Which is the problem. Labour was never going to win the 400 seats the party's slightly more subtle anti-Corbyn MPs were bringing up, not least as the 2012 results were the party's best of the Ed Miliband years. At the same time, as the psephologists haven't been shutting up about, it's 30 years since an opposition lost seats at a local election. To put a temporary stop to the muttering and plotting Corbyn needed to win in the region of 100+. While the party has lost just the one council, Dudley, and to no overall control rather than an opponent, the only real crowing that can be done about these results is they aren't as bad as the doomers and same people who predicted a UKIP victory in the Oldham West by-election said they would be. It's not much of a boast, all told.
But nor does it come close to proving that Corbyn is a big of a liability as his enemies in the party and other detractors have claimed. Local elections are only ever an indication as to what's happening at national level: it's why for instance Labour has managed to hold on to councils like Nuneaton when the same voters send Tories to Westminster. This said, when you consider that ever since Corbyn became leader the party has done nothing other than fight, with the press and political figures spending the last week denouncing Labour as disgustingly racist, that the party has managed to hold on this well still strikes as success. As Tom Clark notes, this has also happened in the main because the party either consolidated or advanced in the south of England, where Corbyn's further to the left approach was meant to turn voters off, while in the north, where it was meant to appeal more, UKIP fought Labour all the way.
Much like the results overall then, what we have is a continuing stalemate. A truly disastrous night would have almost certainly encouraged the plotters to either launch their coup now or after the EU referendum vote, regardless of whether it has a chance of succeeding; likewise, Labour defying all the predictions and winning seats would have made such a move impossible. Instead, MPs on both sides are continuing to circle each other, not being prepared to go for the jugular, with the likes of Jo Cox and even professional idiot John Mann not being prepared to wield the knife in at this point. For those of us who would like it to be settled one way or the other, it could hardly be more dispiriting.
Looking beyond Labour, the Tories excepting Wales have had a great night for a governing party. You could say we're only a year in, and that a Tory majority is a still a novelty, but you still don't expect them to be gaining councillors at this stage, not least when the party has been tearing itself apart over Europe. The result in Scotland is extraordinary: everyone thought it was possible they could come second ahead of Labour, but not by the margin they've managed to. Credit has to go to Ruth Davidson, whom has clearly succeeded where past Scottish Conservative leaders failed in overcoming the hostility to the party. She's obviously been helped hugely by how said hostility has transferred to Labour following the referendum, once again proving that it's the hangers-on rather than the main contingent that get punished by voters when it comes to unlikely coalitions, and yet clearly it's something more than just that behind it. Whether it translates to Westminster at some point remains to be seen.
Considering some thought it was possible Labour and the Lib Dems could be wiped out at the constituency level entirely, it must be a relief that both did manage to retain such a presence. Worth noting especially is how the Lib Dems increased their majority in Orkney, in spite of the SNP campaign against Alistair Carmichael. Indeed, it's amusing in itself to see the SNP failing to win an overall majority this time round, hinting as it does that despite the attempt to create a personality cult around Nicola cracks are beginning to appear. With the loss of the majority making it all the more difficult to call a second referendum, even if the SNP wanted to, those pushing for independence will almost certainly start looking elsewhere.
As for the Lib Dems, there's very little comfort for them to take from the results. Sure, they've gained a few seats, but the days when they were the obvious option for a protest vote look to disappeared for good. UKIP are now on the whole that option, and at the moment have gained the most local council seats overall. Again though, they did pretty much nothing back in 2012, so for them to not advance on the level they must have hoped hardly suggests an undetected groundswell for the leave side. Far more interesting will be to see what happens when the seats fought in 2013 and 2014 are up for grabs again, and whether UKIP can hold on or increase their tally then. As for their grabbing of seven seats in the Welsh assembly thanks wholly to the regional top-up, it merely reflects what we already know: that UKIP have reached the point where their support ought to result in substantial representation at Westminster. It helps no one that both they and the Greens have only one MP thanks to the iniquities of first past the post.