Wales politics

Local elections: Labour can 'learn' from Welsh party

Wayne David
Image caption Wayne David said Jeremy Corbyn had been subjected to "very hard" press coverage

Labour in England can learn from the Welsh party's local election performance, its general election campaign chairman in Wales has said.

Labour lost control of Blaenau Gwent and Bridgend, and its leader in Merthyr Tydfil, but held seven councils.

Wayne David said the Tories made fewer gains than expected as Welsh Labour was "in touch with people's realities".

The highlight for Conservatives was winning a majority in Monmouthshire, but they also made progress elsewhere.

Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies said his party made "huge strides in the Vale of Glamorgan, doubled our representation in Wrexham, and reached double digits right in the backyard of the first minister [in Bridgend]".

Labour held seven councils, including Cardiff, Swansea and Newport, despite the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru making inroads into their vote.

Image caption Andrew RT Davies said the party had lots of work to do before the general election on 8 June

Ten Welsh councils now have no party in overall control, the Liberal Democrats failed to make gains, UKIP did not win any seats while independents won many seats across Wales and now control Blaenau Gwent.

As political parties began focusing all efforts on June's general election, Mr David told BBC Wales: "We have a Labour Party in Wales which is in touch with people's realities, we have a very effective leader in Carwyn Jones and we're going to stress that we are the party of Wales, we are the party of devolution."

Labour in England, he said, might want to "learn some lessons from Wales", where Welsh Labour ministers were introducing "very effective and popular" policies.

Asked if Jeremy Corbyn was an electoral asset, Mr David said: "Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of the Labour Party...he's had a very, very hard press, I think it's our job to make sure that people recognise Jeremy for the honest, decent person which he is."

Image caption Leanne Wood said Plaid had nearly achieved its highest number of seats in local elections

Mr Davies said the Conservatives were taking nothing for granted in Wales.

"We know there's a huge amount of work to do, to keep that confidence, earn that trust, so that we can build Theresa May into the strong prime minister we want her to be to negotiate on Brexit," he said.

Plaid Cymru increased its majority in Gwynedd and announced it would continue running Carmarthenshire in coalition with independent councillors, as it remains the party with the largest number of seats there.

Plaid also overtook independents to be the largest group in Anglesey, but it remains a council with no party in overall control.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said: "We are now the biggest party in Rhondda and we've made significant gains from the Labour Party in their own strongholds such as Neath, Aberavon and Blaenau Gwent."

Image caption Mark Williams says the Lib Dems will stand up for people in a way that Labour no longer does

She added: "Across Wales there will be more Plaid Cymru councillors defending their communities and standing up to the Tories.

"The story in Wales is Plaid Cymru and Tory gains versus Labour and UKIP losses.

"Only Plaid Cymru is fit to defend our communities and defend our country from the Tories in Westminster."

The Liberal Democrats lost 11 councillors across Wales, with its Welsh leader Mark Williams conceding "it may take us time to rebuild and to reform" but insisting "we are ready for the fight ahead".

"We are ready to fight for an open, tolerant and united Wales in the [EU] single market," he said.

"From our town and county halls to Westminster, people want a strong opposition who will stand up for them. Labour have abandoned that role."

UKIP fielded 80 candidates and returned no councillors but the party's leader in the Welsh Assembly, Neil Hamilton, said they would bounce back.

"It's clearly a very disappointing result but UKIP will live to fight another day," he told BBC Radio Wales.

"I believe the wheel of fortune will turn. We may be back to where we were five years ago but look what we achieved after that."

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