News In Depth
Bloody nose at polls for coalition
David Cameron is facing unrest within the coalition, after Conservatives and Liberal Democrats lost swathes of councillors to a resurgent Labour in elections across England, Scotland and Wales.
Disgruntled MPs - including one minister - issued open calls for the Prime Minister to assert Tory pre-eminence over Lib Dem coalition partners and ditch "barmy" policies on gay marriage and reform of the House of Lords.
Meanwhile, Ed Miliband said Labour was "winning back people's trust", after outperforming expectations by scooping more than 700 new councillors, gaining control over 29 councils and seeing off a Scottish National Party challenge in Glasgow.
In Labour's best night at the polls since Tony Blair's leadership, Mr Miliband saw his party make inroads into the south of England, seizing key councils such as Southampton, Exeter, Plymouth, Reading and Harlow and even snatching seats in Mr Cameron's own Witney constituency in Oxfordshire.
Speaking to cheering activists in Birmingham, where Labour won back control after eight years of opposition, Mr Miliband said his party had won by showing it was "in touch with people's concerns".
"This Government promised change and they have made things worse, not better," said Mr Miliband. "They are standing up for the rich and powerful, not standing up for the millions of ordinary families who need help.
"The message of these results is that when you have a Government piling unfairness on top of economic failure, people are not going to support them."
The one blemish on Mr Miliband's day came during a post-election visit to Southampton, where he was hit on the shoulder by an egg.
After counting was completed in 174 of the 181 councils were elections were taking place, Labour had gained 750 seats, while Tories had lost 394 councillors and ceded control in 12 local authorities. Liberal Democrats endured a bruising night, shedding 297 councillors to reach their lowest level of local representation since the party was formed in 1988.
Mr Cameron was hopeful of a silver lining in the shape of victory for Boris Johnson in the London mayoral election, where the Tory incumbent was leading his Labour rival Ken Livingstone in early counting.
But the Prime Minister's enthusiastic call for "a Boris in every city" was dealt a firm rebuff by voters, who rejected the introduction of elected mayors in eight cities. In 11 referendums held around England, only Bristol voted to create an elected mayor and Doncaster to retain theirs.
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said he was "really sad" at his party's results, but added: "I am determined that we will continue to play our role in rescuing, repairing and reforming the British economy.
"It's not an easy job and it can't be done overnight but our duty is to boost jobs and investment and to restore a sense of hope and optimism to our country."
Mr Cameron apologised to Conservative councillors for the loss of their seats, which he blamed on the tough economic backdrop against which the elections were held.
He said: "These are difficult times and there aren't easy answers.
"What we have to do is take the difficult decisions to deal with the debt, deficit and broken economy that we've inherited and we will go on making those decisions and we've got to do the right thing for our country."
Mr Cameron came under intense pressure to change course from MPs on the right of his party, who fear a haemorrhage of traditional Tory voters to the UK Independence Party unless he refocuses the Government's agenda on mainstream priorities.
"David Cameron, I think, is on notice that he does need to raise his game," former ministerial aide Stewart Jackson told BBC Radio 4's The World at One.
"He needs to concentrate on bread and butter issues likes jobs and mortgages and public services and above all develop a clear route map to growth and stop fixating on the agenda of a liberal clique and barmy policies such as Lords reform and gay marriage."
Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing urged the Tory leader to "give rather less regard to the Liberal Democratic intellectual urban elite with the student politics ideas of reforming the constitution and taking forward green policies", while former frontbencher Gary Streeter said his constituents were "gagging" for a tougher line on traditional Tory priorities like law and order.
And defence minister Gerald Howarth also expressed doubts about the Government's agenda, saying: "There are issues, for example, like the proposals for gay marriage. A lot of Conservatives have written to me saying 'I am a lifelong Conservative, there is no mandate for this, why is this being proceeded with?'
"There is the business of trying to change the House of Lords. Do we need to do this at a time when the nation is preoccupied with restoring the public finances?"
Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg are expected to attempt a relaunch of the coalition next week, with a joint press conference ahead of Wednesday's Queen's Speech, which will set out the Government's agenda for the coming year.
But Mr Clegg faced a warning from a senior Lib Dem peer that his party may not be able to fight the 2015 as an independent national party unless the Government changes tack on the economy.
Accusing Mr Cameron and the Treasury of "pussyfooting about" on the issue, he called on ministers to force banks - particularly those part-owned by the state, such as RBS - to lend to business.
Lord Oakeshott, a former party Treasury spokesman and close ally of Business Secretary Vince Cable, said: "For me, what matters is whether we can fight the next election as a nationwide, powerful, independent force, and if we have another year like this, we won't be able to."
He warned: "The economy is flat on its back and if we can't get the economy to grow, we can't get the deficit down.
"So unless there is a change, both coalition partners and our country are heading for the rocks. That is why we have got to take bold action now on the economy."
what do you think?
I see Cameloon is still blaming the Labour Party for the mess they supposed to have left them and this is why according to Cameloon they have done so badly at the polls.All he seems to be able to do is blame someone else for his mistakes
What so Labour don't deserve any blame for the immense and irreversible damage they did to Great Britain from 1997-2010? Deliberate uncontrolled immigration, people who choose never to work having their benefits raised so that they have a better standard of living than workers, the UK getting covered in concrete (new house every 7 minutes) because of Labour's destruction of our borders.
@ jim England you don't half talk some rubbish if you must know immigration has actually INCREASED under the tories ! yet another broken promise by scameron.Not only that ,thanks to that idiot henchwoman T.May shutting the border controls down as she did,let in god knows how many criminals in with them.Oh yes thats all been hushed up ,so as you mentioned it just thought we would give you a reminder.
100% right Jim. socialist are tottaly to blame for everything. no knighthood for bliar, or brown. says it all.
As far as I can see, Mr Hague, it's the Tories who dictate to the Lib-Dems the policies that are to be pushed through, remember the Libs promises regards NO student fees that the Tories blocked and now Mr Hague you try to blame them for your electoral losses! In the last few weeks Miss Mensche refused to place any blame on Rupert Murdoch for his criminality and Mr Cameron says he supports G*y Marriage 'Because he's a conservative' Does the expression 'Turkeys voting for Christmas' give you any clues?
The very sound of Hague's voice makes you want to vomit !
OMG John, have you heard, wassisname again.......oh yeah, milliecent, no.....milliepede, no.....oh you know who i'm on about, the socialist leader,......milliebank. anyway whatever his name is, have you heard the toff speak, sounds like hes got something stuck in his throat, like a silver spoon or something. really makes me want to vomit, i have to turn over.
dear David has had two years now , and still it is anybodies fault but his. Can't you see Mr Cameron, deal with the countries problems, we need jobs, enterprise, forget minor things like calling people partners instead of man and wife, get the country together with solid social ideas, teach people how to read, write and count , stop causing jobs going down the pan, you have a responsibilty to create work, not destroy it, have you thought why business and retail are going down the pan?people who have little money, not working are not able to buy items and cause business to prosper, but you and yours can't see this because you have no problem with your life, you are all on a different world compared to normal people
And I suppose you think Ed Millipede would do better. Wake up pal!
the socialists are still blaming Thatcher more that 20 years after she left office. 2 years is just the start I'm afraid. It is going to take a lot longer than that to sort out the hopeless mess the socialists have left us in. also dont believe the cr*p being spouted about the "world reccession" being to blame. Blair Brown Balls all sat at thetop table with the othet world leaders and their rich banker friends and caused this double dipper. They have gone down in history as being at fault. Not one of them has been man enough to admit it. anyone still believeing socialist lies after 13 years of them needs thier head tested.
Why are they even campaigning together? I don't get politics. They never set out to rule together, the Tories won the election but at too small a margin, so actually the guys in third place got into government on their coat tails. They don't really get along, why on earth don't they campaign as the seperate parties they are? Right now it's hard to tell which is dragging the other down, but it's absolutely clear that labour are profiting from both. And it's not like they're a really tough opponent these days.
They don't have to be tough to deal with the current rabble.
your right. its the only way the socialists can proifit. they certainly wont do it by themsekves with thier hopeless policies
We now need a new General Election
not getting one though so tuff luck
shows how clueless and rmoved from reality the tories are Read the 2nd paragraph above .The tories and fib dems have taken a full on kick in the conkers not a bruising,and all they think the problem is what .....g ay marriage and the house of lords!! unbelievable.NO people don't like the lies that Scameron has told ,remember the fuel stabilser rubbish ? what ever happened to that ,student fees,the N.H.S , 2 billion quid wars with Libya .That is what we don't like .This bunch of clwns blagged their way into power and now its payback.........and i am loving every minute of it
What and Blair wasn't just as much of a clown in 1997 and told us a pack of lies just to get elected? In 13 years, he and nu-labour did more damage to the UK than any other party every could. Labour are a great party if you're a foreign criminal or someone who wants to stay at home alll day on benefits - Labour will ensure you're better off than the working people living next to you.
Well said, Jim!
i resent your implication that my and the majority of voters had nothing to do with the tories being in power.
T. Bulgin there was no majority that voted for the tories, why do you think its a coalition. Even after 13 years of labour, a world wide money crisis causing a recession etc the tories still couldnt win outright !
the tories won mor seats than any one else....fact. thats a majority ok.
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Whilst I do not agree with what the Conservatives and the Lib/Dems are doing I dread to think what Labour would do if they were in power. No doubt they would continue to pay those who have never had a job more benefits than what they would earn if they worked. We have too many people running this country who are in conflict with each other. First the European Government, Westminster and then the local councils. It must be costing the tax paper millions just to keep all these politicians in salaries alone? Even some of the local councillors are claiming mega bucks in expenses these days.
no its not tes
What chances of 'ol Dave' calling an election eh? Yeah I know, I'm living in cuckoo land on a fluffy white cloud!
Camerons and Cleggs lot may be useless - but they would have to sink a whole lot more to reach the level the Labour rag-tags are at - people have got short term memories of Brown and his mate Bliar. Jesus they were nearly as bad as the Labour lot from the seventies.
I think I can recall a labour MP saying in the House that 50% of the members opposite were l*a*s. He was requested by the Speaker to withdraw the remarks, which he did and apologised, Asked to rephrase his comments he said that 50% of the members opposite told the truth ! Wonderful - although I think 50% might be just a bit optomistic !
still better that the side he was sitting on. why do you think bair was called bliar and labour called liebour ?
How can you build for the future with EU open access mode 4 now in place, Look it up, you will not believe it!
The Conservatives were in the wilderness and obscurity for years and it is obvious they will be soon going back there.
I would rather be governed by Germany than have another socialist government. dont be so sure about the tories, they have a lot of support.
Everyone, wake up! All our Governments in living memory have been a liability to the progress of this country. They have been fixated with destroying their Opposition order to remain in power while betraying our country by allowing membership of the EU., selling British assets - at knockdown prices - dismantling our heavy industries, ruining our coal industry and many more, and the list just goes on and on and on. Currently, it really dismays me to see Labour supporters on here talking as though the days of New Labour were the greatest time this country has ever seen and can't wait to get back to Gordon et al. ARE YOU INSANE? As for Cameron, isn't he just doing what his political ancestors have always done? This country needs to be fixed and the root of the problem is our broken political system of Party Politics.
I want a vote on the EU, I think that we should leave it before it drags us into the mud, it was never a good idea in the first place, and we were porky pied to about what it was for! i think that Lord oakeshott should ask himself if his party deserves the loyalty of the people, at the moment it is all stupid time wasting things that only very few people are interested in, and concerning minorities, I always thought that this country was run for the many, not the few!, but if Dave were to stand back and look in, he would see it is the other way about, so think hard your Lordship, what do you want a working country for working people, or a country that can't afford to pay people who have a right to retire, because it is all going on lazy scroungers, they won't vote for you, at all
The Lib/Dems are still ferreting away with nonsensical issues. Its time we had another election to sort out who we really want in Government. Perhaps the Lib/Dems will have been erased from the political scene this time around?