The centre-right party held on to key London councils despite a big push by Labour, the main opposition, which failed to live up to its own hype.
Peter Lamb, Labour leader of the council, said: “I’m very proud we are still in a position to deliver and improve local facilities and services”.
However Cornelius Olivier, Labour councillor at County Hall, said he thought there could be a shift towards Labour in the next local elections, adding: “The results for Plymouth were some of the best for Labour in the country”.
The Conservatives control 46 – down two. Labour meanwhile scored 1,675 seats, up 57.
The Conservatives gained control of four councils largely thanks to a total collapse in support for Ukip.
Labour’s sweep of 42 of the 45 seats in Tower Hamlets also represented a serious defeat for Aspire, the party backed by disgraced former mayor Lutfur Rahman, which won no seats. A Navy port town, the Conservative MP for the area Johnny Mercer admitted Labour’s victory was down to the government’s mishandling of defence issues. This was one of their top targets and they threw everything at it, but they failed. “We will continue to work hard for local people and we will build on this success for the future”. He is not anti-semitic but there are people in the Labour Party now who are’. The Conservatives took control of councils in Peterborough, Southend and Basildon, and saw a small swing in their favour outside the capital. Only 12 months after last May’s local elections, the same commentators now talking about Labour’s “failure” were telling us that Corbyn’s Labour was heading for electoral disaster at the June general election based on a disappointing night’s local election results. It tells us that Brexiteer UKIP voters have come back to their original Conservative home; it reminds us of the democratic majority who are wanting and waiting to leave the European Union, as the Midlands and parts of Northern England have remained uncompromisingly Tory.
The Liberal Democrats claimed they were on the road to recovery after they made huge gains to capture Richmond-upon-Thames and Kingston in south-west London and South Cambridgeshire from the Tories.
“It has been a great result and a majority of almost a thousand, but I am also aware that the Labour Party has to settle with the problem of Anti-Semitism in the party – which was an issue on doorsteps”.
“It hit us badly”, said one of Labour’s London MPs.
The share of the vote is estimated at 35% to Conservative and Labour each.
“We haven’t gone forwards and if we are looking to form an election-winning majority, we can not be confident of that happening based on the results yesterday”.
There was a similar picture in the Kersal ward in Salford – another strongly Jewish area – where the Conservatives took the seat from the Labour incumbent.
Labour’s goal to win Conservative strongholds in London like Wandsworth or Westminster always seemed a stretch, though it did gain seats in those councils.
Mr Campbell, who served as communications director under Tony Blair, also referenced a soundbite of the era to say Labour should be tough on Brexit, tough on the causes of Brexit. “That is true here in Greater Manchester”.
The Conservatives did better than they feared and Labour did not achieve the Tory wipe-out they anticipated.
“This shows just how important on-the-ground campaigning is for connecting with voters and winning ground”.