POLITICS

Local Elections: Labour Gains Are Not Enough, Experts Say

03/05/2013 14:45 BST | Updated 03/05/2013 15:38 BST

Labour's gains in the local elections are "nowhere near" what was expected of the party, one of the nation's leading election gurus has said.

Ed Miliband's party picked up seats across the country with some notable successes, including regaining Derbyshire and grabbing the North Tyneside mayoral contest from the Tories.

It also held onto the South Shields parliamentary seat vacated by former foreign secretary David Miliband, and embarrassed the Tories by grabbing David Cameron's home council in Witney.

But it failed to repair the damage done in the disastrous 2009 election, failing to regain Lancashire, which ended with no overall control.

Responding to the results, Miliband said he was "pleased" with Labour's gains but pointed to the Ukip performance as evidence that there were "still plenty of people saying 'can anyone turn this country around?'."

He added: "I believe Labour can, and we are carrying on this work to show people that we can."

Former Home Secretary Alan Johnson said Labour needed a "fresh offer" to appeal to voters.

He denied Miliband was guilty not putting forward enough policies.

"I would be extremely concerned if Ed Miliband was laying out more policies two years ahead of an election. If anything, he is showing too much leg but over the next two years certainly that's the time when you start to let people know what type of policies you will introduce."

A Sky News projection of the vote share translated into a General Election put Labour on 325 seats - on the cusp of the number needed for a majority.

But experts said many Ukip voters would return to the Tories at a General Election, suggesting the party has not yet done enough to get over the line.

Professor Michael Thrasher, of Plymouth University, told Sky News Labour was not "making the expected advances".

"Although Labour's vote has increased since 2009, it's not anywhere near the increase you would expect," he said.

The two parties' spin doctors put their own slant on Labour's showing: