Wandsworth, the site of Labour’s sensational overnight win, was one of few councils to change hands. Overall, the fortunes of the parties varied geographically as votes from the first English councils were counted.
Although the Conservatives lost close to 100 seats, and control of some key councils, this didn’t translate into a completely triumphant night for Labour.
Conservative losses in the south of England were largely to the Lib Dems and other parties, most notably the Greens. Labour made ground in the East but lost vote share in every other part of the UK apart from London.
Although the results were disappointing for Labour and its leader Sir Keir Starmer, they may be encouraged by the results in specific councils, like Wandsworth and Cumberland.
Wandsworth had been in Tory hands since 1978, and Labour’s victory there reflects its increasing electoral dominance in the capital – where it also won Barnet and recorded a shock victory in Westminster.
This chart shows how far ahead the Conservatives were throughout recent decades.
Cumberland is a new council, formed from Allerdale, Carlisle and Copeland, so it’s not right to call it a Labour gain. But the Conservatives were the biggest party in two of those three former councils and crucially have all three MPs in the area.
It’s important to remember that the last time these seats were contested was 2018, when Labour polled relatively well.
That was a year before Labour suffered bad losses in the “red wall” – the name given to constituencies in the north and midlands – at the 2019 general election.
By recording a similar amount of support in those areas as they did in 2018, there is a hint that Labour could start to claw back some of those constituencies in a general election and deprive the Conservatives of their majority.
In Wolverhampton, for example, there was no change overnight in the number of council seats under Labour control, but their vote share is increased compared to the general election and last year’s locals.
They would have taken both Wolverhampton constituencies from the Conservatives if this was a general election.
The Labour performance in neighbouring Sandwell indicates that they would also have gained one of two seats in West Bromwich.
Based on the results so far, they would still be some way from challenging for an outright Commons win, however.
Brexit vote trends still relevant
Since the EU referendum in 2016 we’ve become used to dramatic shifts in voting patterns. It seems from today’s results that those trends at least have become a bit more predictable.
Sky News analysis of hundreds of ward results shows that the Tories are still increasing their share of the vote in areas where more people voted to Leave the EU.
The Lib Dems are making gains at Conservative expense in seats, especially in the south, where more people went to university. And Labour are performing better in city areas, especially London.