UK's Labour Party losing ground in local and regional elections

Reuters News
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Posted: May 05, 2016 11:41 PM

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's opposition Labour Party looks set to lose ground in regional and local elections, partial results showed on Friday, pointing to a dip in support that could challenge the authority of the party's leader Jeremy Corbyn.

In the biggest test of the political mood since David Cameron's Conservative Party won a national election a year ago, Britons voted on Thursday to elect new devolved authorities in Scotland and Wales, more than 2,700 local officials across England and a new mayor of the nation's capital city, London.

The elections have been framed as a test of Corbyn's first eight months in charge of Labour after his surprise victory in an internal leadership contest last September shifted the party's political stance sharply to the left.

With more than half of the results from local government elections in England counted, Labour had lost control of 43 seats. Labour's share of the vote was also sharply down in the Scottish and Welsh devolved government elections.

The lone bright spot for a party struggling to unite and hold the Conservative government to account may be the London mayoral election, where Labour candidate Sadiq Khan looks set to be the first Muslim to take the post.

If overall losses are confirmed, they will represent a negative verdict on Corbyn's leadership, which has so far been dogged by vicious disagreements with a moderate core of Labour lawmakers and a string of embarrassing crises - most recently over anti-Semitic views expressed by party members.

(Reporting by William James; Editing by Richard Pullin)