Elections 2019: Labour hold strong in Manchester as Lib Dems make precious gains

Labour held firm in the local elections in Manchester central – losing just one ward – but the party had some close calls along the way.

Thousands of votes were counted for the nine other boroughs in Greater Manchester on Thursday but Friday saw the counting of Manchester central wards.

The biggest point of the day was the Liberal Democrats increasing their presence by making a huge upset. They took West Didsbury off Labour, an area they had been campaigning strongly for.

They were close on getting East Didsbury, too.

Other counts which left Labour sweating were Clayton and Openshaw. The Independent party was within 13 of gaining that area. 

While in Deansgate, Lib Dem John Bridges missed out by 48 votes. There were further close calls as Lib Dems narrowly missed out to Labour in the Didsbury East and Withington Wards.

Lib Dem leader Councillor John Leech said: “It is clear that people are sick of this Tory government and their Brexit-enabling Labour partners, and voters have come out in force to issue a clear indication of the Lib Dem stance on Brexit.

“Local people have issued a strong warning to Labour that they are sick of being ignored, they are sick of vicious policies like the Homeless Tax and they are sick of being taken for granted.”

Labour now retains 93 out of 96 seats on Manchester council and the Lib Dems hold the other three. 

Labour council leader Sir Richard Leese stated that though there were close calls his party had a successful day. 

Labour keeps a tight grip on central Manchester. But there’s no doubt that the instability stemming from central government has caused some of the more minor parties to flourish. 

For instance, UKIP had the second highest number of votes for Harpurhey ward. 

“Once again, Manchester Labour has defied the national tide, winning 32 out of 33 seats,”  said Sir Richard.

“We have put Manchester first and will continue to fight for our city above everything.”

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