Parties to 'focus on local elections' before partygate says expert
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Local elections will take place across parts of the UK on May 5. Thanks to numerous scandals, including partygate and Rishi Sunak’s family tax affairs, the Conservatives are certainly heading into the elections on the back foot as voter intention polls still demonstrate a clear preference for Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party.
Next month England, Wales, and Scotland will choose who they want to run services that affect everyday life, and in Northern Ireland voters will pick its Government.
In England, more than 4,000 councillors in 146 councils are up for election in major cities including Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds, and all 32 London boroughs.
Around the country, 1,000 parish councils will be electing about 10,000 councillors, and some areas will also be voting for regional Mayors.
Such a large local election will likely be seen as a mood check for the nation, particularly in the midst of the Conservative party’s turmoil and a swing in preference for the opposing Labour Party.
Some local elections are more valuable to certain parties than others – particularly those that don’t have an overall controlling majority or that are also swing seats in general elections.
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The Tories won a historic by-election in 2021 when they gained Hartlepool with more than half of all votes from Labour for the first time since its creation in 1971.
Labour will certainly be targeting – what has historically been – their ground in the upcoming election, where there are 13 Tory councillors with 11 Labour councillors competing.
Labour lost control of the authority in 2019, and it is currently run by a coalition of Conservatives and Hartlepool Independent Union councillors.
The Tories have the upper hand in Peterborough going into this election as they have 28 of 60 seats – but they lack the all-important overall majority.
A Labour gain is not impossible, given the swings recently seen here in recent elections.
Labour won the seat in a parliamentary by-election in 2019, only to lose it to the Conservatives in the general election months later, meaning Peterborough will likely been seen as a good litmus test for public opinion on the ruling party.
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A classic swing area, Croydon is always one to watch regardless of the type of election taking place.
Labour currently has a solid 11 seat majority on the council, but all 70 seats are up for grabs this May.
In an attempt to distance themselves from the various disasters of Mr Johnson, Tories standing in the area have taken to calling themselves ‘Local Conservatives’ to avoid association with the struggling Prime Minister.
Watford Borough Council is currently a Liberal Democrat stronghold and has no Conservative members.
There are 12 seats up for grabs on May 5, and Labour’s Asif Khan and Conservative candidate Binita Mehta-Parmar are looking to become the first non-Liberal Democrat Mayor in the role since it was created in 2002.
The Liberal Democrats cannot lose full control, even if they do not win any seats this time round – but a win here for Labour or Conservative will help both make proper roots in the area.
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