Labour victory celebrated in city

Northern Liberal Democrats are sending a clear message to Nick Clegg this weekend. You need to toughen up in your dealings with the Conservatives or face more electoral humiliation.

And one former parliamentary candidate has gone further.

Gateshead councillor Ron Beadle - who stood for parliament in Newcastle North - says going into coalition was a grievous mistake electorally.

And he wants party members to take their revenge on any of their MPs who broke their pledge on tuition fees.

He says they should be prepared to deselect the likes of Nick Clegg, Vince Cable and Chris Huhne, to re-establish trust with the public.

Toxic Tory brand?

The party's outgoing Newcastle Council leader David Faulkner does not go as far.

But he says his party struggled to cope with the Lib Dems' association with what he calls the "toxic brand" of Conservatism.

He says Nick Clegg and other Lib Dem ministers need to be more robust to get more out of the coalition and then shout about it.

There are questions for the other two main parties to answer too though.

The Conservatives might be relieved that much of the media focus has been on the Lib Dem loss in Newcastle.

Because a look at the figures shows they had just as difficult a night in the North East.

They lost 22 seats - exactly the same number as the Lib Dems.

Hard-fought progress in Sunderland and Darlington was undone.

Mayor's future uncertain

And the loss of six seats in North Tyneside does not bode well for the future of their elected mayor Linda Arkley too.

And in Cumbria, they did worse than the Lib Dems - losing 10 seats.

They also failed to make any breakthrough in South Lakeland where Lib Dem support held firm.

Only in North Yorkshire - where they benefited from the Lib Dem collapse - did they make any gains.

Encouragement for Labour?

Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption Progress in North East?: Labour gained Newcastle Council

And then there's Labour.

On the face of it their net gain across the region of 89 seats is encouraging.

But scratch below the surface and there might be some concern in three crucial areas.

In last year's general election, Labour lost their seats in Carlisle and Stockton South to the Conservatives and Redcar to the Lib Dems.

This time round in Carlisle, the party did take one Lib Dem seat, but could not claim any from the Conservatives.

Some progress in North East

In Stockton, Labour made gains but failed to take control, and in the Stockton South, part of the local authority area, the Conservative vote held up.

And although the party did win control of Redcar and Cleveland Council, the Lib Dems managed to retain 16 seats, many in Redcar town itself.

So progress, yes, but more work definitely needed to have any certainty of taking those three seats back.

And piling up seats in a heartland like the North East is all very well, but without major breakthroughs in the areas they lost in 2010, Labour won't get back into government.