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Johnson triumphs in London while election drubbing for PM sparks calls for a return to traditional Tory values


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Johnson triumphs in London while election drubbing for PM sparks calls for a return to traditional Tory values

SCROLL DOWN FOR THE RESULTS IN YOUR AREA

COUNCIL RESULTS: Labour +32, Tories -12 and Lib Dems -1

NUMBER OF SEATS: Labour +823, Tories -405, Lib Dems -336

LONDON MAYORAL: Boris Johnson wins second term by 3% margin

Odds of Boris becoming next Conservative Party leader slashed to 4-1

Councillors turn on 'catastrophe Clegg' as his party loses 50% of seats

Miliband hit with an egg during a victory walkabout in Southampton

Boris Johnson has been tipped to become the next Tory leader following his triumph in the London Mayoral race and a humiliating drubbing at the polls for David Cameron.

The Prime Minister has been left struggling to contain civil war in the Coalition with members of his own party demanding a return to traditional Tory values after a loss of 12 councils and 405 seats.

Last night the PM was warned to rein in ‘wind turbine Toryism’ as senior Conservative MPs prepared to publish an alternative programme for Government, demanding more radical tax and spending policies.

Scroll down for results and videos

Rivals? Boris Johnson, right, triumphed in London despite an election drubbing for David Cameron and the Conservative party

Confident: A typically ruffled Boris gives a thumbs up as he gets into a taxi with wife Marina after they visited the Rose Club in Marylebone last night

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Nevertheless his victory remained one of the only positives for the Tories and he is now expected to tell Mr Cameron that the party must adopt his style of 'compassionate cosmopolitan Conservatism' if they are to stand a chance of victory at the 2015 general election.

The rivalry between the two former Eton pupils has been the source of much speculation since their days at Oxford and while Mr Johnson announced his intention to serve another full five-year term as London mayor, many within the party want to see him return to the Commons.

Narrow victory: Johnson gives a victory speech after winning a second term as London mayor beating Labour rival Ken Livingstone by just three per cent

Battered: David Cameron walking with two of his advisers after a difficult day at the polls

Count: The electoral count staff tally the votes for the local elections at Olympia conference centre in London

One activist wrote on the party website: 'Despite the kicking they have received I don't hear a single Tory drawing the obvious conclusion that they need to change their policies or their leader or both.

'Unless Boris becomes our next Prime Minister it will be Miliband.'

Following his victory Bookmakers William Hill have slashed the odds of Johnson becoming the next Tory leader to 4-1.

Seeking to draw a line under the Government’s most turbulent period, Mr Cameron admitted the polls took place against a ‘difficult national backdrop’ but insisted ministers were doing the ‘right thing for our country’.

However he faces an immediate challenge from senior figures on the Right of his party who want him to stand up to the  Liberal Democrats.

They plan to unveil an alternative Queen’s Speech within days, setting out 20 Bills they argue would kickstart the faltering economy and boost Conservative support.

Tory hearts were lifted last night as Boris Johnson defied political gravity with a knife-edge defeat of Labour’s Ken Livingstone in the London mayoral election, the biggest ballot-box test before the next General Election.

Watch out, Ed! A protester cracks an egg the Labour leader's shoulder during a victory walkabout in Southampton this afternoon

Butt of all the yolks: Mr Miliband looks at his shoulder in disgust as his aides scramble to catch the culprit who ran away down the street

Mr Johnson, whose victory put him in pole position to succeed Mr Cameron, brushed aside suggestions that he would return to Parliament as an MP in 2015 to battle for the leadership.

But Tory MPs pointed out that the London Mayor had outperformed his party in the capital while refusing to apologise for traditional Eurosceptic, low-tax Tory principles.

Unease has been growing on Conservative back benches at the power and influence of Mr Clegg in the Coalition, with MPs complaining that Mr Cameron has been forced to water down policies on Europe, tax cuts, human rights, NHS reforms and the family.

Grinning: Mr Miliband can barely contain his excitement as he meets supporters in Birmingham this afternoon

Right-wingers led by David Davis and John Redwood will argue that a more radical economic strategy is needed, proposing targeted tax cuts, deeper spending cuts and an end to expensive environmental regulation.

The Prime Minister is under pressure to champion more traditional Conservative policies on law and order and education.

Eurosceptic Tories also want Mr Cameron to consider offering a referendum on Britain’s future in the EU.

Nervous before the result: Ken Livingstone kisses wife Emma outside his house this morning as he takes Coco the family pet for a long walk. Boris Johnson, right, jumps on his bike as he heads to work this morning 

Top cat: Respect Party leader George Galloway celebrates in Bradford after winning five seats from Labour - including the leader of the council

TODAY'S POLL  

They suggest such a dramatic move would energise Conservative support on election day.

Tory MPs drew some comfort from the fact that Labour’s performance, while solid at around 38 per cent of the vote to the Tories’ 31 per cent, did not indicate a party cruising towards General Election victory.

Tory MP Douglas Carswell told the Huffington Post website: ‘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.’

‘He needs to focus on bread-and-butter issues like jobs and mortgages and public services and, above all, to develop a clear route map to growth, and stop fixating on the agenda of a liberal clique around him and barmy policies such as Lords reform and gay marriage, which people either don’t like or don’t care about.

‘There is a growing frustration from many Conservative backbenchers that their views are not being listened to.’

Eleanor Laing, a former shadow minister, called for Mr Cameron to overrule the Lib Dems on more issues.

‘Let us remember that the Liberal Democrats make up one sixth of the Coalition, not one half of the Coalition,’ she said.

‘David can listen rather more to Conservative MPs, who represent the real people of this country, and give rather less regard to the Liberal Democrat intellectual urban elite, with their student politics idea of reforming the constitution and taking forward green policies.’

Centrist Tory MP Gary Streeter said party supporters were ‘gagging’ for some more traditional Right-wing policies in areas such as law and order.

But senior figures including Foreign Secretary William Hague insisted that abandoning the centre ground and shifting to the Right would be futile.

HOW DID YOUR AREA PERFORM? CHECK THE LIVE UPDATE OF RESULTS

There are 181 councils in England, Scotland and Wales up for election - 128 English councils, 32 unitary authorities in Scotland and 21 Welsh unitary authorities.

The live results are:

By Tony Travers Professor of Government, London School of Economics

The 2012 local elections  were bad for the Conservatives, but by no means as bad as  some of the mid-term blues that have hit governments in the past.

Although Labour has made respectable progress, it cannot see gains of a little over 800 councillors as evidence it will certainly win a 2015 general election.

Labour’s vote share was about 38 per cent, way above some of its poll ratings a few months ago, but not as impressive as the 42 per cent it achieved during the Tory governments of the late 1980s and 1990s. Back then, the Tories sank as low as 27 per cent.

If Ed Miliband is to be sure of national success, he needs to see Labour poll over 40 per cent in local elections for several years running.

Of the smaller parties, Ukip made good progress in terms of vote share in seats where they stood, though they did not win any new councillors.

The party’s surge is evidence of dissident Conservatives making a protest. In the past, Ukip has been able to make occasional and exciting interventions into British voting, but has subsequently faded away. It has generally done well when the Tories are unpopular – something the Lib Dems once did. Ukip, the Greens and other minor parties can expect to prosper more as an opportunity for protest voting in future.

Meet and greet: A very pleased Mr Miliband, surrounded by party placards and Union flags, shakes hands with Labour voters as he celebrates in Birmingham today

So just how bad were these results for the Conservatives? Their national vote share was  31 per cent, well down on last year. However,  their loss of seats was far smaller than those suffered by Mrs Thatcher or Tony Blair in their worst years.

For example, more than once during the  1980s, Mrs Thatcher lost 1,000 seats in a year,  and in 1999 and 2003, Mr Blair suffered similar losses. Yet both went on to win the next  general elections.

For the Lib Dems, who have lost their ‘protest vote’ status, this result is another body blow added to the one they suffered last year. They have lost more than 300 councillors and have slumped to a total of under 3,000 across Britain. This is their lowest number since the mid-1980s and is sure to spark growing disquiet within the party’s rank and file.

Hug a brummie: Mr Miliband embraces victorious councillors in Birmingham today, where Labour beat the Tories to take control of the council

Next year, there will be shire county elections, with the prospect of a further, possibly worse, battering. Fewer councillors means fewer activists and thus, the inevitability of fewer MPs.

Local elections should be about clean streets, bins, council tax and a decent environment. Inevitably, though, they are used as a real-time opinion poll about David, Ed and Nick. In reality some  perfectly good Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors will have lost their seats because of the Coalition’s recent shambolic activities.

However, London’s City Hall race, between Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone, showed what an extraordinary vote-winner Boris is. With his  party well behind Labour in the national vote, Johnson radically out-performed the Tories across the capital.

Clegg and Co on the rocks says one of his own peers

Saddened: It was a bad day for Clegg and the Liberal Democrats

Nick Clegg was last night warned by one of his own peers that the Liberal Democrats could cease to be a viable force at the next general election.

The Deputy Prime Minister said he was ‘saddened’ after the Lib Dems lost more than 300 councillors, or 40 per cent of the seats they contested.

The party’s slump means it now has fewer than 3,000 councillors for the first time since the 1980s.

Lord Oakeshott, a key ally of Vince Cable, warned the party could not afford to fight the next general election if it received a similar ‘hammering’.

He said: ‘We have got to face it – we have had another very substantial swathe of our crucial activist base wiped away.

‘For me, what matters is whether we can fight the next election as a nationwide, powerful, independent force, and if we have another year like this, we won’t be able to. Unless there is a change, both coalition partners and our country are heading for the rocks.’

John Curtice, professor in politics at Strathclyde University, said the Lib Dems’ base was at ‘serious risk of disappearing entirely’.

He said: ‘Nick Clegg’s claims that voters are starting to listen to the party have been shown to have not any credibility to them at all.’

Competition: Brian Paddick was struggling to come even fourth in the mayoral election, way behind front runners Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone

PM'S PLAN FOR CITY MAYORS IS GIVEN A BIG THUMBS DOWN

David Cameron’s hope of putting a ‘Boris in every city’ is in tatters after voters rejected plans for elected mayors.

The Prime Minister had claimed  his proposals would boost local accountability.

But they were dismissed – often  by very large margins – by the  electorates in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield,  Nottingham, Coventry, Wakefield  and Bradford.

Leeds was also expected to reject the plans. Only Bristol voted Yes, while Doncaster decided to retain its directly elected mayor, the English Democrat Peter Davies, and Liverpool voted in Labour’s council leader Joe Anderson as its first elected mayor. The city accepted a deal in February which would install a mayor in return for £130million in additional government funds.

The widespread rejection of his pet project is a bitter blow to the Prime Minister, who has sought in vain to make localism a defining principle of his government.

He had attempted to drum up support for the plans by citing the example of Boris Johnson in London. But critics of the proposals condemned them on the grounds that they would have led to the creation of yet another expensive tier of bureaucracy.

The blueprint for elected mayors was drawn up by Mr Cameron’s policy guru Steve Hilton.  It will be scant consolation to him that the Yes vote in Bristol may have been influenced by the fact that Mr Cameron made his keynote speech backing the plans in that city last month.

The results are also a blow for Labour, which had hoped to ride the party’s rising political tide to win the high profile posts. Senior Labour MP Sion Simon quit Parliament to run for Mayor of Birmingham. Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne also planned to walk out to fight for the post.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps defended the mayoral referendums, saying: ‘People should have the right to decide how they are governed in their local area.’ He added: ‘The whole point is to give people a say. No one is forcing mayors on anyone.’

But Tory MP Douglas Carswell, a passionate advocate of more local powers, accused the Government of seeking to impose a one-size-fits-all model on each city. He said: ‘The case in favour of dispersing power outward and downward from Whitehall remains strong.

Perhaps the lesson from yesterday is that directly elected mayors ain’t the way to do it.’

However Lib Dem support held up well in areas where there they had sitting MPs and a strong activist base. Mr Clegg insisted his party would ‘continue to play our role’ in Government dealing with the economic crisis.

Speaking outside his £2million London home, he said: ‘I am really sad that so many colleagues and friends, Liberal Democrat councillors, who have worked so hard, so tirelessly for so many years for communities and families in their local areas have lost their seats.’

He added: ‘I am determined that we will continue to play our role in rescuing, repairing and reforming the British economy.’

However the party was facing a near wipe-out on the Greater London Assembly, where its mayoral candidate Brian Paddick was struggling to even come fourth.

Former Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik even said Mr Clegg should quit as party leader – but stay on as Deputy Prime Minister.

‘The writing is on the wall here. There is nothing constitutionally to make Clegg have to be leader and Deputy Prime Minister; he needs to split the roles,’ he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

Mr Opik called for Mr Clegg to be replaced with a figure from the left of the party to win back disgruntled activists.

Tim Farron, the party president, also suggested the defeats had been down to the Coalition.

He said: ‘I am sorry, genuinely sorry. Those guys lost their seats last night not through their fault but through our fault, because of where we are nationally, being in government.’

In Sunderland, councillor Paul Dixon, who lost his seat to the Labour candidate, blamed Mr Clegg for his defeat.

Mr Dixon said: ‘I put it down to the Nick Clegg and his cronies in Government.

‘It’s definitely all down to the national issues and it’s a shame people have not voted on the local issues.

‘Nick Clegg should take a real hard look at what they are doing as it has been really bad tonight. He needs to listen, he’s got to do something.

‘Come the next general election we will also start to lose our MPs if he doesn’t do something now.’

 The Lib Dem leadership was also told to quit getting ‘bogged down’ in Lords reform and an overhaul of the Commons by one of its own MPs.

John Pugh said the Coalition should focus on jobs and think ‘very hard’ before diving into constitutional reform.

Mr Pugh, the Lib Dem MP for Southport, said: ‘Nick is not directly responsible for them losing their seats, but certainly the way the Coalition presents itself is a problem for local Liberal Democrats as they are trying to do the best for their community.’

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