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Last night’s preliminary election returns for local council races in England significantly understated Tory gains. It now appears that the Tories have picked up 550 seats, out of the approximately 11,000 seats which were elected. On election day, Tory Shadow Trade Minister Crispin Blunt ostentatiously resigned his leadership post, in what he hoped would be the startof a party revolt leading to a no-confidence vote against Tory leader Ian Duncan Smith. While the Independent is claiming that Blunt’s resignation overshadows the Tory gains, the more realistic newspapers, including the Guardian, are acknowledging that “IDS” has significantly improved his position as leader, thanks to strong election results. The unstated cause of Blunt’s hostility to IDS appears to have been disagreement with Tory leadership’s support for the liberation of Iraq, as well as Tory support for Israel.

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