POLITICS

2012 Local Elections: Tory MPs Demand Cameron Change Course

04/05/2012 13:43 | Updated 04 May 2012

Many Tories are either asleep or licking their wounds after a pretty awful night in the local elections in England and Wales. So far the party has lost control of 13 councils - a net loss of more than 350 councillors.

They might feel better later if Boris retains the job of London Mayor, but for now MPs on the right of the party are annoyed at the tactics of the leadership - and some of them are quite happy to say so.

Some of the major losses include Harlow in Essex, Great Yarmouth and Plymouth, plus a wipeout of Tory seats in Dudley in the the West Midlands.

David Cameron told reporters on Friday morning that he was sorry for all the Tory councillors who'd lost their seats, but didn't seem to offer any change of course.

"These are difficult times, and there aren't easy answers. What we have to do is to take difficult decisions to deal with the debt, the deficit and the broken economy that we inherited. We'll go on making those decisions because we've got to do the right thing for our country," he said.

Not all Tories believe Cameron's present course is sustainable. On Friday afternoon a former junior member of the government, Stuart Jackson, told BBC Radio 4: "He’s on notice, he does need to raise his game and focus on bread and butter issues like jobs and mortgages."

Jackson is arguably the most senior Tory to voice dissent - he quit the government six months ago over a vote in the Commons on the European Union. But he's far from alone.

Tory MP Douglas Carswell, who doesn't enjoy the best of relationships with David Cameron, told HuffPost on Friday morning:

"These results show why we need to deliver the EU referendum we promised when in opposition. UKIP cost us a number of seats in council elections. If repeated in a General Election, this will mean us losing dozens of seats and make an overall majority less likely. More 'wind turbine Toryism' is not the answer."

And it seems that those Tories who are on the right of the party are keen to stick their oar in. Mark Pritchard - who is stepping down as secretary of the backbench 1922 committee - told us : "This should be a wake-up call for all those who think diluting orthodox conservatism will bring electoral success."

Although Tories have been fairly reserved on Twitter - either pointing out a rare win or saying nothing at all - a few have vented their frustration:

Another Tory MP who doesn't want to be named (possibly hoping they will be among the contenders in a potential reshuffle?) - told us their fears about the coalition becoming distracted.

"To be honest much of it is to be expected, but at the same time our party's focus has been on the Mayoral election and boris so I'm not surprised what's happened is nationwide," they told HuffPost.

"The Queen's speech next week has got to be major, one to recalibrate the economy. We cannot carry on talking about the reform of the House of Lords. We are in a recession and that has to be the only focus of this government. "

See also:

The complaints are not restricted to the back benches. Reflecting on the results on Friday morning, Tory defence minister George Howarth suggested the losses could be down to plans to introduce gay marriage.

“There are issues, for example, like the proposals for gay marriage," he said.

“A lot of Conservatives have written to me saying ‘I am a lifelong Conservative, there is no mandate for this, why is this being proceeded with?’.

The coalition plan to bring in same-sex marriage has the support of all three main party leaderships, but it is unpopular with some on the right of the Conservative Party.

Howarth also took aim at Lords reform: “There is the business of trying to change the House of Lords. Do we need to do this at a time when the nation is preoccupied with restoring the public finances?”

The criticism was batted away by foreign secretary William Hague who said: "I don't think these elections results are about those issues."

Elections

05/05/2012 00:34 BST

41-hours after polls opened Boris is mayor and we can all go to bed

So over 41 hours after polls opened on Thursday morning, Boris Johnson is mayor of London and we can all go to bed to dream analytical dreams about what the results mean for the country.

04/05/2012 22:45 BST

London Elects: 'Several Hundred' votes to be manually checked

Probable ETA of a declaration is about an hour, hopefully less (please)

04/05/2012 22:44 BST

Statement on the count delays from London Elects...

London Elects statement:

We have results in from 13 of the 14 constituencies in the Mayor of London and London Assembly election.

The final constituency is Brent & Harrow. The Greater London Returning Officer has been in touch with the CRO for Brent & Harrow to establish the reason for a delay.

All batches of ballot papers were registered and scanned. Two batches went to storage without some ballot papers being manually entered as required. Manual entry is required when a scanner cannot read a ballot paper – for example if a ballot paper is damaged. It is not an issue with the scanners.

The issue was identified during the verification stage. These two batches are being re-processed. To make this happen as quickly as possible we have separated out into several smaller batches. This is why the progress screens appear to show a changing number of verified ballot papers.

We will declare as soon as possible but it is obviously important that every vote is counted.

04/05/2012 22:29 BST

What's happening at City Hall?

Well we don't entirely know. The latest is that at least two ballot boxes were found unscanned at the Brent count, and they're now being counted by hand, for some reason.

There are rumours that Ken's team has asked for a full recount in Brent, which would delay things for another few hours.

London elects thinks it'll be only another 20 mins, but they've been saying that for nearly two hours.

04/05/2012 19:44 BST

YouGov are calling it for Boris..

@ tnewtondunn :

The Sun's pollster Peter Kellner of YouGov calls it - "Boris has won. He has too big a lead for Ken to overturn".

04/05/2012 18:24 BST

Ken-supporting constituencies now coming in...

It's leading to a sharp narrowing in the polls between the two candidates. On 1st preference votes Boris now has 44% and Ken 40% - 8 out of 14 constituencies have now declared.

04/05/2012 17:07 BST

London Mayoral Vote Getting Tight...

Here's the latest.

london shocker

People are talking about 50/50 odds between Ken and Boris. The atmosphere at City Hall has changed dramatically in the past half hour.

04/05/2012 16:40 BST

Ed Miliband: We're coming back

Ed Miliband, speaking in Southampton, has declared that Labour is "coming back".

This comes after Labour took control of Southampton from the Conservatives.

He railed against the "out of touch government in Westminster".

"David Cameron promised change, not for the better but for the worse. Today in Southampton, it is a rejection of the economic failure of this government, and the unfairness of this government". he added

He also boasted that Labour is "beating back" the SNP in Scotland.

He recognised the low turnouts, saying it showed there was "still more to do".

04/05/2012 16:35 BST

Peter Bone MP - 'This is the beginning of the end of the coalition'

Conservative MP Peter Bone has said that the PM has 'one hand tied behind his back'.

"Worst of all, we've got the Liberals holding us back" he added

The results signified the "beginning of the end of the coalition", he told the BBC.

"We're seeing Boris winning as a Conservative in London, yet the Coalition losing against Labour. So the message must be let's come out of this coalition as soon as possible." he said

04/05/2012 16:25 BST

Liam Byrne optimistic despite Birmingham no vote

Liam Byrne, who quit the Shadow Cabinet in preparation for running for Birmingham Mayor, has just tweeted this

@ LiamByrneMP :

A huge thanks to ALL who supported Yes2Mayor, Albert and me: our job now is to get 4-square behind our brilliant new Lbr council #brummayor

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