Election 2015 England

Election 2015: Little drama and no surprises in Staffordshire

Image caption Counters waiting for the ballot boxes to be delivered in Stoke-on-Trent

On an election night of surprises and upsets, Staffordshire's political landscape remained remarkably flat.

Labour heartlands remained red, while recent Tory gains were consolidated - little drama, no surprises.

So what have the local election results taught us?

If anything, it is that there is no longer a safe Labour seat in Stoke-on-Trent.

Majorities that once soared into the tens of thousands have, in Stoke-on-Trent South, dwindled to below 3,000.

Why it has happened is less clear.

UKIP has chipped votes from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.

Perhaps voters were challenging the establishment, rather than swinging from left to right.

It is unclear, of course, whether UKIP can maintain its momentum for another five years, or whether the Liberal Democrats can rebuild any meaningful support.

One thing is clear - it will take a brave pundit to predict the likely outcome in five years' time.

Labour will be wondering how a city as historically left-wing as Stoke-on-Trent lost so many votes to the right-wing sensibilities of UKIP.

The startling collapse of the Liberal Democrats, largely at the expense of a surging UKIP vote, also helped to stir up an otherwise predictable election night.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Labour's Tristram Hunt could throw his hat into the ring for the leadership contest

Labour's Shadow Education Secretary (and possible future party leader), Tristram Hunt, held on to his Stoke-on-Trent Central seat.

But UKIP fought hard and took more than one fifth of the vote, narrowly edging out the Conservatives to finish in second place.

The Liberal Democrats, second here in 2010, collapsed to fifth.

Ruth Smeeth entered parliament in the vacated Stoke-on-Trent North seat of departing Labour stalwart Joan Walley with a reduced majority, and Rob Flello just about held on in Stoke-on-Trent South, with the Tories and UKIP both nipping at his heels.

Labour only just held on in Newcastle-under-Lyme, one of the Tories' top targets.

With Paul Farrelly's majority cut to less than 700, it will be even higher on their hit-list next time.

And in Stafford, an expected Labour challenge to the Conservatives' Jeremy Lefroy ebbed away, despite a promise of action to bring services back to County Hospital.

More on this story