Tories batter Labour in English Local Elections.

In the elections that took place just in England and not the whole of the UK , Labour have been battered.

The Tories gain 249 seats in the English elections, while Labour lose 251. The Lib Dems gain 18.

Overall, Labour only finished THIRD - the main parties' share of the vote were projected at: Conservatives 40 per cent, Lib Dems 27 per cent, Labour 26 per cent.

The Far Right British National Party (BNP) also gained seats - 13 of them, and the England First Party gained seats in some towns.

If this was a UK General Election instead of English Local Elections, the Tories would have won.

23 million people across England (around half of the entire UK electorate) were eligible to vote (about 80% of the people of Britain live in England and the other 20% live in Scotland, Wales and NI). The 40% turnout was higher than expected, and was probably due to the hot, sunny weather.

Blair reshuffles Cabinet after drubbing in local elections
By Philippe Naughton and agencies

The new Conservative councillors in one of the big Tory gains of the night in London, Hammersmith and Fulham (Gill Allen/The Times)

Party: councils; change; seat change
Con: 63; +8; +249
Lab: 23; -15; -251
LD: 12; +1; +18
BNP: 0; 13; +13

Tony Blair began reshuffling his Cabinet today to put his Government back on course after Labour received a drubbing from the voters in local council elections.

The main victim of the reshuffle was expected to be John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister who has been embroiled in a public adultery scandal. Mr Prescott was widely expected to retain his title and his seat at the Cabinet table, but lose control of his department.

In Labour’s worst day at the polling booths since Mr Blair came to power, the party lost more than 250 councillors across England as well as control of 16 town halls.

The Conservatives won roughly the same number of council seats - their best showing since 1992 - while the Liberal Democrats picked up just 18 councillors. The main parties' share of the vote were projected at: Conservatives 40 per cent, Lib Dems 27 per cent, Labour 26 per cent.

It was a good night for the British National Party, which saw 13 councillors elected - although 11 of them in Barking, East London, where Margaret Hodge, the local Labour MP, has been accused of talking up the party's chances.

David Cameron said the vote had produced "very strong results" for the Tories in their first big test since he became leader. "We hit that all-important 40 per cent share of the vote," he said.

But Mr Cameron conceded that the Tories, who fared much better in London and the South than further North, still had a lot of work to do. "I’m not claiming that this means it’s going to be easy from here on. Of course it isn’t. We’ve got a lot of hard work to do, not least in places like Manchester and Newcastle," he told GMTV.

Labour's most damaging defeats came in London, where the party lost control of ten town halls including Camden, Merton, Lewisham and Croydon. The Conservatives gained control of Ealing, Bexley and Hammersmith and Fulham and for the first time since 1978 now control more London boroughs than does Labour.

Outside the capital, Labour's losses included Derby, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Crawley. Conservative success in London and the shires was not repeated in metropolitan areas of the North, with Mr Cameron failing in his effort to establish a toehold in places such as Manchester and Newcastle and coming fourth to the Greens in Liverpool.

The disastrous results for Labour led to calls from backbenchers for Mr Blair to set out a timetable to hand over the premiership to his presumed successor, Gordon Brown, the Chancellor.

Frank Dobson, the former Health Secretary, said that the reshuffle would amount to no more than "rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic" and insisted the party needed "new management".

A close ally of the Chancellor, former minister Nick Brown, suggested Mr Blair may not be the man to stop Labour's woes. "We can’t drift on," he told the BBC. "It’s pretty clear what’s gone wrong and we need to address it."

The Times suggested today that Mr Prescott would publicly take the brunt of the blame for the electoral debacle. It said that Mr Prescott has been close to resigning several times since the disclosure of his affair with Tracey Temple, his assistant diary secretary, and has told friends that he knows he has damaged his party.

The Prime Minister has so far sought to portray Mr Prescott’s affair with a civil servant as "a private matter".

Mr Prescott was one of the first ministers to arrive in Downing Street this morning. He was whisked to the door in a silver car and entered without commenting to waiting reporters.

Also thought to be vulnerable in the shake-up of the Government’s frontbench team is Charles Clarke, despite Mr Blair’s repeated insistence that the Home Secretary should be allowed to stay on to sort out problems with the deportation of foreign prisoners.

Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, and Tessa Jowell, Culture Secretary, who have both found themselves the subject of negative headlines in recent weeks, may be spared the axe. Mr Blair’s strong public expressions of support for them give them hope that they will keep their seats at the Cabinet table.

Ms Jowell said that "noise" from national controversies had drowned out strong campaigns on the ground, and suggested that local activists felt "let down" by Labour’s MPs at Westminster.

With some 23 million people - half the UK electorate - entitled to go to the polls in 176 local authorities in England, yesterday’s ballot was the largest electoral test ahead of the general election expected in 2009 or 2010.

Conservative success in London and the shires was not repeated in the large cities of the north, with Mr Cameron failing in his effort to establish a toehold in places such as Manchester and Newcastle and coming fourth to the Greens in Liverpool.

Senior Labour aides suggested the results showed a "north-south divide" in the political landscape of England, with the Tories failing to break out of their traditional heartlands.

But Mr Cameron rejected this charge, claiming: "The Conservative Party has broadened its appeal under my leadership and we’re making gains right across the country."

Francis Maude, the Tory chairman, said the party’s gains were "at the top end" of what had been expected.

George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor who is Mr Cameron's closest political ally, said that Mr Blair’s reshuffle was "an attempt to cover up very bad losses for Tony Blair and Labour in the local elections and very good results for David Cameron and the Conservative Party.

"We have had a fantastic night, gained councils we have never controlled before and a reshuffle is not going to hide the bad news for Tony Blair," he said.

Labour’s losses were more than double the level of 100 which the party had indicated it could live with in a mid-term poll. A Sky News projection suggested that the Conservatives would have a 10-seat majority in the House of Commons if last night’s figures were repeated in a general election - even though it is notoriously difficult to read across from local to national elections.
More news from the elections.

Tories snatch inner-city prize
By Alexandra Frean

The outgoing leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council , Labour's Stephen Burke (Gill Allen/The Times)

THE Conservatives received an early boost in the battle for London last night as they claimed victory in the key borough of Hammersmith and Fulham from Labour after 20 years in opposition.

Early indications just before midnight suggested a Tory victory in the inner city borough, giving a big fillip to Tory morale and suggesting that a nationwide breakthrough was on the cards.

The Tories last held control here with support from the Liberal Democrats in 1986, but have not had an overall majority since 1968, when Mr Cameron was only a year old.

Having taken the parliamentary seat of Hammersmith and Fulham from Labour in last year’s general election with a swing of 7.5 per cent, and having won a by-election in the council’s Ravenscourt Park ward last year with a 300 majority, Stephen Greenhalgh, leader of the Tory group on the council, said the party had needed only a small swing to take overall control.

“This is a historic night for the Tory party, we have not had control of this council for 38 years. It’s historic because it shows that the Tory party has a message for inner city residents, not just the residents of the leafy suburbs.

“We have reached out to people who traditionally do not vote Conservative,” Mr Greenhalgh said.

Early estimates put turn out at 40 per cent, rising to 50 per cent in the most marginal wards. This was comfortably above the 32 per cent of 2002, when the borough last held elections, and was the result of a frenetic last-ditch bout of canvassing on the streets and over the telephone yesterday by both sides.

Although the Conservatives and Labour had bussed in big hitters from the national party during the campaign (David Cameron visited four times, Jack Straw brought along his soap box), the candidates ran an intensely local campaign.

Mr Greenhalgh pledged to bring the council tax down, closer to the lower levels enjoyed by residents in the neighbouring Tory-controlled boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea and Wandsworth.

“We find ourselves wedged between these two top-rated councils and people living here wonder why they are paying a higher council tax here in Hammersmith and Fulham for services that are worse,” he said. Crime had also been a core issue in his campaign. “We want to introduce a zero tolerance policy, similar to New York under Mayor Giuliani,” he said.

Mr Greenhalgh has pledged not to reverse the popular Labour policy of providing free home care to older and disabled people in the borough.

It is not clear, though, how the party intends to pay for its promised tax cuts.

Although the Tories nation-ally painted the victory in Hammersmith and Fulham as a win for David Cameron, many local Conservative members supported Liam Fox and David Davies in last year’s Tory leadership elections and Mr Cameron’s photograph did not appear on local campaign literature.

The local party’s victory was all the more remarkable given that it had been split by the defection of two of their councillors, Emile Al Uzaizi and Amanda Lloyd Harris, who both stood as independents.


BNP claims: 'We're on our way'

Supporters of the far-right BNP claimed the party was "on its way" after picking up extra council seats across England. The British National Party's gains were most dramatic in Barking and Dagenham in east London where it became the second biggest party, seizing 11 of the 13 seats it fought with one ward still to declare. Barking and Dagenham is the first council in the country to have the BNP as the second biggest party. Richard Barnbrook, the BNP's London organiser, who gained one of the seats on the council, said voters had decided the time was right to choose the BNP.


Hodge facing disciplinary action

Labour Party chiefs in east London are considering disciplinary action against their MP over comments she made about the number of voters likely to opt for the BNP. Barking MP Margaret Hodge said last month that as many as eight out of 10 voters in her constituency were contemplating voting for the BNP. Labour officials believe her comments damaged Labour and helped the BNP and they are now considering disciplinary action against Mrs Hodge.
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#3  Top Rated Post
I watch BBC news every week night and it's great to see the Conservatives battering Tony Blair and making him eat sh*t. But my question is, haven't the Conservatives been generally supportive of bLIAR's war on Iraq? And if so, won't this mean that nothing much will change politically?

As for the LD's increase, that could make a more positive change.

Strange to see the right wing extremists emerging when such extremism has generally been disdained among the populace.
nah it hasnt gopher, not here, people may say in the press they dislike racism, but when it comes to the ballot, it's different, besides, I've been to Minnesota, nice wide open spaces, this country is the size of oregon, and has a higher population than Australia, people are getting sick and tired of the amount of immigration we've had, nd all this cafufal about the illegals not being sent home and commiting murder hasnt helped neither. The public are increadibly p!ssed about that one
Home Secretary Charles Clarke is sacked and Defence Secretary Dr John Reid is the new Home Secretary. English voters made sure that he got the sack after he let foreign criminals loose on Britain's streets.

Des Browne becomes Britain's new Defence Secretary.

Democracy at work: Charles "Jug Ears" Clarke is no longer Home Secretary after English voters got rid of him.

Election results at 10.09am: Conservative 65, Labour 24, Liberal Democrat 13, Other 59

Charles Clarke has been sacked from the Government. The under fire Home Secretary lost his job this morning in Tony Blair's Cabinet reshuffle.

It comes following a dismal night for Labour at the local elections polls and a week of criticism over Clarke's handling of the foreign prisoners deportation fiasco.

Mr Clarke - not seen going into No 10 today - made clear his feelings.

He said: "The Prime Minister, as is his right and responsibility, has made the judgment that my continued occupation of the post of Home Secretary is likely to stand in the way of continued reform that remains necessary.

Mr Clarke added he did not agree with Mr Blair's decision but "entirely accepted his right to make it".

Shamed Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has managed to cling onto his position despite revelations of his affair with secretary Tracey Temple.

He will, however, lose his departmental responsibilities.

Mr Blair's spokesman said this had been discussed by the two men 12 months ago.

Mr Prescott will chair a "series of major Cabinet committees to deliver the efficient development of Government policy", said the spokesman.

He will also continue international work, with a focus on burgeoning economies such as China, and work on the environment in co-operation with the new Environment Secretary - yet to be appointed.

The reshuffle also saw Foreign Secretary Jack Straw demoted. He is now the new Leader of the House of Commons.

Mr Straw's move was said to have come after he made it clear to Mr Blair that after years at the Home Office and then the Foreign Office he wanted a different role.

Mr Straw will also have responsibility for House of Lords reform, party funding, and will chair the Cabinet's Constitutional Affairs Committee.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt, who has in recent weeks come under fire over comments she made about the NHS enjoying its best ever year, keeps her job.

Former Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has been appointed the new Secretary of Europe while Margaret Beckett is now minister with Responsibility for the Rest of the World.

John Reid will become the new Home Secretary.

Tessa Jowell keeps her job as Culture Minister, and Peter Hain remains Welsh Secretary.

Jacqui Smith replaces Hilary Armstrong as the new Labour chief whip.

John Hutton will remain Minister for Work and Pensions.

It was confirmed that Hazel Blears has become party chairman, Alistair Darling is moving to the DTI and Alan Johnson is the new education secretary.

Ruth Kelly, who was the education secretary, is to take over some of John Prescott's responsibilities covering communities and local government. The department will be renamed and restructured.

The promotion to Defence Secretary of Des Browne, a staunch ally of the Chancellor, will be seen as further evidence of the emergence of a Brownite court in the Government.

Cabinet ministers were called to an hour-long meeting with Tony Blair this morning to find out if they would keep their jobs following the reshuffle.

The Prime Minister called the meeting after Labour suffered a drubbing in local council elections.

In Labour's worst electoral bloodbath since Mr Blair came to power, the party is expected to have lost more than 250 councillors across England as well as control of more than a dozen town halls. Find out the result from your council with Mail online's local election results here

Meanwhile, jubilant Conservatives were claiming that they were set to break through the 40 per cent level in overall share of the vote and gain well over 200 seats.

Supporters of David Cameron hailed the result as a vindication of his decision to reshape the party since he won the leadership last December.

The disastrous results led to calls from Labour backbenchers for Mr Blair to set out a timetable to hand over the premiership to his presumed successor, Chancellor Gordon Brown.
what makes me laugh is the man thinks he's done nothing wrong...I personally thought it was a universally known law that if you are in a foreign country and you commit a crime there u will automatically be deported?'s not too much to ask is it?
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The public are increadibly p!ssed about that one

It appears from the BBC reports that Blair's butt wiping of Bush and the war has not had much of an impact on the election. Those reports do not emphasize the immigration problem but I do not doubt that what you are saying is true.
How are the Liberal Democrats so (screwed) over in these elections, even with FPTP you'd think they get more seats.

Even though I a UK-Labour Party supporter I think it's time for a change up and don't fear the Tory's taking power.
Finder, I think I've told you my WW1-Liberals theory before, they'll never get back in and add to that have an awful reputation at local government level, thats why they havent done so well this year.

However awful Labour are, the tories arent doing a huge amount better, it's actulally the BNP, UK Independance parties that have come out of this one laughing.
No Party Affiliation
Respect Party is doing well, too:

Respect breakthrough on Tower Hamlets Council

Respect dramatically won twelve seats on Tower Hamlets council .

In a very long night, Respect eclipsed the Liberal Democrats who were reduced to just four councillors from sixteen. New Labour lost its leader Michael Keith, deputy leader, mayor and several other cabinet members, including the controversial Cabinet member of housing David Edgar.

After a recount Oliur Rahman, who was the sitting Respect councillor in Stepney Green and St Dunstans, was re-elected to Tower Hamlets council, bringing the Respect group to a total of twelve councillors - one more than the BNP in Barking and Dagenham.

The elections in Tower Hamlets were marred by widespread voting fraud and results in a number of wards will now be closely scrutinised. In particular, Limehouse ward may have to be rerun. Respect won two seats in Limehouse and looks forward to winning three if a free and fair election were now to take place. Respect will also be going to court to force the rerun of the St Katharine's and Wapping ward where Respect candidates were excluded by the Returning Officer in a decision described by the Court of Appeal as unlawful.

Had the elections not been so flawed, Respect would have certainly won even more council seats as some Respect candidates failed to be elected by just tens of votes.

Elsewhere Salma Yaqoob was elected with 55% of the vote in Birmingham in another dramatic breakthrough.

In Newham the Respect mayoral candidate came second, forcing the Labour incumbent into a secound round ballot. We have subsequently won three seats on Newham council and polled very highly in other wards.
Yeah but Labour still gets a good amount of votes but no where near the amount of seats they should be picking up from their pop vote. It's too bad, I'd personally rather see a LDP government then a Tory if Labour were to lose the next general election.