23 May 2014
Last updated at 12:27
Ed Miliband has pledged to win back voters from UKIP in time for next year’s general election.
Despite Nigel Farage’s party eating into Labour’s vote, the Labour leader pointed to successes in Croydon, Hastings and Cambridge.
With 71 councils declared, his party had gained 125 seats overall, taking control of five authorities.
Gains included the flagship Tory council Hammersmith and Fulham, but it lost Thurrock under pressure from UKIP.
Mr Miliband there was “a was deep sense of discontent” among voters.
He added: “You also saw some people turning to UKIP and I am determined that over the next year we persuade them that we can change their lives for the better.”
Labour had hoped to make gains in Swindon, Walsall and Tamworth but fell short – in part – because of UKIP, according to one former minister.
“There’s no doubt about it, UKIP are biting into parts of Labour’s working-class vote,” David Lammy said.
Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander, Labour’s election strategist, said the results reflected an “anger and alienation” among the electorate, saying “politics as usual is not an adequate response”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Labour can win the general election if we take the right steps between now and a year’s time.”
Labour pointed to its increased vote share in Swindon and other marginal areas, and it gained Croydon from the Conservatives.
But backbench MP and longstanding critic of his party’s leader Graham Stringer said Labour’s election campaign had been “unforgivably unprofessional”.
The Blackley and Broughton MP pointed to an appearance by Mr Miliband on breakfast television when he was asked about how much he spends on groceries.
“The centrepiece of our campaign has been the cost of living and Ed didn’t know his own cost of living, he didn’t know how much he was spending on shopping.”
Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna rejected the criticisms, but with UKIP performing well he said it was now clear the UK was in an “era of four-party politics”.
Overnight, senior party figures tried to downplay expectations – insisting a gain of 150 seats would be a success.
But election experts have said the party should be looking in the region of 300 – 500 if it wants to show its on course to win the 2015 general election.
During the campaign Mr Miliband focused on telling voters he would bring the cost of childcare and renting a home down, and push the minimum wage up.
He also highlighted his party’s pledges to freeze energy bills, build more homes, ban zero-hours contracts, cut business rates, and introduce a “job guarantee” for young people.
Labour is hoping to top the poll in the UK in the European elections, which also took place on Thursday, although the final opinion poll in the campaign put UKIP ahead by 1%.
Results from the European election are not expected until late on Sunday when other nations have been to the polls.
23 May 2014 | 12:27 pm – Source: bbc.co.uk