'The Red Wall is crumbling': Sunderland's first new councillor of 2021 predicts wins for Lib Dems

Sunderland’s first new city councillor of 2021 has predicted he will be the first of many gains for the Liberal Democrats across the county this weekend.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 7:00 pm
Ciaran Morrissey won a seat in Hendon for the Lib Dems.
Ciaran Morrissey won a seat in Hendon for the Lib Dems.

Local authorities across England went to the polls yesterday (Thursday, May 6) in the first round of local elections since 2019, many of which have been delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Early predictions had suggested Labour was in for a tough night nationwide in a range of contests to choose councillors, police and crime commissioners and mayors.

And Ciaran Morrissey’s victory for the Lib Dems in Hendon, flipping the ward away from Labour for the first time in its current form and deposing former deputy council leader Michael Mordey marked the start of a bruising encounter which eventually left Wearside’s ruling party six seats poorer.

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“I think this result shows us what we’ve known for years now, that the ‘Red Wall’ is crumbling,” said Morrissey, speaking shortly after his election was confirmed.

“Labour has taken areas like Hendon, Grangetown and the east end for granted, the Lib Dems are the only party that will work hard, turning up outside election times and listening to residents.

“I expect this will be the first of many gains, one of many in Sunderland and I expect to see similar scenes in Sheffield, Hull and Liverpool.

“It just shows that while Labour might want to blame national figures, this was also happening under Jeremy Corbyn, it’s happening again under Keir Starmer and this is a party on a downward spiral while the Liberal Democrats are up across the country.”

Antony Mullen, leader of the opposition Conservative group on Sunderland City Council, echoed the newly elected councillor’s predictions, Labour could lose overall control of the council within 12 months.

Current council leader Graeme Miller has remained bullish so far, however, pointing to a strong performance for his party in Washington and the Coalfield and insisting his personal position is ‘secure’.

Sunderland was one of less than 20 local authorities to count ballots overnight.

Results in other contests and elsewhere across the country are expected to be confirmed throughout today and over the rest of the weekend.