Liberal Democrats led by Vince Cable has turned into “the big winners” of the local election after the party gained hundreds of seats and control of a series of councils. It is important to note that voters see local elections as an opportunity to protest, and register their discontent with the sitting party, conservative party led by Teresa May. Major opposition party, Labour party, led by Jeremy Corbyn also has lost seats.
The Liberal Democrats are a centrist, liberal political party in the United Kingdom. With all the results in, the Lib Democrats had 1,350 councillors, a net gain of 703 on 2015 figures, and controlled 18 councils, in an election expected to be Cable’s swansong as leader. However, the gains came in the context of results that were disastrous for the party the last time the same areas were fought.
Among the areas taken were the traditional Tory stronghold of Cotswold district council, where the Liberal Democrats overtook the Conservatives to become the biggest single party, winning 18 of the 34 seats.
Arguably more striking was Bath and North East Somerset, where the party gained 23 seats to easily overturn the previous Tory majority, winning 37 of the 59 seats – including the home ward of the Tory Brexiter MP Jacob Rees-Mogg.
As the results came in, Cable travelled to Chelmsford in Essex, where his party overturned a previous 45-seat Conservative majority, amassing a net gain of 26 seats, while the Tories lost 31.
The party also gained Winchester, Vale of White Horse, Mole Valley, Hinckley and Bosworth, North Devon and North Norfolk. They also took the newly formed authority of Somerset West and Taunton, formed by the merger of two councils.
Cable told celebrating Lib Dem activists that the result reflected a “story across the country”. He said: “The Lib Dems were written off at one point but we’re coming back very, very strongly. We’re the big winners of the night throughout the country.”
He said: “Voters have sent a clear message that they no longer have confidence in the Conservatives, but they are also refusing to reward Labour while the party prevaricates on the big issue of the day: Brexit.”
Cable added: “Today’s Lib Dem surge is a springboard to the European elections, where we are clearly the strongest remain force on the ballot paper. Every Liberal Democrat vote on 23 May will be a vote to stop Brexit.”