Local elections: Labour makes gains across England
Labour has won a string of victories in English local elections - with shadow ministers claiming Ed Miliband is now on course for No 10.
The party is set to add more than 700 seats and has taken control of more than 20 councils including Birmingham.
Based on results so far, Labour is projected to end up with a 39% national share of the vote, up three points, with the Tories down four on 31%.
The Lib Dems' share of the vote is estimated to be unchanged at 16%.
In other developments:
- Estimated turnout is 32%, the lowest since 2000
- Labour says it is "on course" for substantial gains" in Wales
- Labour's Joe Anderson is elected Liverpool's first mayor
- But voters in Manchester, Nottingham, Bradford and Coventry reject the mayoral system with other cities tipped to follow
- Polls predict a win for Boris Johnson in London - but results are not expected until Friday evening
- UKIP has its best ever local election night with a 14% share where they stood but few extra councillors
- George Galloway's Respect gains five councillors in Bradford and unseats Labour group leader
Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry said the results showed Labour was "on its way" back to power at the next general election.
She said: "We're not being complacent about this. We need to work more, but we are going in the right direction and we are very cheerful tonight. It is encouraging the way in which we are regaining the trust of the public."
The Liberal Democrats now have fewer than 3,000 councillors for the first time since the party was formed in 1988.
But former chief executive Lord Rennard says it was a consequence of being in government and the party's vote had held up where they had MPs.
The UK Independence Party enjoyed its best ever local election night, averaging about 14% of the vote where its candidates were standing, mainly at the expense of the Conservatives.
The Eurosceptic party's performance is likely to increase pressure on the coalition to hold an EU referendum - and for David Cameron to distance himself from his Lib Dem coalition partners.
Backbench Conservative MP Gary Streeter said Conservative supporters were sending a message to David Cameron that "they don't think our leadership is Conservative enough" by voting UKIP.
More than 4,700 seats have been contested in 128 English councils, with 21 unitary authorities in Wales electing new councillors. In Scotland, every seat on 32 unitary authorities was up for election, with results expected later on Friday.
The results of mayoral polls in Bradford, Bristol, Leeds, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Sheffield and Wakefield are awaited.
· All the latest election results are available at bbc.co.uk/vote2012
- Projected national share: Labour 39%, Tories 31%, Lib Dems 16%
- Labour majority of 82 if votes translated into general election
- Tories dismiss results as typical for mid-term
- Lib Dems say vote is holding up where they have MPs
- Scottish counts to begin at 0900
- London mayor and assembly counts start on Friday afternoon
Diane and Linda, these elections are that of Local Election, however, the reason for threading these election results albeit, they are not all in yet, it is a warning to Cameron, Clegg and the Coalition Government that the British Public are very unhappy of the state of the Country.
What the Coalition will do now is take note lick their wounds and make changes to get the British Public on the side of the Government again,
Lib-Dem's been Clegg Party lost a number of seats locally, Clegg may well start to pull away from Cameron and the Tory Party, this could then be seen as the start of the break up of the Coalition Government, if this happens then this would cause another Election due to the fact that Cameron had no mandate in 2010.
that why I wished that Cameron had waited to see if he could form Government with a limited amount of seats in Parliament, had he done so, Cameron would indeed be in a better position, unlike he finds himself and his Party is in, this morning.
Ray, sounds like the status quo is being challenged and both of our countries are in debt and overwhelmed by entitlement payouts. Unemployment is very high in England and in the US it is higher than we'd like and not going down.
All of these elections are sending a message.
George Osborne accepts 'tough message' of local elections
The local elections delivered a "tough message" for the government, Chancellor George Osborne has said.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Mr Osborne said he took Thursday's results "on the chin", and admitted problems with the presentation of the Budget.
The Conservatives lost control of 12 councils while their Lib Dem partners also experienced heavy losses.
But one Tory backbencher, Nadine Dorries, accused Mr Osborne and Prime Minister David Cameron of "arrogance". In his article for the Mail on Sunday, Mr Osborne accepted the rash of negative headlines following the Budget, including criticism of the so-called "pasty tax" and "granny tax", was due to the way his plans had been presented.
"I take responsibility for that," he said. "But that doesn't stop the tax cuts for millions of people contained in the Budget from actually happening and helping families."
He said the government had to "focus on the priorities that really matter right now", and would have to "work even harder" on the economy, welfare, education, the NHS and law and order.
But our political correspondent Gary O'Donoghue said the chancellor's article did not point to any great change in direction, which would not please some Tory backbenchers.
They want the government to abandon plans for gay marriage and House of Lords reform, our correspondent said.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live, Tory backbencher Nadine Dorries said some of her colleagues could push for a confidence vote in the prime minister unless there was a change in policy.
"We've had no announcement since Thursday night and since the result came out that the Conservative Party is going to do things differently," she said.
Ms Dorries added that if the party leadership "keep letting the Liberal Democrats hold us to ransom on policy, well then they're going to have to go".
But Downing Street said there was no intention to shelve plans for gay marriage and denied reports that the High Speed 2 rail link could be delayed.
Earlier, Labour's shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry said the government was "not doing the right thing" and had "no plan B" to get the economy growing and unemployment down.
But Mr Osborne told the Mail: "Ed Balls and Ed Miliband were Gordon Brown's right-hand men when they got Britain into this mess.
"Now they want to let spending and borrowing get out of control all over again.
"They are like a pair of heavy drinkers trying to wash away problems by opening another bottle."
This post was modified from its original form on 06 May, 0:06
When the People is in fear of their Government, that's dictatorship, when the Government is in fear of its people that's Democracy, I love it.
Bravo, Ray. Spending and borrowing at the same time bring the exact results we are witnessing around the world today. There must be leadership in place who believe in fiscal responsibility and that means reform with cuts across the board. The entitlements are way out of hand and cannot be sustained when a country has to borrow to meet its obligations.
The chancellor reacts to criticism from Conservative MP Nadine Dorries
George Osborne has said his party will focus on what matters to the public amid criticism from Conservative MPs in the wake of local election defeats.
Some Tories have urged the coalition to drop plans for electing the House of Lords and legalising gay marriage in favour of more populist policies.
The chancellor told the BBC ministers should "focus 100%" on the economy and not get "distracted" by other issues.
But they would still do "socially progressive" things, he insisted.
He was responding to criticism of the coalition's direction and priorities from some Conservative-supporting newspapers and backbench Tory MPs.
On Wednesday, the coalition will outline its agenda for the next year in the Queen's Speech, as it tries to regain the initiative after both the
Conservatives and the Lib Dems suffered heavy losses in local elections.
Many Conservative MPs want ministers to use the occasion to assert more traditional Conservative priorities on issues such as welfare, crime and tax and either delay or abandon proposals to legalise gay marriage and reform the House of Lords, seen predominately as Liberal Democrat ideas.
Mr Osborne told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that "100% of our efforts need to be directed" at fixing the economy, which is back in recession.
While he believed the "national mood" was behind the need to get the deficit under control, he said he accepted many people were having a "very tough" time and had either backed other parties or not voted at all in last week's elections.
"The government understands your message. We take it on the chin and we have got to learn from what you are saying... what people are saying is focus on the things which really matter like the economy, welfare, education, crime and healthcare... and not get distracted by too many other issues".
Asked about plans to reform the House of Lords - which senior Tory Tim Yeo said should be "relegated right down to the bottom of the queue" - he said Parliament should debate the issue but it was not an "overriding" priority.
On proposals to legalise gay marriage by 2015, Mr Osborne said "we are a socially progressive country and it is something I support" but opposing views had to be listened to in a future consultation.
Earlier, Tory backbencher Nadine Dorries told the Stephen Nolan show on Radio 5 live the Conservatives could see even bigger losses in council elections next year unless the party "changed direction".
On the issue of leadership, Ms Dorries - a frequent critic of the prime minister and chancellor - said some of her colleagues could push for a confidence vote in the prime minister unless the situation improved in the next year and the issue was already being "discussed".
But her colleague Robert Halfon said the majority of MPs were "supportive" of the PM as the government confronted a very difficult economic situation and Conservative peer Lord Fowler said Mr Cameron should "stick to his guns".
This post was modified from its original form on 06 May, 22:31
For Labour, shadow chancellor Ed Balls said David Cameron and George Osborne had been "rattled" by the election results.
"For the Conservatives, it is much more deeper than mid-term blues," he told the Sunday Politics. "It is about an economic failure and a sense that Conservative leaders are out of touch and making the wrong calls about tax and fairness in the economy."
While Labour supported plans to reduce the deficit, he said the government's austerity plan was self-defeating and Mr Osborne was "in a hole" and "should stop digging".
Labour are calling for "practical steps" in this week's Queen's Speech to ease the burden on living standards, such as caps on rail fare rises and employment guarantees for young people.
Political Correspondent, BBC News
"Incompetent" and "out of touch" - those have been the two most damaging charges against the coalition in recent weeks.
After the hammering in local elections, ministers are pressing the reset button.
George Osborne had one central task today: To persuade voters that he understood their concerns, and would act on them.
There would be no time for any "distractions".
So House of Lords reform will be discussed by Parliament, but it wasn't a priority.
Consultation would continue on gay marriage, but there will be no legislation for it soon.
Meanwhile, Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg are preparing to renew their vows.
But, with the Leveson Inquiry rumbling on, the economy stubbornly refusing to grow, and Tory and Lib Dem backbenchers agitating, there are plenty of "distractions" ahead.
7 May 2012 Last updated at 04:58
David Cameron promises hard work after election defeats
Prime Minister David Cameron has promised focus, delivery and hard work as he seeks to fight back following poor local election results last week.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he says he will not move to the right or left and is sceptical of those who think the answers to the problems can be found in what he calls "loud ideologies".
Mr Cameron is under pressure from a number of MPs seeking a change of tack.
Some Tory backbenchers are expected to back an "alternative" Queen's Speech.
On Wednesday, the coalition will outline its agenda for the next year in the Queen's Speech, as it tries to regain the initiative after both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats suffered heavy losses in local elections
The Tories lost 405 council seats in Thursday's poll, while their coalition partners lost 336.
In his Telegraph article, Mr Cameron writes: "The message people are sending is this: focus on what matters, deliver what you promise - and prove yourself in the process. I get it."
BBC political correspondent, Gary O'Donoghue, said: "Delivering what's already been promised is the key idea at the centre of this fightback.
"The battles are only won, says the prime minister, when measures are actually experienced on the ground."
Our correspondent says while there will be some new measures aimed at reassuring people that the government is on their side, ministers believe most of their problems would go away if they could turn the economy around and bring unemployment down.
Meanwhile, the influential but unofficial website Conservative Home is publishing an alternative Queen's Speech - including 15 ideas for bills ranging from more grammar schools to a referendum on Britain's EU membership.
Around 20 MPs have contributed ideas, and several senior backbenchers are planning to argue for the plans in various TV appearances.
Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Cameron said: "My reaction to last week's local election results is straightforward: I get the message, loud and clear.
"I know that the familiar excuses - low turnout, mid term blues - aren't enough.
"Even the difficulties of our economic situation and the tough but necessary decisions the government has had to take cannot fully explain the results."
Julian Brazier, the Conservative MP for Canterbury in Kent, urged Mr Cameron to eschew gay marriage and reform of the House of Lords, both of which he described as "pretty ridiculous fringe policies".
Brian Binley, the Tory MP for Northampton who has a record for being outspoken, was quoted on the Conservative Home website as "urging Mr Cameron to rethink policies that are too Lib Dem-friendly".
Mr Cameron's message was echoed on Sunday by his Chancellor, George Osborne, who told the BBC ministers should "focus 100%" on the economy and not get "distracted" by other issues.
This post was modified from its original form on 06 May, 22:53
We have old says in the UK, You can lead a Horse to Water, but cannot force it to Drink,
Cameron will do more than just work harder to get the man/woman in the street back on his side.
David Cameron and Nick Clegg to 'relaunch coalition'
David Cameron and Nick Clegg will appear together later to stress their continuing commitment to the coalition and the programme they agreed in 2010.
Both leaders have come under pressure from their own parties to stress more distinctive policies after suffering losses in last week's local elections.
The event, in Essex, comes on the eve of the Queen's Speech, when the new legislative programme is set out.
It will also be an attempt to move on, after last week's local elections.
BBC political correspondent Carole Walker said: "The mood will be very different from the jokey joint news conference in the Number 10 rose garden two years ago.
"But David Cameron and Nick Clegg will again stand together to stress their commitment to the coalition government and the overriding priority of rebuilding the economy."
Our correspondent says the prime minister will say that, with the eurozone in extreme trouble, it is more important than ever for Britain to stick to the plan to tackle the deficit.
His Liberal Democrat deputy will agree, saying ducking the tough choices would only prolong the pain.
But our correspondent says there is renewed tension between the coalition partners over the Queen's speech, with Tory MPs demanding more purely Conservative policies.
Some Tory MPs have been setting out an "alternative Queen's Speech".
Measures - including a traditionalist Tory demand for a referendum on repatriating powers from Europe and an expansion of grammar schools - were published on the Conservative Home website.
Many Tory MPs want reform of the House of the Lords to be shelved, while Mr Clegg says its time to get on with it.
Our correspondent says: "I understand the issue will be included, but the commitment will be to legislate once parliament has reached a consensus... something that has proved elusive so many times before."
Disagreements within the coalition have been highlighted by Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes accusing Tory MPs of thinking they were "born to rule".
Later this week, the prime minister faces further discomfort with the appearance at the Leveson Inquiry on Thursday of former Downing Street communications chief Andy Coulson.
This post was modified from its original form on 07 May, 22:26
Skinner's 'recession' heckle angers Tory MPs
Labour MP Dennis Skinner has used the State Opening of Parliament to draw attention to the country's economic situation, much to the annoyance of some other MPs.
After Black Rod summoned MPs to the Lords to hear the Queen's Speech, Mr Skinner said: "Jubilee year, double-dip recession, what a start."
His comment was greeted with cries of "shame" from some Conservative MPs.
Ray, it appears that MP Skinner was just a little tactless and typical of the liberal mentality; take any opportuinity to disrespect anyone and anything. So quick to point fingers.
Linda, sorry for responding so later in the day[my time] I would give you 10 out 10 spot on, you have a great judge of character, Skinner is a Labour MP and he's always been the same.
He and Obama should move to Kenya or Pakistan together, don't you think, Ray?