Local elections and what to watch out for

On May 3rd, 4350 local council seats are up for election in 151 council areas, including all 32 London Boroughs. These elections will determine who runs local council services and will also be seen as a significant test of support for the main political parties and their Leaders.  That said, history shows that local election results should be treated as a political snapshot, rather than an accurate predictor of a future General Election. In ‘mid-term’ elections, the party in power nationally, tends to lose seats locally, and it will be no surprise to see Conservative losses and Labour gains. At Connect, we will be watching closely to see the scale of any wins and losses, any regional trends, and which councils change control.

With national opinion polls suggesting both Labour and the Conservatives are on around 36% support, we would expect to see Labour making net gains of around 200 seats from all other parties. The Lib Dems will also be looking to make net gains, given the last time these seats were contested, they were four years into being in coalition with the Conservatives. The Conservatives will hope to keep their net losses below 100. UKIP will be pleased to hold on to any seats, given their support has collapsed in recent elections.

All eyes in London will be on the Conservative flagship Boroughs of Wandsworth, Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea, where the Conservative administration has been heavily criticised following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.   The Prime Minister has been personally campaigning in Wandsworth, underlining the significance of this Borough to her party, and the fierce battle taking place on the doorsteps. Westminster appears safer for the Conservatives, but even here, Tory HQ is watching nervously. Labour are expected to snatch control of more marginal Barnet, but the row over antisemitism could have an impact on enthusiasm for Jeremy Corbyn’s party.

Elsewhere across the UK, Labour is targetting Trafford, the Conservatives only council in the Greater Manchester area, and gains in the South West, particularly Plymouth, which the Conservatives currently control on a wafer thin majority. In District Council areas, there is some allignment with Parliamentary marginals, which adds another layer of interest in seats such as Amber Valley, Basildon and Worcester, all of which could change control.

The BBC will carry much the best coverage of the detailed election results on the 3rd and 4th May, and Connect will not seek to replicate this. Our role is to add value to our clients by providing analysis of the results overall and the implications for politics and policy, as well as keeping our clients informed about specific local changes that are of particular relevence to them. If you would like to request a bespoke briefing on the election results from us, please get in touch.

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