POLLING expert John Curtice has insisted Labour’s results in council elections across England are not “really dramatic” despite the party gaining dozens of seats.

With results still coming in, Labour have regained control of key council targets in the likes of Hartlepool and Redditch – areas where they are aiming to win at the General Election later this year.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives are having a torrid time having so far lost around half the seats they were defending.

But there is evidence Labour have struggled in areas with a significant Muslim population – a sign Labour’s stance on Gaza has hurt the party.

Labour lost control of the council in Oldham were two Labour councillors quit the party earlier this year over Gaza.

READ MORE: Scottish Labour fury as Keir Starmer waters down workers' rights plan

Independent candidates, several of whom explicitly campaigned in support of Palestine, gained five seats on Thursday night, pushing the council into no overall control.

Giving his verdict on the results, Professor John Curtice said Labour had had a decent night but were not reaching their heights they did under Tony Blair before his landslide 1997 victory.

Curtice said: “There is plenty for Labour to be happy about, but in effect it looks as though we’re talking about Labour doing more or less as well as they did last year — which is not bad, and roughly what the opinion polls were saying.

“But it’s still the case that Labour are not heading for the kind of really dramatic local election performances that they managed to achieve under Tony Blair before the 1997 general election.”

Labour’s national campaign co-ordinator Pat McFadden acknowledged the crisis in Gaza had been “a factor in some places”, saying that with “so many innocent people being killed I’m not surprised people have strong feelings about that”.

But he added that “very local factors” had also played a role in Oldham, while council leader Arooj Shah blamed “13 years of austerity” and a “divisive toxic politics” in the town that pre-dated the latest outbreak of conflict in Gaza.

Amid the council elections, Chris Webb managed to win the Blackpool South by-election for Labour, securing a 26.3% swing from the Tories in the marginal seat.

Conservative David Jones only beat Reform UK's Mark Butcher into second place by 117 votes.

The by-election had been triggered by the resignation of former Tory MP Scott Benton.