Local elections 2017: Tory smiles and Labour grimaces

Conservative candidate for Chelmsford Central, Dick Madden, celebrates with colleagues after retaining his seat in the Essex County Council local elections Image copyright PA
Image caption Conservatives have made gains across England and Wales

It's early, early days. But so far there will be grimaces at Labour HQ, beaming smiles at the Tory's CCHQ, and a slightly frazzled atmosphere at Lib Dem homes this morning - and don't be surprised if you see Nigel Farage at his favourite boozer by lunchtime.

There are lots and lots of results still to come in.

But with a general election only a month away, this barometer of real votes looks grim for the Labour Party.

Senior sources say that it is national share that will matter, and they want to compare it with the election in 2015.

But it is more accurate to look at the last time these seats were fought, which was in 2013.

In comparison with that, Labour is so far falling back badly, despite holding on in some parts of Wales.

Image caption Stephen Kinnock said the picture was 'disastrous' for Labour

And we've just seen the first big blast at the Labour leadership from Stephen Kinnock, calling the picture "disastrous", and urging voters to do what I expect we'll hear other candidates do repeatedly in the next few weeks - making a pitch for a strong opposition, rather than Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister.

The victims in most pain so far from voters' decisions yesterday are UKIP.

Their vote has been collapsing, with, it seems, swathes switching straight over to the Tories.

That is a political trick that Theresa May wants to repeat around the country in a few weeks' time.

UPDATE:

A senior Labour figure has just described the party's local election results as "catastrophic".

As the counts continue, this set of results is proving to be very disappointing for Jeremy Corbyn's party.

Officially the party is of course not as admitting as much, with sources suggesting in fact the result are not as bad as they had expected.

Yet another senior Labour politician, not one of Corbyn's prominent critics says, this is the "third time in a row we have gone backwards. There is no metric under which these results are not very bad."

I can't say enough that we need to be cautious about translating the results directly across to the General Election next month.

Yet they are a useful barometer of real votes, that set a depressing backdrop for Labour's prospects in June.

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