[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 5 May 2006, 18:51 GMT 19:51 UK
Labour suffers local poll losses
Pauline and John Prescott
Prescott headlines may have impacted on the campaign
Tony Blair has suffered a bad night in England's local elections with Labour losing more than 300 councillors.

The main winners were the Tories, who had their best results since 1992. The Lib Dems failed to make much headway.

Elsewhere the BNP doubled its councillors, including winning 11 seats from Labour in Barking. The Greens and Respect also made gains.

The prime minister has reshuffled his Cabinet to try to regain momentum after days of bad headlines.

The projected vote share if the polls were held nationwide shows the Tories on 40%, Lib Dems 27% and Labour 26%. Turnout is estimated at 36% - down three points from 2004.

2006 ENGLISH ELECTIONS
Labour losses: Newcastle-under-Lyme, Derby, Stoke-on-Trent, Bury, Redditch, Barrow-in-Furness, Warrington, Crawley, Lewisham, Bexley, Merton, Hammersmith and Fulham, Croydon
Tory gains: Shrewsbury and Atcham, Crawley, Mole Valley, Hillingdon, Harrow, Coventry, Ealing
Tory losses: West Lindsey, Gosport
Lib Dem gains: St Albans, South Lakeland
Lib Dem losses: Milton Keynes, Islington
BNP: Won 11 seats in Barking and Dagenham
Greens: Gained 14 seats, including four in Norwich

The result is one of the worst on record for Labour at a local election - and its worst share of the vote in an election since the early 1980s.

The party said the poll did not produce the "meltdown" some had predicted.

Nevertheless it did lose 319 councillors and control of a string of key councils including Camden in London, which it has controlled for 35 years. The borough went to no overall control and the Liberal Democrats are now the largest party there.

There were a series of calls for a change of leadership from within the party.

Ex-health secretary Frank Dobson said there should be a "new management".

The Conservatives gained 317 councillors and took control of councils across London and the South-East, but failed to make hoped-for gains in Northern cities such as Liverpool, Newcastle and Manchester.

'Conservatives in disguise'

Labour has faced widespread criticism in recent weeks.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's personal life hit the headlines, while Charles Clarke - who was sacked as home secretary following the elections - was attacked because over revelations of foreign criminals living in the UK.

The Labour leader of the city council in Stoke-on-Trent fired a parting shot after losing his seat.

Mick Salih said leading party figures were "arrogant" and that Labour had become "the Conservatives in disguise".

Chancellor Gordon Brown said the results were a "warning shot" for the government and that the party had to "renew" itself to deal with the challenges of the future.

He indicated he would be talking to the prime minister at the weekend about the way forward.

"We have got to show we are listening to people's concerns and we are going to respond to them," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

He said the government had suffered a bad two weeks leading up to the poll and there were problems that had to be sorted out "immediately".

"We have now got to renew ourselves as a party to deal with the challenges ahead," said Mr Brown.

But he denied any knowledge of a supposed petition by backbenchers calling for Mr Blair to step down immediately, pledging a "unified and orderly" transition of power.

Following the election results, the prime minister moved forward a Cabinet reshuffle originally planned for Monday.

Among the major changes, Margaret Beckett replaced Jack Straw as Foreign Secretary, while Charles Clarke was sacked as Home Secretary, to be replaced by John Reid.

Tory victories

Conservative leader David Cameron said that overall the results were "very pleasing" and "far beyond what we expected", although he acknowledged they had work to do in cities like Manchester and Newcastle.

"There's plenty more to do, and plenty more change to be made and work to be done, but I think this is a very important step forward," he told BBC Radio 4's Today.

ELECTION SCOREBOARD
  Councillors Councils  
PARTY +/- TOT +/- TOT  
CON
316
1830
11
68
LAB
-319
1439
-17
30
LD
2
909
1
13
OTH
-2
240
0
0
NOC
-
-
6
66
After 176 of 176 councils
NOC = No control

Labour lost overall control of 18 councils, including Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire and Bury in Greater Manchester, and Lewisham, Merton and Camden in London. It has gained Lambeth.

The Conservatives have gained Crawley, Ealing, Bexley and Hammersmith and Fulham from Labour, as well as winning Croydon, Bassetlaw and Mole Valley but they lost West Lindsey District Council in Lincolnshire and Gosport in Hampshire.

There was a mixed night for the Lib Dems, who won Richmond, South Lakeland and St Albans, but lost control of Islington and Milton Keynes.

Party leader Sir Menzies Campbell said he was not down-hearted adding: "This wasn't a test for me, it was a test for the party after the difficulties of the earlier part of this year. I think we have come through this test."

Among the smaller parties, the Greens gained 20 seats, with particular success in Norwich. The UK Independence Party has won a seat in Hartlepool. George Galloway's anti-war Respect won 11 seats in Tower Hamlets, up from just one.

In addition to winning 11 seats in Barking, the BNP took three in Sandwell, three in Epping Forest and one in Pendle. In total the party gained 27 more councillors.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
David Cameron's reaction to the Tories' election gains




PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific