Huge Labour gains leave Coalition with identity crisis

Conservatives and Liberal Democrats blame each other as both parties take a drubbing in the local elections

A battered David Cameron and Nick Clegg will try to halt an outbreak of infighting between the two Coalition parties after both suffered heavy losses in the local elections.

Click HERE to view 'State of the nation' graphic

Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians turned on each other as Labour emerged as the big winner from Thursday's contests in 180 authorities. Labour gained more than 820 seats, beating expectations, the Tories lost more than 400 and the Lib Dems lost more than 330. Ed Miliband's party won 38 per cent of the vote, the Conservatives 31 per cent, the Lib Dems 16 per cent and other parties 15 per cent – with smaller parties and independent candidates performing well. The turnout was a disappointing 32 per cent.

Some of the shine was taken off Labour's triumph late last night when Boris Johnson narrowly defeated Labour's Ken Livingstone to win another four-year term as Mayor of London. The result was closer than opinion polls had suggested, with Mr Johnson winning 51.53 per cent and Mr Livingstone 48.47 per cent after he gave the Tories a last-minute fright. The result was delayed for several hours amid farcical scenes after two boxes of uncounted ballot papers were discovered.

In the short term, Mr Johnson's victory gave Mr Cameron a much-needed fillip and prevented a clean sweep by Labour. But in the medium term, Mr Johnson could emerge as an election-winning "king over the water" and potential leadership rival to Mr Cameron. Tory MPs hailed Mr Johnson as a "real Tory" with greater nationwide appeal than Mr Cameron. One said: "Cameron doesn't play north of The Wash."

Tensions in the Coalition are high. Mr Clegg made clear he would block Tory demands for the Government to shift to a more traditional Conservative agenda – and the dumping of plans to legalise gay marriage and reform the House of Lords. Liberal Democrats hit back, saying Lords reform was not an issue on the doorsteps – but that many voters were angry about George Osborne's decision to cut the 50p top rate of tax.

One Lib Dem source told The Independent: "The Tory voices demanding a lurch to the right demonstrate that the Lib Dems are anchoring the Coalition in the centre ground of British politics. That is where it will stay."

The Prime Minister and his deputy will make a joint appearance on Tuesday to try to show that the Coalition remains strong – and committed to reducing the deficit. They will promise measures in the Queen's Speech the following day to ease the pressures facing hard-pressed families. Despite the slide back into recession, they will rule out a Plan B, arguing that slowing the cuts would put economic recovery at risk.

Their initiative will be a much more sober affair than the Coalition's "love-in" in Downing Street's Rose Garden two years ago. They are expected to hold a question-and-answer session at a manufacturing firm in Essex.

Mr Cameron shelved plans for a Cabinet reshuffle to form part of his fightback after a dismal six weeks since the Budget. Ministers had been put on standby for a shake-up next Thursday but it is now likely to be delayed until after the London Olympics.

Amid a backlash from his party, the Prime Minister came under pressure to rein in the Lib Dems. Senior right-wingers David Davis and John Redwood will issue an "alternative Queen's Speech" reflecting traditional Conservative values, calling for an end to "wind-turbine Toryism".

But Tim Farron, the Lib Dem president, replied that it would be "bonkers" for the Coalition to "lurch to the right." Lord Oakeshott, the party's former Treasury spokesman, warned: "What matters is whether we can fight the next election as a nationwide, powerful, independent force, and if we have another year like this, we won't be able to."

Mr Cameron said the Government was "taking difficult decisions". Mr Clegg added: "We will continue to play our role in rescuing, repairing and reforming the British economy."

Labour beat off a threatened advance by the Scottish National Party in Glasgow. Mr Miliband claimed Labour was winning people's trust. He said: "This Government promised change and it has made things worse, not better."

At a glance: Key election results

* Labour have gained control of 32 councils, while the Conservatives have lost 12 and the Liberal Democrats one

* The Conservatives lost 405 seats, the Liberal Democrats lost 336 seats, while Labour gained 823

* The projected share of the vote put Labour at 38 per cent, Conservatives at 31 per cent and Liberal Democrats at 16 per cent

* Boris Johnson led after first votes were counted in the London mayoral election. Ken Livingstone was second, followed by the Greens' Jenny Jones, Liberal Democrat Brian Paddick and Independent Siobhan Benita

* Labour made significant gains in Wales, regaining control of Cardiff

* In Scotland, Labour held off an expected SNP surge to win an overall majority in Glasgow

* Turnout nationally was 32 per cent – the lowest since 2000

* Labour's Joe Anderson became Liverpool's first elected mayor

Boris Johnson passes the winning post – but it was no easy ride to victory
'Red Ken' finally reaches the end of the line
Clegg punished with his party's worst-ever results
MPs turn fire on Cameron after dismal showing
Labour takes power across the country – and Miliband tightens grip on his party
Leading article: A good result, but Labour must beware a false dawn
Steve Richards: Labour (and Ed Miliband) are no longer doomed
Andrew Grice: Bruised and battered, Clegg will struggle to sell Coalition relaunch
Professor John Curtice: Labour's making progress, but it's still some way from No 10
Chris Bryant: The naked and the dead – just a couple of the things you meet while canvassing
Galloway's Respect wins in Bradford again
'Chipping Norton set' desert the Tories
Cities reject Cameron's dream of mayors for all
Salmond setback as Scots nationalists fail in Glasgow

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
Dominique Alderweireld, also known as Dodo de Saumure, is the owner of a string of brothels in Belgium
newsPhilip Sweeney gets the inside track on France's trial of the year
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lift Repairs Sales Account Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting new opportunity has...

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

£21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

Ashdown Group: Assistant Management Accountant - Part Qualified CIMA / ACCA

£30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: We are recruitment for an Assistan...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea