In the aftermath of Thursday Labour councils have to be different

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Were Thursday's results just mid-term blues? Of course that's possible. But I don't think so.

Parties that reached the low Labour did in 2010 don't recover that quickly on the basis of mid-term blues.

And parties that see their support collapse as badly as the Lib Dems did aren't seeing a mild shift - it's seismic.

The rejection of the Tories in so many Cities - Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford and Norwich have no Tory councillors at all all - is not chance. People have realised by just how much the Tories threaten their well-being.

The idea that people like coalitions is shattered.

The idea that the Lib Dems could gain by being in government has gone.

Any remaining belief that people think Cameron charming or Osborne competent can be laid aside.

People want Labour (and Greens - as the London election showed) to set the agenda, unless they're frightened when they turned to UKIP, worryingly.

And Labour has no choice but respond. It can't overyurn cuts from local authorities. Most of the councils that were elected have very limited powers, let's be honest. But they could do three things.

First they could shout about NHS reform and the decline in social services. This will be in thei remits - and they have to make maximum, coordinated noise.

Second, they can deliver a Green New Deal - and if any want to know how to start look to the example my colleague Colin Hines has been working on in Birmingham.

Third, and I think most important, they can tackle the issue of social housing. They have to act individually and collectively to address the massive shortage in social housing, without action in which the lives of millions will still be blighted. We need to build housing where people need it - in towns, cities and as importantly, villages. These authorities need to demand the right to raise the money to build this housing and to do so, now.

Do this and these Labour authorities can show they can make a difference.

Don't do this and people will wonder why they voted for them.

If Labour is not different it has no point. Will it rise to the challenge?