Last week’s local elections accelerated the Conservative party’s disappearance from most of metropolitan England.
An end point of sorts has been reached in some parts of the country, where there are now no Tory councillors to be seen. Here the party can at least console itself that there’ll be no more headlines about losing seats, but only because there are no more seats left to be lost.
There are 13 councils in England that are now Tory-free zones. That doesn’t sound very many, but the 13 contains some of the UK’s largest councils and includes some of the country’s biggest cities:
1. Manchester (96 councillors)
2. Liverpool (90)
3. Sheffield (84)
4. Newcastle-upon-Tyne (78)
5. Gateshead (66)
6. Knowsley (63)
7. Newham (60)
8. Haringey (57)
9. Lewisham (54)
10. Barking & Dagenham (51)
11. Islington (48)
12. Oxford (48)
13. Norwich (39)
In other words, 834 councillors spread across just 13 councils, none of whom are Conservatives.
Bear in mind that the total number of seats on all the councils holding elections last week was 8,475. Those 13 councils account for roughly 10% of the entire metropolitan, district and borough local government in England (though not the shires or counties – much to the Tories’ relief).
Go back four years to the time of the 2010 general election, and the list of Tory-free councils was 10. The party had outposts of representation in Manchester, Norwich and Lewisham. They’ve all now gone.
Chloe Smith, Tory MP for Norwich North, could well be facing the same fate at the general election next year.
There are two other councils where just one Tory survives: Sandwell and South Tyneside. You have to wonder which is preferable: being a Tory ex-councillor living in a town or city where none of your colleagues no longer hold office, or being the sole Tory on a council (Sandwell) facing 70 Labour rivals.