UK Politics

Elections 2011: SNP steals show amid Lib Dem woe

SNP leader Alex Salmond
Image caption SNP leader Alex Salmond celebrated as his party made gains at Labour's expense

The elections have been a severe disappointment for the Lib Dems, provided a measure of relief to the Tories, and served up some mixed success for Labour. But it is the SNP who have so far stolen the show.

The party is set to win a majority of the constituency seats in Scotland for the first time in its history. Meanwhile, early signs from the list vote as declared in individual constituencies suggest that it is possible that the SNP might secure an overall majority, so strong is its advance in these results as well.

A number of senior Labour figures in Scotland have lost their seats, including finance spokesman Andy Kerr and justice spokeswoman Pauline McNeill.

The Scottish Leader Iain Gray only just managed to hang on to his seat by 151 votes.

In England, however, the news has been better for Labour. In the local elections, the party is estimated by the BBC to have secured 37% of the projected national share, up 10 points on its performance in last year's local elections held on the same day as the general election.

However, it is far from clear that the party will manage to make the 1,000 gains that some have argued it ought to make in these elections.

Labour's vote has increased more rapidly in its traditional territory, such as the north of England, and seats with relatively large numbers of manual workers, rather than in the Middle England territory where it would most like to make progress and where such progress would bring a bigger yield of seat gains.

Tories steady

However, in Wales Labour has had better news and so far is performing sufficiently well in the constituency and list votes to have a prospect of winning an overall majority.

The Conservatives are so far estimated to have won 35% of the projected national share, the same as in last year's local elections.

To date, the losses of seats suffered by the party, primarily to Labour, are more or less matched by the gains it has secured from the Lib Dems.

If this pattern continues, the Conservatives can be expected to regard it as a considerable achievement after one year in office.

Meanwhile, the party has also performed creditably in Wales, where its share of the constituency vote is so far up by two points, and the party seems likely to overtake Plaid Cymru as the second largest party in the Senedd.

However, the Tory vote is down by three points in Scotland where the party looks likely to record its worst-ever performance.

But for the Lib Dems there is little sign of a silver lining. At 15%, the party's projected share of the local vote would represent its worst ever performance in local elections since its formation following the merger of the Liberals and the SDP.

Its support appears to have fallen particularly heavily in wards that it was defending together with wards that were previously held by Labour.

Meanwhile, the Lib Dem vote has fallen disastrously in both Scotland and Wales. At present, it is down by seven points in Scotland and by four points in Wales.

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