnson.

Labour’s showing was described as a “mixed picture” by deputy leader Tom Watson, who said there were “crumbs of comfort” for the party because it had held on to key councils in the south and Midlands.


But Labour MP Neil Coyle warned the party was “moving away from government” under Mr Corbyn’s leadership, while his colleague John Mann described the result in Scotland as “cataclysmic”.

In a possible signal that Labour’s prospects of forming a government at Westminster are fading, shadow home secretary and former leadership challenger, Andy Burnham, said he was considering running for mayor of Greater Manchester.

In England, Labour held on to some councils it had expected to lose, but its showing does not suggest it is making the sorts of mid-term gains it needs to win a general election in 2020.

‘Big upset’

Communities Secretary Greg Clark told ITV1’s Good Morning Britain: “Normally oppositions expect to make gains mid-term. When Michael Foot was elected Labour leader, in his first year he made nearly 1,000 gains. So for Labour to have a high-water mark with what Ed Miliband achieved and they are now receding from that, I think is a big upset.”

Labour’s Emma Reynolds, who resigned from the shadow cabinet after Mr Corbyn became leader, said the party should not be content with “standing still” when the Tories are in “disarray” and should have made significant gains.