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Page last updated at 09:54 GMT, Saturday, 3 May 2008 10:54 UK

Tory triumphs, Labour losses

Nick Watson
Nick Watson
Producer
Politics Show West Midlands

The Tories enjoyed a series of gains across the Midlands in this year's local elections leaving Labour with two local authorities.

Like dominoes they fell before a blue Tory tide. Nuneaton & Bedworth was the first to go followed by Wyre Forest and on Friday morning (May 2) Redditch and then Solihull also went blue.

So good were the results for David Cameron's party that they even managed to deprive Labour of overall control in previously rock-solid red Wolverhampton.

And in Birmingham they took six seats directly from Labour giving them 49 councillors - the most they have had in the Second City since 1984 - although still some way short of control.

David Cameron
There was a positive vote for a Conservative party that has modernised, that has changed for the better
David Cameron

Crumbs of comfort

The only (very) tiny crumbs of comfort for Gordon Brown came in Coventry where Labour took a seat from the Conservatives to make it a hung council and in Worcester, where they prevented the Tories from taking overall control.

With such an impressive clutch of gains it was no surprise to see Mr Cameron enjoying a victory rally in Nuneaton. It is after all the first time his party has run the council in this part of Warwickshire since it was created way back in 1974.

So what was the inspiration for such a dramatic breakthrough in what had previously been a traditional Labour area?

10p tax rate

Cllr Dennis Harvey, Labour
We are only lending the council to the Conservatives. We have lost on national issues
Cllr Dennis Harvey, Labour

"Clearly there were a lot of people who were very unhappy with Labour, very unhappy with the 10p tax rate, that wanted to protest," said Mr Cameron during his walkabout.

"But I also think that, looking at the scale of the Conservative gains around the country, there was a positive vote for a Conservative party that has modernised, that has changed for the better."

Councillor Dennis Harvey had led Nuneaton & Bedworth council for Labour for 20 years and was in no doubt where the blame for defeat should be laid.

"I'm going to have to get used to being called the Leader of the Opposition but we are only lending the council to the Conservatives. We have lost on national issues," he said.

BNP gains

The British National Party also picked up two seats in Nuneaton & Bedworth to compound Labour's misery.

The BNP also made three gains in Stoke-on-Trent to give them a total of nine councillors.

Cllr Roger Whyborn
The reality is, we will be running the council
Cllr Roger Whyborn, Lib Dem

It was another shocking result for Labour in the Potteries, where they lost seven seats in all including their group leader Mike Tappin - the third time Labour has lost its leader in the city in as many years.

For the Liberal Democrats it was a story of some modest gains being cancelled out by disappointing set-backs.

Share of power

Nick Clegg will be pleased to see that his party continues to do well in Cheltenham, where they are now the largest party on the council but not quite large enough to take overall control.

"The reality is that we will be running the council," said Liberal Democrat councillor Roger Whyborn.

"We shall have to wait and see how it works but we are very pleased to have moved from 17 to 20 seats," he added.

They remain the junior partner in Birmingham's ruling Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition but Mr Clegg will not be so pleased with the result in Solihull, which saw the Conservatives taking overall control.

Is it enough?

The big question now is do these results mean the Conservatives can make in-roads in this region at the next General Election?

In the after glow of last night's results things do look good for them.

But a General Election maybe as far as two years away. And with Labour having more than double the number of Conservative MPs in this region, David Cameron still has plenty to do if he is to turn good local election results into power at Westminster.

This Sunday Our Political Editor Patrick Burns will report live from Wyre Forest and we will be joined live in the studio by Caroline Spelman MP (Con), Lynda Waltho MP (Lab) and Lorely Burt MP (Lib Dem) to hear their thoughts

The Politics Show for the West Midlands, with Jon Sopel and Michael Collie on Sunday 04 May, at 1200 BST on BBC One

If you have an issue you would like us to follow up then please write to the producer of the show: Nick Watson, BBC Politics Show, The Mailbox, Birmingham, B1 1RF or email nicholas.watson@bbc.co.uk

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