Local Elections – National Perspective

The Conservative party took a thumping in last week’s local elections losing over 1,000 councillors and control of 48 councils. For the first time since 2002, Labour is the largest party of local government with 2,674 councillors, as opposed to the Conservatives 2,296 and LibDem 1,628.

Although it sounds dramatic, the swing from the Conservatives to Labour suggested by the polls did not materialise; compared to the 2019 results, the Conservatives lost just 2.2%, Labour gained 6.5%, the LibDems gained just 0.6%. The polls predicted a greater increase in support for Labour but instead it was shared with the LibDems and the Greens, who had their best local election results. There were losses for independent councillors and resident councillors (a fall of 20%).

If the results were transposed into a General Election (according to the BBC), Labour would have a 35% vote share, the Conservatives 26%, and the LibDems 20%. According to Sky News, this would mean Labour would become the largest party, but 28 seats short of an overall majority, which would mean a coalition government.

The poor results were certainly not unexpected. The leadership debacle last autumn and the cost-of-living crisis have all eroded Conservative support. We can expect to see the Government doubling-up on delivering its five pledges over the coming months, running up to the General Election next year. These results suggest that the election is now more likely to happen in the autumn than in May, but that is a decision which would be made towards the end of the year.