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Last Updated: Friday, 2 May, 2003, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Tory gains as Labour loses Birmingham
Iain Duncan Smith
Results to smile about?
The Conservatives have claimed success in this year's English local elections with Labour losing a series of high profile seats including Birmingham.

Labour lost overall control of the West Midlands city for the first time since 1983 in what will be seen as a big blow for the party.

The party lost eight seats to the Liberal Democrats and three to the Tories in a result that may in part indicate anger among some Muslim voters over Tony Blair's stance on war with Iraq.

Labour also lost Coventry after 25 years of controlling the city but they took Sheffield back from the Liberal Democrats.

The Tories gained 565 council seats across England and Scotland, compared with Labour losing 839 seats and the Lib Dems gaining more than 200.

Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said: "This is a spectacular victory for the tens of thousands of local Conservatives who have campaigned tirelessly on local issues across the country.

"The Labour Party have had their worst result since the winter of discontent in 1979."

Conservative local government spokesman Eric Pickles said: "We now are the largest party in England as far as local government is concerned, we are probably going to take 20 councils tonight.

"We have done spectacularly well."

Labour losses
Redcar and Cleveland
Hyndburn
Birmingham
Chesterfield
Coventry
Rochdale
Erewash
Trafford
Rossendale
Bristol
East Staffordshire
Bolton
Castle Point
North East Lincolnshire
Mansfield
Broxtowe
Durham City
Cannock Chase
High Peak
Thanet
Kettering
Vale Royal
Forest of Dean
High Peak
North Warwickshire
Allerdale
Ashfield
Brighton and Hove
Dartford
Derby
Dudley
Exeter
Luton
Northampton
Wellingborough
Charles Kennedy's Liberal Democrats took heart after gaining control of 11 councils and making in-roads in some traditional Labour areas.

They also seemed to be matching Labour with a 30% share of the vote, but lost control of seven councils.

The Tories had a projected 35% share of the vote.

The Green Party gained 16 seats but have lost four.

The far-right British National Party managed to establish itself as the second biggest party in Burnley although it failed to win any seats in Sunderland where it ran 25 candidates.

They also gained two seats in Sandwell, one in Stoke-on-Trent and one in Broxbourne, but party leader Nick Griffin failed to win a seat in Oldham.

Mid-term test?

Labour also lost control of Bristol, Rochdale, Trafford, Rossendale, Exeter, Rossendale, Broxtowe and Bolton.

They lost East Staffordshire to the Tories who also won through in Congleton, Worcester, Basildon, Stratford-upon-Avon and Taunton Deane.

Tory gains
Tynedale
Aylesbury Vale
Dacorum
Fylde
Guildford
East Staffordshire
Congleton
Worcester
Stratford-upon-Avon
Basildon
Taunton Deane
Castle Point
Mendip
South Kesteven
St Edmundsbury
Mid Suffolk
Salisbury
South Oxfordshire
Poole
Ribble Valley
Stafford
Thanet
Ashford
Medway
Kettering
South Holland
Hinckley & Bosworth
Erewash
Chelmsford
Cotswold
King's Lynn & West Norfolk
Melton
Mid Suffolk
Selby
Scarborough
Tonbridge & Malling
West Dorset
Hyndburn
Wellingborough
Rutland
Up for grabs were more than 10,000 seats on 340 councils - the largest test of public opinion between the last and next general election.

Polling has also been held to the Scottish Parliament and local authorities and the Welsh Assembly.

Taken together, the contests are the nearest thing to a "mid-term" election in the British political system.

Labour Party chairman Ian McCartney tried to play down Labour's poor showing.

"There's not a government in history that has not had a bad mid-term, even as good a government as this one," he said.

"The question was could the Conservatives in mid-term under Iain Duncan Smith do as well as William Hague and the answer to that is they failed dismally," he told the BBC Radio 4 programme.

But Tory chairman Theresa May told the same programme: "We have got well over 500 extra councillors, we look as though we are on course for over 600 extra councillors.

Lib Dem gains
Torbay
Watford
Chesterfield
Durham City
North Norfolk
Windsor and Maidenhead Royal
York
Waverley
Shepway
Bournemouth
Uttlesford
"This is a very good result for us. What we now see up and down the country is Conservatives in a better position than they were yesterday We have made excellent gains."

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Matthew Taylor told the programme: "The truth is the Conservative Party has been flatlining. The only reason they have made gains is that Labour are down.

"Of course they benefit from that in some areas, but the vote has actually gone not to the Conservatives but to the Liberal Democrats.

"It is our best ever result in local council elections. We have never had 30% before, equal with the Labour Party."




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Mark Mardell
"Certainly Iain Duncan Smith does have reasons to be cheerful"



SEE ALSO:
Did Muslim vote cost Labour?
02 May 03  |  Politics



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