Ed Miliband has hailed Labour’s election performance, denying he was disappointed with the results.
Labour failed to win a majority in Wales, lost to the Scottish National Party north of the border and Mr Miliband also backed the Alternative Vote (AV), which was heavily defeated at the polls.
Meanwhile, figures for the national equivalent shares of the vote in the English local elections showed the Conservatives beating Labour into second place. The Tories claimed 38% of the vote compared to Labour’s 37%, reversing their positions in most of the national polls since the general election.
Despite this, Mr Miliband said: “We had some notable wins in place like Gravesham, we made big gains in Thanet and Thurrock. I know we’ve got to be a truly national party fighting in the south as well as the north.
“We made progress, it’s a staging post.”
He claimed the government was still enjoying a “honeymoon period” - even though the Liberal Democrats were routed on Thursday.
But Mr Miliband said Labour still needed to attract voters with alternative policies.
“People do want us to set out the alternative to this government. We’ve got to convince more people about the alternative there is,” Mr Miliband told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
He pledged to press ahead with highlighting “the squeeze on people’s income”, adding: “We are seeing the destruction of many of the things people value, from local policing to the NHS.
“There are big challenges facing this country, we’ve started to set that out and we will do it more over the coming months.”
Responding to Mr Miliband’s comment about the government enjoying a “honeymoon”, Conservative co-chairman Baroness Warsi said: “This is an extraordinary excuse for Labour’s poor performance in the elections.
“Ed Miliband failed to deliver his party on AV, failed to fight back in Scotland, failed to deliver a majority in Wales and failed in England. If anyone should be enjoying a honeymoon it’s Ed Miliband, but it’s clear his seven-month leadership has already stalled.”