The Tories have been doing well in the polls. UK Polling Report has shown that the Tories have a lead among most polls except one Survation poll which gives Labour a 7 point lead. This is, of course, an outlier poll because it lies way out against other polling companies. This asks the question; are there any Tory hopes for the council elections in May? Despite all of the issues in London, where the Tory party are expected to be wiped out in, there are various potential pick-ups for the Tories in local elections that could give some hope to their party.
First considerations for the Conservative party are Brexit towns that went Tory at the last election and are overwhelmingly supportive of Brexit as a political policy. To this end, there are various local authorities in the Midlands that voted for Brexit and voted for the Conservatives. The two most likely Tory gains in the Midlands would be Dudley council and Walsall councils. Both Dudley seats have become more Conservative at the last election; with Dudley North becoming one of the most marginal Labour seats in the country with a majority of 22. Walsall North was one of the Tory gains at the last election, with the Conservatives creating a 2,607 majority in that constituency. These potential councils may be competitive for the Tories and Labour may struggle across the West Midlands. This has made local media in the Birmingham area at least suggest as important to watch. If Labour struggle’s to win in Birmingham, there would be real trouble for the party nationally as Birmingham is a Labour bastion in the Midlands. The local bin strike has made itself into the national arena, with Theresa May using it as a weapon in Prime Minister’s Questions. If the Tories could make gains in Birmingham, that would be a mixed night for the Tories
The Conservatives could also make gains in other Brexit areas if they mount a strong campaign. North-East Lincolnshire is such a local area which could represent an important gain for the Conservatives. This local council unitary authority has some strong Brexit areas and therefore becomes a potential area for the Conservatives to gain. Gains in Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea will help cement the party in marginal constituencies which voted for Brexit. Thurrock has a potential for a blow-out win for the Conservatives as the potential UKIP vote in the area may yet fall to the Tories, helping them win the marginal seat. There are 16 seats held by Thurrock independents or former UKIP councillors and this would help the Conservatives secure this council authority. Holding Peterborough would be a dent in the Labour party as it would have failed to win in a local area they won in 2017 general election.
London will perhaps be their toughest fight. However, there are some areas where they could hold onto. Barnet, Hillingdon and Tamworth will be interesting to watch on election night. Particularly Barnet, where the local demographic makeup of Barnet means the Tories might hold the seat in surprising circumstances. Why is that? The anti-Semitic crisis in the Labour party may actually hurt them in an area with a high Jewish population. Local elections have low turnouts and so high turnout among Jewish voters may halt the red-tide across different London council seats.
The overall picture looks grim for the Conservatives. Losing badly in the council elections will call Theresa May into question. Doing reasonably well for the Tories maybe enough to Theresa May to grip onto more power and for people to question Corbyn’s legitimacy once again. At least the polling is on the Tories side. For now.
Photograph: Pollstation UK
Article by Daniel Clemence