Local elections 2013: the story in four graphics

by Stephen Tall on May 4, 2013

Here’s the story of this year’s local elections in three graphics…

First, let’s start with the bald statistics: the Lib Dems made a net loss of 124 councillors on Thursday. As I pointed out here, that’s slightly better than forecast. But still, as the party’s chief executive Tim Gordon noted in his post-election briefing, each is “a real loss to both their local communities and the Liberal Democrat family”.

lib dems local elections 2013 - 1

But here’s the reason Lib Dems are feeling not-quite-so-bad this morning:

lib dems local elections 2013

Here’s how the party has summarised the good news:

  • The final tally across all of our held parliamentary seats is Lib Dem 30%, Con 27%, Ukip 17%, Lab 15%.
  • Our vote share in these parliamentary seats continues to be out in front, with the largest vote share across the country in constituencies like Westmorland, Bristol West, North Cornwall Eastbourne and Colchester.
  • In many of these seats we have gained councillors – four more in North Cornwall, two more in Cheltenham, Chippenham, Westmorland & Lonsdale, and we have gained one or held our number in many other seats.
  • Cheltenham – gaining two councillors and winning 43.2% vote share – up more than 5% on 2009. In 2009 the seat was blue, now it is yellow – echoing the strong support received last year in the borough council elections.
  • In Tim Farron’s constituency of Westmorland & Lonsdale, Lib Dems took 53.8% of the vote and won 12 seats, making a net gain of two from the Conservatives.
  • Lib Dems in Cambridgeshire have toppled the Conservative leader of Cambridgeshire County Council.
  • In Lancashire we’ve beaten the Tories in two wards – West Craven and Pendle Central.
  • In the south we are taking two wards off the Tories in Abingdon – Abingdon South and Abingdon East.
  • In a number of our Parliamentary seats we have extended our lead, increasing our vote share over the Tories in in parliamentary seats such as Mid Dorset & North Poole, Eastbourne and Cheltenham. In Taunton Deane, we’re second behind the Tories by just 1.8% (in 2009 we were behind there by 6.8%).
  • In Eastleigh we gained 37.3% vote share, Ukip gained 35.3% and the Tories slumped to just 17.9% – down 12 pts from 2009.
  • There are also a number of seats where we’ve made real progress. There are now a fistful of parliamentary seats we do not hold where we have the highest proportion of vote share – including Winchester, Oxford West and Abingdon, South East Cornwall, St Albans and Watford. We are breathing down the necks of the Tory party in these seats and are the only party that can take them.
  • Here’s the third reason last night wasn’t quite as bad for the Lib Dems — we were hit least hard by Ukip’s surge:

    Local-elections-graph

    Which means the party would have retained 50 MPs if (and it’s a big if) the public voted like this in 2015:

    * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.