Partial results show Labour set to lose ground in regional elections but London mayoral election may be lone bright spot for party.
LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (MAY 6, 2016) (ITN) – Britain’s main opposition Labour Party lost less ground than expected in local elections on Friday (May 6) and was leading the race for London’s mayor, giving new leader Jeremy Corbyn enough ammunition to brush off his critics.
Labour officials said the party’s overall performance – though poor – was strong enough to stop any immediate challenge to Corbyn, who opponents criticise for pressing a leftist agenda that lacks broad appeal.
Labour was forced into third place behind the Conservative Party in Scotland for the first time since the country was granted its own assembly, a crushing blow for a party which counted on it as a traditional stronghold for decades.
It also lost seats in England and Wales, while avoiding the catastrophic defeat some had predicted. There was little change for the ruling Conservatives in England and Wales but a stronger showing for smaller parties, such as the anti-EU UK Independence Party before a referendum on the bloc on June 23.
Britons voted on Thursday (May 5) to elect new devolved authorities in Scotland and Wales, more than 2,700 local officials across England and a new mayor of London.
With nearly two-thirds of the results declared, there was little change in England, but Labour lost nine percent of its share of the vote in Scotland and some ground in Wales.
Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron was in an up=beat mood as he celebrated gaining control of the local council in Peterborough.
“Local election day for sitting prime ministers is meant to be a day of dread. It’s meant to be a day when you’re sitting there waiting for someone to knock on the door like the condemned man waiting for the hangman. But that wasn’t what it was like last night and wasn’t what it was like today,” Cameron told supporters.
Corbyn may hope that an expected victory for Sadiq Khan in London’s mayoral election will help him limit the damage of the results. A Labour victory will be a big prize, loosening the Conservatives hold over Britain’s financial centre.
Khan, 45, the son of an immigrant bus driver, was up against Conservative Zac Goldsmith, 41, the elite-educated son of a billionaire financier.