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National picture: Coalition woe as Labour makes gains
2:46am Friday 4th May 2012 in News
The coalition endured a battering as Labour racked up heavy gains in local elections.
The Opposition claimed it was "exceeding expectations" by seizing control of key councils such as Thurrock, Harlow, Southampton, Birmingham, Great Yarmouth and Chorley.
David Cameron was also embarrassed by losses in the backyard of his Commons constituency - with Labour taking the seats of Witney Central, Witney East and Chipping Norton.
In a further blow, Nottingham ignored pleas from the Prime Minister and rejected proposals for an elected mayor. It voted against by 57.5 per cent to 42.5 per cent, with other cities expected to follow suit.
The Liberal Democrats were not spared pain, suffering a further cull of their councillors as voters seemingly punished the Government for austerity measures.
However, there were rumours of a setback for Labour in Bradford, with speculation the party's council leader could have been defeated by a Respect candidate.
The result would emulate George Galloway's shock success in last month's parliamentary by-election.
The Tories also pointed to a low turnout, estimated at around 30 per cent, suggesting that "apathy" had played a significant part in the results.