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Hammering for Lib Dems as Scottish nationalists approach majority

Nick Clegg’s party takes a beating in local elections, while the SNP – which backs independence – takes power in Scotland.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg admitted he was disappointed with his party's disastrous performance in the UK's assembly and council elections.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg admitted he was disappointed with his party's disastrous performance in the UK's assembly and council elections.
Image: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS have been handed a major blow after incurring heavy losses in England’s local council elections – as voters lashed out at the performance of the junior coalition partners.

Nick Clegg’s party lost its control of the councils in Hull and Stockport, while it also lost every single seat it held on Manchester City Council.

In Clegg’s home city of Sheffield, the Lib Dems lost nine seats – giving Labour a majority on the council. Tellingly, the student-heavy Broomhill ward was one of those which switched allegiances – almost certainly as a protest against Clegg’s acquiescence on Tory plans to raise tuition fees.

Labour were the main beneficiaries of the Lib Dems’ council collapses, picking up the Lib Dem’s previous support while also winning every single one of the 33 seats available in Manchester.

In Ed Miliband’s first electoral outing as party leader, Labour also performed strongly in Wales, where it seems set to gain an overall majority in the national assembly and dropping its current coalition partner Plaid Cymru.

There was less success for Labour in Scotland, however, where the Scottish National Party made sweeping gains – and looked set to approach a crucial overall majority in the Scottish Parliament.

The SNP’s minority administration had fought unsuccessfully to press for a referendum on Scottish independence in the last parliament, but with an overall majority in Holyrood, it would be free to press ahead with holding such a public vote.

Among the other policy plans outlined by SNP leader Alex Salmond are moves to reduce Scotland’s corporation tax, in a bid to help it attract foreign direct investment.

The elections brought little major news for the Conservative party, which held its status as the largest party in England, though David Cameron’s party failed to gain ground in Wales and Scotland where it enjoys less support.

Counting on the UK-wide referendum on changing the electoral voting system will begin later this afternoon, while counting has begun this morning in the elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly in Stormont.

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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