Much like an alcoholic on New Year’s Day, Britain’s politicians woke up from the latest round of local elections looking hungover, feeling horribly disoriented, and desperately trying to work out what happened the night before.
With 128 English councils, 32 Scottish councils, 21 Welsh councils, and the London Assembly up for election, May 3’s polls were a crucial test not merely for David Cameron’s struggling coalition, but also for Ed Miliband’s opposition Labour Party.
There’s no doubt that the result was dramatic. Losing 405 councillors and ceding control of 12 councils, Cameron’s Conservatives were left shame-faced as Labour seized 823 new council seats and a controlling presence in 32 additional councils. The Liberal Democrats – junior partners in the governing coalition – were all but obliterated. 336 councillors lost their seats, leaving the party at the lowest ebb in its history.
But if the results seem dramatic, one really big question is still hanging in the air: who really won?