The Conservatives pulled off a shock by-election victory, and took control of several councils in England, with many results yet to be announced.
After bumper set of elections yesterday, including devolved parliamentary seats in Scotland and Wales, mayoral races in England and Police and Crime Commissioners, the government has enjoyed a series of successful results.
However, it was a night to forget for Labour with council seats lost across England and a humiliating by-election defeat in Hartlepool.
Here’s a round-up of how the day unfolded – for the latest results, go to National World’s politics section.
Local Elections 2021: Results and reactions as Hartlepool turns blue and Labour loses council seats across England
Last updated: Friday, 07 May, 2021, 16:24
A not-so-super Thursday for Labour
Hartlepool has elected a Conservative to represent the town in parliament for the first time in 62 years, and by a decisive margin.
Labour’s Paul Williams was only able to attract 8589 votes to the Conservative’s 15529, meaning what was not long ago considered a safe-seat for Labour now has a Conservative majority of almost 7000.
Look back through the history books and you will find few results comparable to this one. Not only did the governing party make a by-election gain - which has only happened a handful of times since WW2 - but they did so having been in power for 11 years, and with one of the largest by-election swings in modern political history, around 16 per cent.
Elsewhere in England, things don’t look much better for Labour.
With the bulk of results yet to be announced for council elections, those which have declared haven’t held good news for Labour. They’ve lost control of a council while the Tories have gained control of four.
Doncaster’s Labour Mayor Ros Jones held onto her role, albeit with a reduced vote-share, but the big mayoral results are yet to come, with all eyes on the Tees Valley and West Midlands contests, where Conservative candidates achieved shock victories in 2017 and will be hoping to solidify their positions.
If the signs from the rest of the country are anything to go by, these contests may prove to be less competitive than initially expected.
What happened in Hartlepool?
You can expect most of the news-agenda to be dominated by the story in Hartlepool this morning, and its not hard to see why. Anyone who has spent time on the ground in the crucial battleground seat over the last month would have told you that the contest was going to be tight - and indeed, this reporter called a surprise Conservative win some weeks ago.
But the scale of Labour’s defeat has shocked many.
What caused it? Don’t believe anyone who tells you there is a simple answer.
Particularly if that answer is Brexit, Boris Johnson, Keir Starmer or Jeremy Corbyn.
You can read my verdict on the result, but here’s the short version: people voted for what they thought would bring positive change.
They weren’t swayed by national talking-points. Long term demographic and social trends have way more to do with the result than, as Lord Mandelson has been telling anyone who will listen this morning, the party ‘picking the wrong brother’ back in 2015.
Hartlepool reactions from Labour
Like everything else in the world, in Labour-land, this result has been interpreted as vindication for the factional beliefs held by different parts of the party before it was announced. For those on the left, it is entirely the fault of Keir Starmer, whose lack of clear vision and “valueless flag waving” in place of real policies meant that voters were left with little reason not to vote Tory.
Hartlepool reactions from Labour, continued
And for those on the right of the party, this is all Jeremy Corbyn’s fault.
Despite the party’s candidate telling NationalWorld and many others that the party’s divisive former leader didn’t come up at all on the doorstep, others in the party have been keen to pin this one on Corbyn.
Former Hartlepool MP and New Labour luminary Lord Mandelson blamed the result on “Covid and Corbyn”, and has also said the party “picked the wrong brother” back in 2015.
During the time I spent in Hartlepool reporting on this election I didn’t speak to everyone, but of the many people I did speak to not a single one mentioned David Milliband.
Of all the people you thought would be offering thoughtful, balanced analysis on Labour’s issues after Hartlepool, ex chief of staff to Theresa May, Gavin Barwell, must have been quite low down the list.
The Rt Hon. Jill Mortimer speaks
Despite a relatively lacklustre campaign, Jill Mortimer will be Hartlepool’s next MP.
Mortimer will be the first woman ever to represent the constituency in Parliament. In her acceptance speech, she thanked her team before saying that people have voted for change, after Labour has taken them for granted.
Round here, they weigh the Conservative vote, rather than count it
It was often said of places like Hartlepool, which voted in Labour MPs to parliament reliably for decades, that on election night they didn’t count the Labour vote, they weighed it.
But even before the tallies were announced early this morning, it was fairly evident from the size of their respective piles that Jill Mortimer has comfortable beaten Dr Paul Williams to take the seat
Jeremy Corbyn: ‘We must offer a bolder vision'
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has tweeted his reaction to the awful results coming through for his party in the local elections and Hartlepool by-election.
First results from Holyrood election come in
The first declaration from the Holyrood election has been declared, with the Lib Dems holding the Orkney constituency.
MSP Liam McArthur will return to Holyrood to represent the safe seat, claiming 7,238 votes.
The SNP followed in second place, trailed by the Conservatives and Scottish Labour.
In total, 11,621 votes – including spoiled papers – were cast in the election, 65% of the electorate.
First Welsh Senedd result in
Conservative Russell George has been re-elected in Montgomeryshire, polling just over 12,000 votes, 48% of the total, with a 7,528 majority over Plaid Cymru’s Elwyn Vaughan.
Scotland’s Deputy First Minister keeps his seat
Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney has retained his seat in Perthshire North, polling a total of 19,860 votes and extending his majority over the Conservatives.
Tory candidate Murdo Fraser came in second with 15,807 votes, followed by Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
Mr Swinney said he was “absolutely over the moon” to be re-elected to the Scottish Parliament again.
SNP maintains narrow hold in Banffshire and Buchan
SNP candidate Karen Adam has narrowly retained the party’s seat in the Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency, securing 14,920 votes - just ahead of the 14,148 votes for the Tories’ Mark Findlater.
In 2016, the SNP’s lead in the seat was 6,683 - now narrowed to just 772.
In third place was Labour, followed by the Liberal Democrats.
Nicola Sturgeon keeps Glasgow Southside seat
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has retained her Glasgow Southside constituency in the Scottish Parliament election.
The First Minister played down chances of an overall SNP majority earlier in the day, saying:
“A majority has always been a very, very long shot – the Holyrood system is a proportional representation system, in 2011 we effectively broke that system.
“It would be good to do but I have never taken that for granted, that has always been on a knife edge – a small number of votes in a small number of seats – so we’ll wait and see how the votes will pan out over today and tomorrow.
“At this stage … I’m feeling extremely happy and extremely confident that we’re on track in the SNP for a fourth consecutive election victory and to have the ability to form a government again.
“That’s an extraordinary achievement for any political party and if that is how the results end, and that is how the election turns out, then I’ll be ready and eager to get back to work on behalf of the people of Scotland.”
Starmer: Hartlepool result was ‘bitterly disappointing'
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said that he will do “whatever it takes” to rebuild trust in the party following its “bitterly disappointing” by-election defeat in Hartlepool.
Starmer: ‘We have not made a strong enough case to the country'
Sir Keir Starmer
“Very often we have been talking to ourselves instead of to the country and we have lost the trust of working people, particularly in places like Hartlepool. I intend to do whatever is necessary to fix that.
“This is not a question of left or right, it is a question of whether we’re facing the country.
“We have changed as a party. We have not made a strong enough case to the country.”