David Cameron was warned today that he must return to “traditional policies” after bruising defeats in the local elections and his dream of elected mayors left in tatters.
Senior Conservatives blamed the “Jeremy Hunt fiasco”, support for gay marriage and a series of national rows over the budget, as the party looked set to lose more than 400 local seats. Initial estimates from the BBC show Labour with 39 per cent of the vote, the Tories with 31 per cent and the Lib Dems on 16 per cent, with a low turn-out of 32 per cent.
In a further blow, many cities, including Nottingham, Coventry and Manchester, voted against the Mr Cameron’s plan for directly-elected mayors to replace council leaders. Despite the heavy Conservative losses, William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, insisted that “it’s not a matter of going right or left”.
“These results, while it is never a good feeling to lose councillors, are well within the normal range of mid-term results for governments,” he said.