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  1. ITV Report

Labour results show recapture of traditional supporters

Ed Miliband and Ed Balls will take comfort from the overnight poll results. Photo: REUTERS/David Moir

Labour will take particular comfort in the local election results so far from what they tell us about the party's overall share of the vote.

Labour usually struggles to match its opinion poll ratings with real votes in the ballot box.

Not this time.

Even given a low turnout, a Labour share in the very high 30%s shows that the party has managed to recapture many of its traditional supporters.

It is polling nearly 10 points better than at the time of its crushing general election defeat in 2010.

Support for the Conservatives appears to have fallen back even in the last week or so.

They have lost more seats and, importantly, more councils than they probably expected.

Dudley and Southampton were on few people's lists for straight losses to Labour.

David Cameron will try to shrug off the results as 'midterm blues' and indeed there is nothing necessarily terminal for the government in these results.

However, defeated Conservatives in local government are already weighing in with advice on what they should do on subjects from the economy to gay marriage via Jeremy Hunt and House of Lords reform.

"David Cameron will be knowing in the next week or so exactly how I feel," said Cllr Vivien Pengelly, outgoing Conservative leader of Plymouth City Council.

'Bruised' Lib Dems

For the second year running, however, it is the Lib Dems who will feel most bruised.

They now have fewer than 3,000 councillors across the country for the first time in a quarter of a century and little prospect of bouncing back any time soon.

The oxygen of publicity that they often received from spectacular parliamentary by-election victories now seems a distant memory.

Worse, because they are the least well funded party they rely more than their rivals on the work of activists on the ground.

The fewer councillors they have, the fewer people to do the essential electoral leg work.

And many of them will be asking: What's the coalition done for us?

No significant UKIP breakthrough

Of the minor parties, UKIP has upped its vote share but made no signifcant breakthrough in terms of councillors elected.

Respect, on the other hand, has made sufficient gains from Labour in Bradford to deprive it of an overall majority in what should have been one of the night's easiest gains for Ed Miliband's party.

A rare blip on a good night for Labour...but still with the results in Glasgow and for the London mayor to come.

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