Driven by data; ridden with liberty.
After a fascinating day of counting and analysis on Friday, the 2017 local elections have concluded.
There were 34 councils up for election, comprised of 27 non-metropolitan county councils with a two-tier structure for local governance, and six unitary authorities and one metropolitan borough council (Doncaster).
In all 34 councils, single-member and multiple-member wards are elected through simple pluralities, with all seats up for election.
The Conservatives won a net of 319 seats, whilst Labour lost 142 (net) councillors. The Liberal Democrats suffered a smaller loss of 28 (net) seats. These changes are presented relative to their 2013 level, with boundary changes in some local authorities.
UKIP, however, lost every single division they were defending, and their sole seat was a gain from Labour (Padiham and Burnley West in Lancashire). The Greens were unchanged on 20 councillors.
In terms of councils, the Conservatives now have overall control of 27 of these 34 councils (up 10), and Labour have control of two (Doncaster and Durham, losing control of Derbyshire to the Conservatives).
As part of an English devolution deal, multiple local authorities were combined under the leadership of a directly-elected mayor, who would be in charge of economic development, as well as having powers over housing, transport and skills.
In the 2017 local elections, six combined authorities had their first election of their ‘metro mayor’. These elections were conducted under a supplementary vote system (where two preferences are expressed).
The Conservatives won four of the six elections, with Labour winning the other two. There were surprising and narrow victories for the Conservatives in the West Midlands (Andy Street) and Tees Valley (Ben Houchen).
It was more expected that Labour would triumph in Greater Manchester and Liverpool City, under former MPs Andy Burnham and Steve Rotherham, respectively.
In addition, Labour won both of the single authority mayoralty contests, in Doncaster (Ros Jones) and North Tyneside (Norma Redfearn).
In Scotland, all 32 local authorities were up for election. The previous election was in 2012. Some boundaries have changed, and this election was postponed for a year to avoid a clash with the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections.
Typically, each ward elects three or four councillors, under the single transferable vote system. Electronic counting systems are used to process the votes.
The SNP remain the largest party by some distance, by have fallen slightly by a notional net seven councillors. The Conservatives are now the second largest party in Scottish local government, gaining a net 164 councillors. Labour fell by a net of 133 seats.
The Liberal Democrats slid by a net three councillors, with the Greens gaining five. UKIP continue to have no representation in Scottish local government.
29 councils are now in no overall control, alongside three independent-run councils.
In Wales, all 22 local authorities were up for election, under the simple plurality electoral system in single-member and multi-member wards.
Similar to Scotland, the last elections were in 2012, but postponed for a year to avoid a clash with the 2016 Welsh Assembly elections, which was itself shifted a year to avoid clashing with the 2015 General Election.
Labour remain the largest party, but lost a net of 107 councillors. Plaid Cyrmu are formally the second largest party in Welsh local government, and gained a net 33 seats. Plaid Cymru are outnumbered by independent councillors. The Conservatives also gained a net 80 councillors.
The Liberal Democrats lost a net of 11 councillors, with the Greens gaining one seat (for a total of one), and UKIP lost both of their seats and all representation in Welsh local government.
The BBC’s projected national share, calculated by Professor John Curtice and Professor Stephen Fisher, had the Conservatives on 38% (an increase of 13 points relative to 2013), Labour on 27% (down two points), and the Liberal Democrats on 18% (an improvement of two points). UKIP were reduced to 5%, from 23% in 2013.
In 2015, Labour’s projected national share was 29%, and it was 31% in 2016.
Whilst the vote shares should not directly translated, falling to 27% in this PNS measure is not the typical performance of a party on the verge of triumphing in a general election.
Under this measure, the Conservatives had their best performance in local elections since 2004.