Big Tory losses and another Oldham leader deposed: your essential local elections briefing
'I think Amanda Chadderton might be gone'
Dear Millers — the country has a new monarch on the throne and, perhaps more importantly, Greater Manchester has hundreds of newly-elected councillors waiting to be sworn in.
You can get your fill of coronation coverage elsewhere, including a scintillating account from the MEN of what a lip reader claims Prince Harry might have said as he arrived at the service (‘As Harry entered the Abbey, he greeted a number of guests, saying "hello", "morning" and "nice to see you" to various people’).
But what do we have to offer you on coronation day? It is our solemn duty to bring you the outcome of Thursday’s local elections, including:
Another deposed council leader in Oldham — and we tell you who is tipped to replace her
Labour gets shown up by the independents in Stockport as the Tories disappear from the map
The Conservatives lose their grip on Bolton as Labour’s leader tells us about his plan to take over
And some interesting gains for the Lib Dems and Greens in Manchester, which now has the semblance of an opposition
Yesterday Jack and Mollie spent the day speaking to key figures at local counts and hammering the phones with sources across the city to build up a picture of how these elections have changed the political makeup of Greater Manchester. Here goes…
The overall picture
Across the country, these were a very bad set of elections for the Conservatives, who have now lost more than 1,000 council seats. “As the day went on, [the] Tory bloodbath only grew grimmer,” says The Times, which reports:
A few days earlier senior government figures had been congratulating themselves on setting a media narrative that a poor night for the Conservatives would be the loss of up to a thousand seats. Privately they never expected it to be that bad — about 600 was their baseline assumption — but as the results started coming it quickly became apparent that they had misjudged.
Given that the Conservatives didn’t have many councillors in Greater Manchester to start with, the local results don’t look quite as dramatic as the national ones. But now that the dust has settled, we can pick out some interesting storylines.
Let’s kick off with a handy graph made by our data reporter Daniel Timms showing the new composition of all the councils. After the results in Bolton, Labour is now the largest party in nine out of the ten Greater Manchester boroughs, with the Lib Dems just shy of a majority in Stockport.
As you can tell by looking at the line down the middle of the graph, eight of the boroughs are in full Labour control because the party has a majority of seats whereas Bolton and Stockport are in “no overall control” and will likely be led by the biggest party.
Scores on the doors
Here are the numbers showing how this week’s elections have changed the composition of our local councils. Overall, it was clearly a bad night for the Tories — they lost ground in seven boroughs and disappeared entirely in Stockport. With an eye on the next General Election, Labour will be pleased about their progress in boroughs like Bolton, Bury and Rochdale in particular, places where the party needs to retake so-called “Red Wall” seats if it wants to win a majority in parliament.
Manchester: LAB 88 (down 3), LD 4 (up 2), GRN 4 (up 1)
Salford: LAB 49, CON 8, LD 2, IND 1 (no change)
Trafford: LAB 41 (up 1), CON 10 (down 3), GRN 6 (up 2), LD 6 (up 1)
Stockport: LD 30 (up 2), LAB 24 (up 2), IND 6 (down 1), GRN 3 (up 1) CON 0 (down 4)
Tameside: LAB 51 (up 4), CON 6 (down 2), IND 0 (down 1) GRN 0 (down 1)
Oldham: LAB 32 (down 3), CON 11 (up 2), LD 10 (up 1), IND 7 (no change)
Rochdale: LAB 46 (up 3), CON 9 (down 1), LD 3, IND 2 (down 2)
Bury: LAB 31 (up 3), CON 11 (down 1), IND 9 (down 1), LD 0 (down 1)
Bolton: LAB 26 (up 7), CON 17 (down 9), IND 11 (up 1), LD 6 (up 1)
Wigan: LAB 64 (up 3), IND (up 2), CON 2 (down 5)
Here are the top five storylines that emerged from the elections…
1. Conservative collapse in Bolton means Labour are set to take over
“The Tories have been fundamentally rejected in Bolton,” says local Labour leader Nick Peel, who will likely now become the leader of the one council in Greater Manchester that has been Conservative-run in recent years. Labour are now back in the driving seat. Well, sort of. They might have the most seats on the council (26), but that still isn’t a majority.
As ever in Bolton, hyperlocal parties in the borough representing single wards were a thorn in the side of both Labour and the Tories. “The only disappointment with the night is that we didn’t break the independents,” says Peel, “we wanted to beat the independents because they were the Tory enablers”.
“Some of the hyperlocals make a good contribution,” Bolton’s Conservative council leader Martyn Cox told us, “but if a town has too many ‘first’ parties, where they put their area first, you can’t really run the town, can you? Because not every area comes first. One group has to govern on behalf of the whole town.”
Speaking to Channel 4, Cox pointed to recent Westminster drama in his party. "If you're going to swap Prime Ministers two or three times, the electorate don't like it,” he said. “They don't understand it. And they generally go out to punish parties that do that."
For the past four years, Labour have campaigned on the idea that Bolton’s multiple hyperlocals, working in coalition with the Tories, have propped up a “lame duck” council. Peel told The Mill he will not be seeking a similar arrangement now his party holds the most seats. He says he plans to approach the Lib Dems and hyperlocal One Kearsley to back a Labour administration.
“No coalitions, no deals,” says Peel. “We’ll be saying: this is our manifesto, can you get on board with it?” They’ll meet next week.
2. Tories disappear from the map in Stockport as an expelled councillor gets revenge on Labour
“We were expecting it to be kind of tough,” says Mike Hurleston, leader of the Stockport Conservative group. “Obviously, the worst case scenario has happened.” He’s not exaggerating. The Tories in Stockport lost their four remaining council seats, with the Liberal Democrats retaining minority control of the council just shy of a majority.
It’s the first time the Tories have had no representation on the council since it was formed in 1973. It bodes very poorly for the party at the next General Election, where they are defending two marginal seats against the Lib Dems in Hazel Grove and Cheadle.
And what happened in Edgeley and Cheadle Heath, where we’ve reported recently on the bitter battle between Labour and Matt Wynne, the councillor who was acrimoniously kicked out of the party by what he describes as an orchestrated campaign by members of the Corbnite left?
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