Conservative activists are celebrating after the party made significant gains in yesterday’s local council elections in England and Wales.

They won a projected 44% of the national vote. The Lib Dems on 25% beat Labour, on 24%, into third place.

“It’s clear to me that this has been a disappointing night, indeed a bad night for Labour,” said Gordon Brown.The decision to abolish the 10p rate of tax is being cited by government ministers as a doorstep issue that harmed their core vote. 

“I think people want to be assured, and indeed people are questioning and want to be assured, that the government will steer them through these difficult times,” said the Prime Minister. 

“The test of leadership is not what happens in a period of success but what happens in difficult circumstances.”  

More than 4,000 seats were contested in yesterday’s election, and two thirds of the votes have been counted.

The Tories already have 200 new councillors and have won control of 12 councils, among them the Vale of Glamorgan, Southampton and Bury, a significant gain in the North of England.

It was the worst election result for Labour since 1968.
 
 

 

Their vote fell most heavily in their traditional heartlands. With results still coming in, they have lost more than 220 councillors and control of 8 councils.

Blaenau Gwent, Flintshire, Merthyr Tydfil, Torfaen in Wales all voted Labour out of power. Hartlepool and Reading in England followed suit.

The Tories won control of Nuneaton and Bedworth from Labour as well as Reading and Basingstoke and Deane.

The Lib Dems said they were pleased they managed to shore up their vote amid protest votes against the government and a Tory resurgence.

They gained St Albans, Burnley and Kingston upon Hull but lost control of Liverpool and Pendle.

The Tories are jubilant about taking control of North Tyneside, a sign that they are capable of winning in northern urban seats.

“This is a very big moment for the Conservative Party,” said David Cameron, the party leader.”I don’t want anyone to think that we would deserve to win an election on the back of a failing government.

“I want us to really prove to people that we can make the changes that they want to see, in terms of schools and hospitals and crime and the other issues that really matter to all of us.

“That’s what I’m going to devote myself and my party to over the next few months.”