In modern circumstances one party seldom emerges as the clear victor in any round of local elections. This year one did.Conservative triumph:
By any reasonable measure, the Conservatives won decisively on Thursday. It was their first unqualified electoral triumph in nearly a generation.
Significantly, the Conservatives won 40 per cent of the BBC's projected national share of the vote - the proportion of people who, it is estimated, would have voted Conservative if the local elections had been held across the whole of the country.Conservative urban successes:
A figure of 40 per cent is the highest the Conservatives have scored since 1992, the year in which they last won a general election.
The Conservative performance also gives the lie to the notion that the Tories have been driven out of the whole of urban Britain outside London.Labour disaster:
To be sure, the Tories failed to make hoped-for gains in Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle but they won additional seats in Birmingham as well as gaining control of Coventry and Chorley.
Some Labour MPs have protested that the results were not too bad. If they believe that, they are the victims of their own pre-election talking down of expectations.Lib Dems fared badly:
A disaster is no less disastrous for having been widely predicted.
The Liberal Democrats fared neither well nor badly - which means that, in effect, they fared badly because their electoral credibility depends on their continuing to gain ground, especially in local elections. They now stand where they did a decade ago.BNP warning:
The BNP's successes undoubtedly reflect widespread disenchantment with large-scale immigration and the Government's alleged neglect of the white working class. But as of now, the party constitutes a warning, not a serious threat.More work for the Conservatives:
The election results also contain a different kind of warning for the Tory party. Although the Tories did gain some ground in the North, they gained considerably less ground than in either the midlands or the South.
Given that the Conservatives are no longer a significant electoral force in most of Scotland and Wales, they have no option but to expand their English electoral base, including in the large northern cities.
However favourable these election results are, the Tories under David Cameron still have work to do.