The main parties will put entirely different spins on local election results declared overnight.

Labour will highlight historic gains in London with Barnet, Westminster and Wandsworth front and centre of its soundbites.

And make no mistake these are historic gains.

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The Conservatives had majority control of Barnet for much of the time since 1964 and it had always been the biggest party there.

Westminster, which oversees local services on parliament’s doorstep, had also been in Conservative hands since the authority was created in 1964.

Wandsworth had been Tory controlled for the past 44 years.

Labour will also point to its gain of Southampton Council and its impressive performance in the new Cumberland unitary authority.

The Conservatives, by contrast, will say that the loss of Wandsworth, while disappointing, is entirely in line with demographic changes affecting the profile of voters in the capital who in the 2019 general election returned three Labour MPs in the borough.

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Barnet had only withstood the general London-wide drift to Labour because of the row over antisemitism within the party.

Southampton, the Conservatives will point out, was a surprising gain for them in 2021 in what was an exceptional performance by a governing party.

Check the result where you live

Graphic below shows overall picture in England

Conservatives wanting to spotlight their own performance will highlight both Labour’s general failure to make significant progress, barely making net gains of seats at the close of overnight counting and also councils where the party of opposition is losing ground at the parliamentary mid-term.

Understandably, Labour’s response has been to avoid talk about seats and steer our attention towards vote share.

The party has reversed the tide running against them that was so evident in the 2021 elections.

Constituencies that they lost to the Conservatives in the 2019 general election, for example in Sandwell and Wolverhampton in the West Midlands, would return to the fold based on these voting figures.

This is true, but experience with local elections shows this is nearly always the case when the votes are aggregated into parliamentary constituencies.

Current national polls show a swing against the government and Labour most likely to win a fictional general election.

The local election voting confirms that the flow of support is running in Labour’s direction, sufficient to erase Boris Johnson’s majority but a long way short of suggesting Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour can seize power anytime soon.

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