Local election results 2014: A good night up west for Labour, but not much fun elsewhere
As many hard-fought battles in local elections concluded across the country, efforts to capture one particularly high-profile council spilled over into acrimony after Labour succeeded in ousting the Conservatives from control of Hammersmith and Fulham.
Both parties had poured huge resources into the west London authority, where campaigning focused on plans to shake up local hospitals.
In the end, Labour gained 11 seats from the Conservatives to secure a six-seat majority, putting the party in control of the council for the first time in eight years.
The Tory MP for Chelsea and Fulham, Greg Hands, the Government’s deputy chief whip, blamed the defeat on “Labour lies” about the future of Charing Cross Hospital. But Labour retorted that he was “sour grapes”, adding: “They voted Labour in David Cameron’s favourite council.”
Labour’s Swindon wilts
It has been a bad week for the Labour Party in Swindon, which had hopes of ending the Tories’ wafer-thin majority.
Ed Miliband, in an interview with BBC Wiltshire, was caught out over the identity of the local Labour leader and did not even seem to realise the authority was Conservative-controlled.
Then Swindon’s voters gave the party the thumbs-down, increasing the Tory majority on the council.
Emily Benn became the fifth generation of her family in public office when she was elected a councillor in Croydon.
The 24-year-old is the grand-daughter of Tony Benn, who died in March, and the niece of the former Cabinet minister Hilary Benn. She was the first 18-year-old to be adopted as a parliamentary candidate by any party after the minimum age was lowered from 21.
Councillor bows out
Mike Hancock’s 42-year spell on Portsmouth City Council came to an end amid allegations of sexual misconduct towards a female constituent. Suspended from the Liberal Democrat Party over the claims, which he denies, he stood as an independent unopposed by the Lib Dems, but was pushed into third place.
The Green Party enjoyed a steady but unspectacular performance. It picked up its seats in Bristol, Epping Forest, Nuneaton and Bedworth and gained three councillors on the Tory-run West Midlands authority of Solihull, where it is now the official opposition.
Natalie Bennett, its leader, said: “We are seeing progress right around the country. We’re becoming much more of a national party.”
Essex deserts Ed
Two years ago, following strong Labour gains in Essex, Ed Miliband paid a symbolic visit to the county. There was no such repeat today. Labour lost three seats in Thurrock, two in Basildon and two in Harlow, areas where the party needs to make gains in next year’s general election.
Last of the BNP
Brian Parker achieved a footnote in the history of the British National Party. He was its only councillor elected, clinging on by six votes in the Pendle, Lancashire.
Sun fails to shine
The combative former Editor of The Sun lost out in his bid for democratic office by just 42 votes. Kelvin Mackenzie stood as an independent for Elmbridge Borough Council but, despite his high public profile, he could not beat the Tories’ Simon Foale, who won with 811 votes.
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