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2005 United Kingdom 2007
United Kingdom local elections, 2006
176 English district councils
4 May 2006
First party Second party Third party
Leader David Cameron Tony Blair Menzies Campbell
Party Conservative Labour Liberal Democrat
Leader since 6 December 2005 21 July 1994 2 March 2006
Percentage 39% 26% 25%
Councils 68 30 13
Councils +/- +11 -17 +1
Councillors 1830 1439 909
Councillors +/- +316 −319 +2

Local government elections took place in England (only) on Thursday 4 May 2006. Polling stations were open between 7:00 and 22:00.

All London borough council seats were up for election, as well as a third of the seats on each of the metropolitan borough councils, and a third of some unitary authorities and shire districts. Several councils elected half of their seats: these were Adur, Cheltenham, Fareham, Gosport, Hastings, Nuneaton and Bedworth, and Oxford City. Local elections follow a four-year cycle, and the 2006 election was the follow-on from the 2002 elections.

Mayoral contests were held in the London boroughs of Hackney, Lewisham and Newham, and in Watford. Crewe and Nantwich held a referendum on the issue of whether or not to have a directly elected mayor.


Results 2006

For the full list of results, including a summary for each Council, please see United Kingdom local elections, 2006 full results.

Note:Figures for number of councils and councillors is only in regard to those councils up for election in 2006, and does not include councils not up for election.

Party Councils Councillors
Gain Loss Change Total Gain Loss Change Total
Conservative 14 3 +11 68 +316 1830
Labour 1 18 –17 30 –319 1439
Liberal Democrat 3 2 +1 13 +2 909
Residents Associations 0 0 0 0 –13 35
BNP 0 0 0 0 +27 32
Green 0 0 0 0 +20 29
Respect 0 0 0 0 +13 16
Liberal 0 0 0 0 -2 8
Health Concern 0 0 0 0 +1 5
Christian Peoples 0 0 0 0 3 1 +2 3
Socialist Alternative 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 3
UKIP 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1
Other 0 0 0 0 –50 108
No overall control 18 13 +5 65

Pre-election predictions

On April 7, a report produced by the University of Plymouth for Newsnight, based on results of council by-elections in the past three months, suggested that, compared to the 2002 local elections:

  • Labour would increase their national vote share by 2% to 28% but that they would lose around 130 seats.
  • The Conservatives would suffer a decrease in the national vote share of 4% leaving them with 33% and a loss of around 95 seats.
  • The Liberal Democrats would increase their vote share by 2% to 29% and would gain around 190 seats.[1]

This prediction may be seen to be almost entirely inaccurate.

Projected national share

In an analysis for the Sunday Times, psephologists Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher, of the University of Plymouth, produced an estimate of the national share of the vote. According to their calculations, the parties would have the following share of the vote:

  • Conservative: 39%
  • Labour: 26%
  • Liberal Democrats: 25%
  • Others: 10%

They note that this is estimate not intended to predict the vote share in an actual general election, because voters often vote differently in general elections due to local issues, or to a wish to "fire a shot across the government's bows" without actually removing it.[2]

The BBC had a similar national share prediction, based on the results of 950 key wards:

  • Conservative: 40%
  • LibDem: 27%
  • Labour: 26%
  • Others: 7%[3]

Notable battles

  • In Birmingham, the Acting Returning Officer announced that the votes in the Kingstanding ward had been incorrectly tallied, incorrectly giving a win to the BNP's Sharon Ebanks, whereas she should have been in third place. The only way in which this result can be corrected is for one of the candidates to raise a petition to the courts; the council has said it will support in any way it can any candidates who wish to raise such a petition.[4]
  • In Crawley, after three recounts, one result showed 500 votes for the Labour candidate and 500 for the Conservative. As per electoral law, the candidates subsequently drew lots. The Conservative candidate Adam G. Brown won, giving his party a majority and switching the council from Labour to Conservative control for the first time since 1971.
  • Another count was tied in St Albans, this time between Conservative and Lib Dem candidates on 1131 votes each. The candidates drew lots with the Lib Dems winning, giving them a majority on the local council.
  • In Chester the Conservatives were in third place in one ward, with around only 20% of the votes (in 2004), however they managed to win the seat with a majority of around 20%, and a 45% vote share. Their vote increased by over 110%, and was believed to be one of the largest increases in vote share (as a percentage) in the country.

Campaign launches


United Kingdom Independence Party

United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) launched their local election campaign on March 28, 2006,[5] where they put forward their policies for the local elections which included: the reduction of council tax by 50%; local binding referendums on major issues; and giving councils control of business rates and letting them receive the proceeds from stamp duty.

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats' campaign launch was held on April 3, 2006[6] and was led by Sir Menzies Campbell MP.[7]


Labour's campaign for the local elections was launched on April 5, 2006[8] and was led by the Prime Minister, Tony Blair MP (Lab, Sedgefield) and the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Blair's expected successor, Gordon Brown MP (Lab, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath) in the wake of rumours of a split between the two over when Blair should stand down as PM.[9]

Respect - The Unity Coalition

Respect launched their election manifesto on April 10, 2006 calling the local elections a referendum on New Labour.[10]

The Green Party

The Greens launched their campaign on April 11, 2006, having already announced that 1,300 candidates will be standing across the country.[11][12]

British National Party

The BNP launched their election manifesto on April 14, 2006. Soon after, Margaret Hodge, the Labour Employment Minister, told the press that 8 out of 10 white voters in her east London constituency of Barking admitted being tempted to vote for the BNP, hinting that the party's share of council seats was set to increase.[13]

The Conservatives

The Conservatives launched their campaign on April 18. David Cameron, Eric Pickles, Caroline Spelman and Peter Ainsworth fronted a press conference that focused on environmental issues.[14]


28 March 2006

  • UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) launch local election campaign.[5]

29 March 2006

  • The London Communications Agency issue a study suggesting that the Conservatives would gain a minimum of six London Borough councils.[15]

3 April 2006

  • The Liberal Democrats launch local election campaign.[16]

4 April 2006

  • Independent anti-war strategic voting web site launched in London.[17]

5 April 2006

  • Labour launch their local election campaign.[18]
  • Conservatives offer a chance for "ordinary people" to appear in the local election broadcast.[19]

10 April 2006

  • Respect launch their local election campaign.[20]

14 April 2006

  • The British National Party launch their election campaign.

18 April 2006

  • The first party election broadcast by the Labour Party depicts David Cameron MP (Con, Witney) as a chamleon and even launch a website to promote the idea.[21] See also: Dave the Chameleon

19 April 2006

  • The Conservative Election Broadcast (using the tagline "Vote Blue Go Green") was presented by people responding to the Conservatives request for "ordinary people" as reported on April 5, 2006

20 April 2006

  • The Liberal Democrat Election Broadcast recounted the election of Menzies Campbell MP as leader

24 April 2006

  • The Green Party Election Broadcast asks voters to use their multi member vote to elect Greens onto their local council.

26 April 2006

In a day described by the tabloid press as "New Labour's Black Wednesday", three cabinet ministers have three different 'crises' on the same day.

27 April 2006

  • Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell MP challenges the Conservatives over their 'Vote Blue Go Green' campaign.

28 April 2006

  • Local Government Minister David Miliband MP urges voters to "think local" rather than on national issues.

2 May 2006

  • The Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats criticise the Labour Party for taking credit for London's successful Olympic bid in their Party Election Broadcast.
  • The West Midlands Police confirm their presence at Birmingham polling stations on election day amid fears of widespread ballot fraud.

3 May 2006

  • The final PMQs before the election sees party leaders debating national scandals and Labour Party insiders predicting the worst results since 1968.[22]

4 May 2006

  • The Labour Party acknowledges it could face the loss of former strongholds and even slip into third place nationally in local government numbers.[23]



External links

Preceded by
United Kingdom local elections, 2005
UK local elections Succeeded by
United Kingdom local elections, 2007


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