Labour’s strategy ‘won’t last’ into a general election, says Cabinet minister

The Labour Party’s “ming vase” strategy will not last into the general election, a Cabinet minister has claimed after a day of heavy local election losses for the Conservatives and broad gains for the opposition.

The Tories lost more than 300 seats and Labour have gained 200, with 98 out of 107 councils having declared their results.

Meanwhile, the Tories were crushed by Labour in the Blackpool South by-election. The Conservatives lost the seat and only narrowly held off Reform UK to finish in second place.

But in a major silver lining for Rishi Sunak, Ben Houchen was re-elected as the Conservative Mayor of the Tees Valley, securing his third term in office as he defeated his Labour and Liberal Democrat challengers in all five of the local authority areas which make up the Tees Valley.

Admitting it had been a “difficult” day for his party, Mel Stride, the Work and Pensions Secretary, insisted the general election, widely expected to be held in the second half of the year, would be a different story.

Mr Stride told Sky’s Politics Hub: “As we approach that general election quite rightly it’s going to be framed as the Conservatives versus Keir Starmer, Rishi Sunak, Keir Starmer, who’s going to get the keys to No 10 and govern the country?

“And I think at the point people are going to expect more of Labour in terms of telling us what they actually stand for. We’ve had this ming vase strategy, where Keir Starmer has carried this ming vase, trying to protect his poll lead across this slippery floor for fear of dropping it.

“That won’t last, it won’t wash into a general election. So I think we’re going to see a very different dynamic going forward. But I do accept that of course these results have been difficult and it pains me that so many great Conservative communities who’ve stood up for their communities are no longer representing those communities.”

The results of two key mayoral races will be announced on Saturday, with Labour mayor Sadiq Khan and Tory incumbent Andy Street both seeking third terms in London and the West Midlands respectively.

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