Labour had a lot to lose in the North East & Cumbria.
It is the party that dominates its town halls - but it took some heavy hits
Sunderland’s voters delivered the early blows - 12 councillors gone.
Then Hartlepool was lost; losses in Allerdale hit double
figures and, to add insult to injury, there was a by-election defeat in a
usually reliable part of County Durham.
And the party’s problems in northern Mayoral races
continue as their candidates trailed in a distant second to Independents in Middlesbrough and Copeland.
Local leaders were quick to point to Brexit confusion.
But that just highlights the party’s dilemma. While their leader in Sunderland
claims flirting with a new referendum cost him councillors, Newcastle’s Labour
leader says a failure to fully back one backfired.
And it just seems voters wanted anyone but Labour in some
places. How else to explain gains for UKIP, Greens, Lib Dems, Independents and
As the establishment in the region, perhaps some sort of
kicking for Labour was inevitable. But do not discount local factors.
It may be
convenient - and partly justified - for council leaders to blame events in
Westminster, but anyone who has talked to voters in the region will know that
some Labour regimes here are far from loved.
And last night’s losses are likely
to continue in other parts of the patch as more results come in.