As I write this blog, results are pouring in across the country, demonstrating a great night for Labour. People across England and Wales have shown their concern for the decisions of the Coalition by voting for Labour to help them through these tough times.
As I write (at 5.30am) Labour are projected to win 39% of the vote, with the Tories down to 31% and the Lib Dems on just 16% - a great achievement for Labour if this transpires. And these results are not just focused in the traditional Labour heartlands – Labour have gained control of councils around the country; from Dudley to Derby, Newport to Norwich and the hard fought southern councils of Reading, Southampton, Plymouth and Reading. Results will continue to roll in throughout the day, including those for Scotland, and the London Mayor.
For me, the results in our own town, Barnsley, are symptomatic of yesterday’s “enough is enough” vote, as Labour have gained nine wards from either independents or the Independent Group, including Monk Bretton, Old Town and Kingstone in Barnsley Central.
But Labour’s celebration must be tempered by the reality of these “enough is enough” votes.
It is now two years since the Coalition was formed and across the country hard working families are suffering as a result of the decisions of David Cameron and Nick Clegg.
These decisions range from Britain going back into recession, the unwanted and undemocratic reforms of the NHS, a rise in living costs, a rise in unemployment and 16,000 less police officers on our streets.
In our own town, Barnsley, unemployment is far too high with 3,098 people on the benefits bill rather than in work. Women are being hit especially hard with unemployment at its highest level nationally, for over two decades.
The results tonight, have demonstrated that people throughout England have had enough of Cameron and Osborne, but Labour should not underestimate the size of the fight we need to win.
In the face of Government cuts and a damaging austerity programme, our newly elected councillors have their work cut out for them. Local council budgets have been cut by Osborne and it will be our job to find the best solution, in a very bad situation.
Labour councillors across England now need to rise to this challenge. We need to prove to the people who voted for us that we will stand up for them in these tough times, and that in 2015, a vote for Labour will be a vote for fairness, a vote for the many and not the few, and a vote for jobs and growth.
I want to congratulate all of tonight’s victorious councillors, and I look forward to working with them all, in the years to come.
Full Barnsley Central Council Result Breakdown
Central - LABOUR HOLD
*Douglas Birkinshaw, Labour 1,262 (62.4%)
Dave Gibson, independent 347 (17.1%)
Colin Porter, English Democrats 286 (14.1%)
Anne Hayes, Conservative 129 (6.4%)
Ward turnout: 24.6%
Darton East - LABOUR HOLD
Lesley Duerden, Labour 1,172 (45.8%)
Sharon Love, Barnsley Independent Group 910 (35.6%)
Howard Pearson, Conservative 234 (9.1%)
Sharon Sutton, English Democrats 185 (7.2%)
Ben Wilson, Liberal Democrats 58 (2.3%)
Ward turnout: 30.6%
Darton West - LABOUR HOLD
*Alice Cave, Labour 1,608 (61.8%)
Ian Sutton, English Democrats 505 (19.4%)
Sam England, Conservative 488 (18.8%)
Ward turnout: 31.3%
Kingstone - LABOUR GAIN
Donna Green, Labour 1,099 (58.2%)
Geoff Bowden, Barnsley Independent Group 458 (24.3%)
Nathan Walker, English Democrats 120 (6.4%)
Danny Cooke, BNP 116 (6.1%)
Clive Watkinson, Conservative 94 (5.0%)
Ward turnout: 23.5%
Monk Bretton - LABOUR GAIN
Steve Green, Labour 1,398 (55.5%)
*Grace Brown, independent 719 (28.5%)
Jane Hubbard, BNP 286 (11.4%)
Chris Pilkington, Conservative, 116 (4.6%)
Ward turnout: 30.2%
Old Town - LABOUR GAIN
Phil Davies, Labour 1,391 (52.3%)
Clive Pickering, Barnsley Independent Group 665 (25.0%)
Donald Wood, independent 214 (8.1%)
David Peace, English Democrats 206 (7.8%)
Howard Oldfield, Conservative 182 (7.0%)
Ward turnout: 30.9%
Royston - LABOUR HOLD
*Graham Kyte, Labour 1,573 (67.4%)
Jim Johnson, UKIP 322 (13.8%)
Edward Alan Gouthwaite, independent 248 (10.6%)
Gill Millner, Conservative 117 (5.0%)
Paul Robinson, English Democrats 73 (3.1%)
Ward turnout: 27.8%
St Helen's - LABOUR HOLD
Sarah Jane Tattersal, Labour 1,387 (81.2%)
Dean Walker, English Democrats 222 (13.1%)
Lesley Watkinson, Conservative 85 (5.0%)
Ward turnout: 21.6%