Six immediate reactions to the election results
By Tim Montgomerie
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No breakthrough for Labour: Radio 4's Today programme is insisting that Labour had a "very good" night. If they achieve 700 gains that will be true but it's not a transformational night. Far from it. If there was real enthusiasm for Labour and Ed Miliband it wouldn't be losing control of Glasgow (as seems likely) or failing to win the London Mayoralty (as most predict). Miliband is, after all, a triple loser in Labour's heartlands. Nick Robinson says the results have, nonetheless, secured Ed Miliband's leadership. The #SaveEd Tories won't be unhappy at that.
The rise of Boris: The good news for Conservatives is that Boris does appear likely to win re-election. As Fraser Nelson writes in today's Telegraph his victory means there's now an alternative to David Cameron. Boris may not be an alternative leader (although in my Times column (£) I suggest that that idea is no longer fanciful) but he does represent an alternative vision of Conservatism. Fraser argues that "Boris' Conservatism" is more self-confident about traditional Tory beliefs than the Cameron brand. It certainly appears to be more potent. Boris is "the Heineken Tory" that reaches voters that other Conservatives cannot.
Yellow incumbents hold out against the Blues: Harry Phibbs is suggesting that there's not much evidence that the Conservatives are gaining from the Liberal Democrats. I'd like to see more results before drawing that conclusion but that's not a good omen for crucial Tory-Lib Dem General Election contests.
Unhappy Tories: Tory MPs are unhappy and not just the usual suspects. Number 10 should be worried that the normally ultra-loyal Gary Streeter MP went on to BBC TV last night to say that voters wanted more Conservatism from the Prime Minister and less Liberalism. He said that the Lib Dem tail needed to stop wagging the Tory dog. Alun Cairns MP had a similar message for the Conservative leader, tweeting: "Need to remember that David Cameron was most popular when he vetoed EU treaty. Lib Dems holding us back". Even one frontbencher has broken ranks. Gerald Howarth MP, defence minister, warned the PM to avoid distractions like gay marriage and Lords reform. He asked: "Do we need to do this at a time when the nation is preoccupied with restoring the public finances?"
The divided centre right: UKIP did well yesterday but without winning councils or many councillors. They are, as John Redwood blogs this morning, not a party of power but a party of protest. Their main function is to split the Eurosceptic and centre right vote and therefore they allow more pro-EU Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians to prosper. Harry writes about this on the Local government blog.
No to City mayors: The most disappointing result of all - as far as I am concerned - was the defeat of directly-elected Mayors in nearly every referendum. I've always seen this reform as one of the Coalition's most far-reaching. City mayors had the potential to attract big new talents to the leadership of Britain's great cities and deliver a decentralisation of economic and political power. Mayors would also be a way back into the northern cities for Conservatives and a great pool of tried-and-tested talent for an incoming new government at national office. I hope this reform that has been sabotaged by the vested interests of existing councillor establishements can still be salvaged. I'm not optimistic.