Today's local election results are, predictably, not good for Gordon Brown.

Labour are hoping the local elections may be a blessing in disguise. Yes, Gordon Brown has made mistakes. And, yes, the voters have given him something of a bloody nose.

But now that they've made their views known, Mr Brown has an opportunity to get back to business and demonstrate that he can govern the country effectively.

In some ways, the strategy makes sense. One of the most perplexing aspects of the row over the Prime Minister's tax reforms was his unwillingness to admit that he had made a mistake.

But now, Mr Brown has come clean and conceded that errors were made. It remains to be seen whether the British public will forgive him, but it is much easier to love a sinner who repenteth than one who doesn't.

It's certainly true that the Conservative position is much weaker than it might appear. It may be that the public is disappointed with Mr Brown and, perhaps, weary of Labour in general.

This does not necessarily mean they are enthusiastic about the Conservatives.

David Cameron has worked hard to remove the stigma attached to voting Conservative. But by convincing us that the Conservatives have changed, he inevitably left open the question of what exactly they were changing into, and there is a sense that this has yet to be answered satisfactorily.

But Labour should not assume the Tories think they have it in the bag.

There is a mood of optimism in the Conservative camp, with the likes of William Hague, the shadow Foreign Secretary, cheerfully recounting that voters on the doorstep have been asking him when his party will get rid of Gordon Brown.

But when they are in thoughtful mode, the Tories admit that they are still have more to do to communicate their message to voters.

The results in Birmingham are unlikely to affect the way the city is governed.

With a few more seats, it is conceivable that the Conservative administration, led by Mike Whitby, could attempt to go it alone as a minority administration and end the "progressive partnership" with the Liberal Democrats. However, they would have very little to gain by doing so.

One thing is clear today, however. Unlike many other parts of the country, the West Midlands remains a region where no party can take the support of voters for granted.

Any party leader who wants the backing of local voters will have to prove that they deserve it.