Labour becomes largest party in UK local government after 2023 English elections

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

A map of the results:

██ Labour victory

██ Conservative victory

██ Liberal Democrat victory

██ Green victory

██ Northern Ireland elections scheduled for May 18

██ No overall control

██ No election

Image: Mirrorme22.

Surpassing the Conservatives, Labour became the largest party in UK local government Friday after Thursday's local elections in England.

The party had been in the minority in local government since 2002.

Elections occurred for 230 local government authorities, marking the first time all these seats had been contested since 2019.

Comparing the results to those in 2019, the BBC and Sky News reported the Conservatives lost over 1,000 councillors; the PA news agency reported that removing those who left the party between elections meant they had lost 960 councillors. PA reported Labour gains of 635 seats, with the Liberal Democrats flipping 416 and the Green Party 200.

Conservatives gained control of two authorities but lost 45. Labour lost control of the Slough Borough Council but flipped 19 authorities. The Green Party achieved their best local election results ever, winning control of an English authority - Mid Suffolk - for the first time.

Authorities suspended voting in the Coxford ward of the Southampton City Council following the death of the Conservative candidate on polling day, with the Council promising a new poll within 35 working days.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer posited if the party rebounded in Scotland, it would win a majority in the next Parliament election. Addressing supporters in Medway — whose local government Labour won for the first time since 1998 — Starmer said: "Make no mistake, we are on course for a Labour majority at the next general election".

Conservative UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called the results "disappointing", but he was "not detecting any massive groundswell of movement towards the Labour Party or excitement for its agenda".

Local authorities up for election in 2023 by type:

██ Metropolitan borough

██ Unitary authority

██ District councils in England

██ District councils in Northern Ireland

██ No election

Image: Mirrorme22.

A Labour Party spokesperson described the result as "a clear rejection of a prime minister who never had a mandate to begin with".

Councils oversee services, such as state schools and highway maintenance.

11 council elections in Northern Ireland are scheduled for May 18.

Sky News Election Analyst Michael Thrasher said, if repeated across the country at a general election, these results would create a hung parliament; Labour would be the biggest party, then the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats third.

Liberal Democrats leader Sir Ed Davey said: "It's little wonder Rishi Sunak is running scared of a general election, because he knows we are set to take swathes of seats across the Conservative Party's former heartlands".