Their national share of the vote was only two percentage points more than that achieved when Michael Howard led the party in 2004, which was followed one year later by the Conservatives losing the general election with 158 seats less than Labour.T
he BBC’s Nick Robinson, himself a former Conservative, has said that there is no truth in the assumption that the Conservative party have demonstrated a broadening of their appeal.
He explains that they have merely consolidated in their heartlands in the South, with no reaching out to broader areas of voters. Robinson says that ‘Traditional Conservative voters are simply no longer embarrassed to vote for their party.’
Robinson’s interpretation is borne out by the BBC’s estimate that the Conservatives had a swing of 4% to them across the South, but they remained static in terms of votes cast across the north of England.
This lack of even the beginnings of a breakthrough is further supported by the fact that there is still not a single Conservative councillor in Manchester, Liverpool or Newcastle.
The Conservatives made no gains in Sheffield where they have only two councillors. The Liberal Democrats have 36 councillors on Sheffield City Council, as well as 38 in Manchester, 47 in Newcastle and 59 in Liverpool.
The Conservatives have only 2 councillors in Hull, where the Liberal Democrats have 22.
It is remarkable that there were no Conservative councillors elected in Liverpool, bearing mind that David Cameron took his whole shadow cabinet there shortly before the elections, amidst much publicity.
Likewise, the Tories held their Spring Conference in Manchester, with an identical flat-lining amongst their public support there.
There are also no Conservative councillors in Oxford.The Conservatives lost their last councillor on Cambridge City Council, so that there are now no Conservative councillors in our two great University cities.
In London, most of the Conservative gains were in West London, traditional Conservative territory - not in the East of the capital, where the Liberal Democrats did very well.
The Liberal Democrats…
Beat Labour in the national vote with a 27% share.
This is a 22% (or 5 percentage point) improvement on their share of the vote at the general election in 2005. This is only the second time that the Liberal Democrats have been ahead of Labour on that measure. A remarkable achievement for a party written off just a month ago.
The Liberal Democrats gained Richmond council from the Tories’ winning a staggering 17 seats from them. The Liberal Democrats now have twice as many councillors as the Conservatives who used to run the council before the election!
The Liberal Democrats gained control of St Albans with 31 seats against the Tories’ 18.
The Liberal Democrats gained control of South Lakeland gaining 9 councillors while the Conservatives lost 2. The Liberal Democrats now have 31 councillors against the Tories’ 18.
The Liberal Democrats gained four seats in Waltham Forest, overtaking the Conservatives to become the second party on the council, which remains under no overall control. The Conservatives lost 3 seats in this London Borough.
The Conservatives still do not have a single seat in Gateshead, while the Liberal Democrats won a seat off Labour to consolidate their position as the second largest party on the council.
The Conservatives still do not have a single seat in Knowsley, where the Liberal Democrats gained a seat off Labour.Lib Dem gains in Brent were very impressive, Lib Dems taking 13 from Labour and 3 from the Conservatives to become the council's largest party there.
Liberal Democrat gains from Conservatives resulted in the Conservatives losing control of Harrogate and West Lindsey (Lincolnshire).
And the Conservatives lost their last seat on Cambridge Council, with the city joining Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Oxford and others as Tory-free zones.
Lib Dem Chris Maines moves the party up to second place in the Lewisham Mayoral contest, beating the Conservative candidate.
Four Lib Dem gains in Gosport took away the Conservatives' majority there.
The Liberal Democrats held Sutton against a strong Conservative challenge.
The Lib Dems won 3 seats on Woking to become the largest party on the council, while the Conservatives are only in second place.
The Lib Dems gained three seats off the Conservatives in Worthing.
The Lib Dems remain the largest party in Bristol, where they gained a seat. The Lib Dems have more than two and a half times as many councillors as the Conservatives in Bristol.
The Lib Dems gained two seats in North East Lincolnshire, overtaking the Tories to become the largest party.
The Liberal Democrats outpolled Labour in Haringey in terms of votes cast, although narrowly (30-27) fail to take control of the council from Labour. There were 11 gains for Lib Dems from Labour.
The Conservatives still do not have a single councillor in Haringey.Lib Dems made 10 gains in Lewisham, south London, depriving Labour of overall control of the council. The Conservatives only have a measly three seats here.
Three Lib Dem gains from Labour in Oldham remove Labour's majority. The BNP fail to win a seat on the council, which they had targeted. The Conservatives lost a seat so that they only have one remaining seat in the town where Winston Churchill was the MP.
The Lib Dems also won half the seats in Rochdale, narrowly missing out on overall control. The Lib Dems now have three times as many seats as the Conservatives in Rochdale.
In Salford, the Lib Dems gained two seats. The Conservatives failed to gain a single seat and have lost their straight second place on the council.
The Lib Dems gained a seat in Solihull where the Conservatives failed to gain a single seat.
The Lib Dems gained a seat in St Helens where they now have more than three times as many seats as the Conservatives.
The Conservatives failed to win a single seat in Stockport where the Lib Dems remain in control with more than three times as many seats as the Conservatives.
Despite David Cameron holding up Trafford as a shining Conservative success, the Tories actually lost a seat to the Lib Dems on this council.
The Conservatives came a cropper in Walsall where they lost two seats to Labour.
Despite David Cameron holding up Wigan as an example of Conservative greatness, they are only narrowly the second party there with only one more seat than the Liberal Democrats.
The Conservatives made no gains in the Wirral, while the Liberal Democrats gained a seat.
In Camden there were 13 gains for the Lib Dems, making them the largest party with 20 councillors to Labour's 18.
The Tories are a distant third.Kingston-upon-Thames was held by the Lib Dems, restoring the three council 'band of gold' in south and south-west London with Sutton and Richmond.
The Lib Dems retained control of Islington on the mayor’s casting vote.
The Liberal Democrats retained control of Cambridge, Eastleigh, Liverpool, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Pendle, Stockport, Sutton, Three Rivers and Watford
The Lib Dems still have nearly twice as many councillors in Liverpool as Labour, in this, Labour’s former traditional heartland.
Dorothy Thornhill retains the mayoralty in Watford. Dorothy became the first Lib Dem directly elected mayor four years ago, and this time gained more than half of all votes cast to retain the post.
Good news for Lib Dems from two university cities. The party hold Cambridge and overtake Labour to become the largest party in Oxford, for the first time ever.
There were 2 Lib Dem gains in Jack Straw's Blackburn council which would have removed Labour's overall majority but for the recent defection of an independent councillor to Labour.
There were four Lib Dem gains in Warrington which deprived Labour of control of the council.
Lib Dems have held Stockport and gained St Albans. The latter was previously run on the chairman's casting vote - now Lib Dems have a majority of four.
Lib Dems have increased their majority on Newcastle-upon-Tyne Council to 18 seats.
Lib Dems have also increased their majority in Three Rivers Council in Hertfordshire, as well as holding neighbouring Watford.
Four gains for the Lib Dems in Derby deprive Labour of their majority on the council. The Lib Dems have a third more seats than the Tories here.
Lib Dems have held Pendle Council in Lancashire, retaining a majority of 11.
Also in the north west, Lib Dems have gained three seats on Rochdale, giving the party exactly half the councillors on the authority.
The Lib Dems are now the largest party on John Prescott's local council, Hull, having made four gains to overtake Labour.
The Lib Dems won a seat in the heart of Labour territory in Reading.
The Lib Dems won a seat on North Tyneside council.