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UK Local Council Elections 2012: 10 Predictions

May 3, 2012

How might the UK’s main political parties fare in the local and mayoral elections on Thursday?

Here are some forecasts for what might happen, based on the latest news stories, analysis and opinion polls – plus a bit of informed guesswork.

Nick Clegg (© Andrew Yates, PA Wire)

Andrew Yates, PA Wire

1. The Liberal Democrats will get their worst share of the vote since the party was founded

In last year’s local elections, the Lib Dems ended up with just 16% of the vote: the lowest since the party was formed in 1988. If opinion polls are correct, this year they will do even worse. The party will lose ground to the Conservatives in the south of England and to Labour everywhere else. Compare this to the giddy heights of 30%, which the Lib Dems managed in the 2003 local elections, held two months after the beginning of the Iraq war.

2. Boris Johnson will be re-elected London mayor

This will be the Conservative party’s best result of the elections, and the one they will use to imply Labour in general and Ed Miliband in particular have done very poorly. If they can’t win in London, the Tories’ argument will run, there’s no way Labour has enough momentum or credibility to go on to win a general election in three years’ time. But Johnson’s victory may well be very narrower than the 53% he managed over Ken Livingstone’s 47% last time round in 2008. Polls also suggest that Labour will quite well in the London Assembly elections, where they should end up the largest party, pushing the Tories into second place.

3. Labour will win the mayoral elections in Liverpool and Salford

These two cities are voting for elected mayors for the first time, and in both places Labour will emerge the victor. Former Eccles MP Ian Stewart is the Labour candidate in Salford, while existing council leader Joe Anderson is the Labour candidate in Liverpool. The turnout in both polls, however, could be below the national average. Neither cities held referendums to see whether residents wanted to have an elected mayor.

4. Doncaster will vote to keep its elected mayor

Residents of this town are being offered a choice of whether to keep a directly-elected mayor or go back to the old system of the council being run by elected councillors. It follows a consultation in Doncaster that saw 90% of the 1,225 replies received saying they were in favour of a referendum. The current directly-elected mayor is Peter Davies of the English Democrats. Doncaster’s experience of having an elected mayor has not been without incident. Now the Labour-run council is leading the campaign to abolish the position. The result could be close, but it’s probable this will be one place that decides to retain the position of an elected mayor – for now.

David Cameron (© Dominic Lipinski, PA Wire)

Dominic Lipinski, PA Wire

5. The Tories will hold on to Plymouth and Southampton

Turning to some specific predictions for the local elections, there are two councils where the ruling Conservatives have a very small majority: just three seats in the case of Southampton, and five in Plymouth. They are the sorts of places where Labour needs to do well to show it has support right across the country and not just in the north. But despite Labour needing to make just four gains in Plymouth and six in Southampton to end up in charge of either council, the party will probably fall just short. Results from across southern England are more than likely to show that Ed Miliband still has an awful lot of work to do.

6. Labour will hold on to control of Glasgow council

The Conservative party has been making great play of how Labour is about to lose one of its traditional political heartlands. But despite predictions of a dramatic victory by the Scottish nationalists, Labour will just about cling on to power in Glasgow. The SNP needs to gain another 20 seats on top of its current total of 20 in order to win control of the 79-seat council. The party will come close, but ultimately they’ll fall short – something that will be of enormous relief to Labour leader Ed Miliband.

7. The Liberal Democrats will lose control of Cambridge, Cardiff and Portsmouth

Adding to the Lib Dems’ woes will be the loss of some of the few remaining councils in the UK of which they have control. The large student vote in Cambridge could see the party lose almost all of its eight seats up for grabs, with Labour being the main beneficiary. In Cardiff, where the Lib Dems currently share power with Plaid Cymru, both the Tories and Labour are set to snatch the lion’s share of the Lib Dems’ current 34 seats. In Portsmouth it will the Conservatives who could win control, winning up to five of the six Lib Dem seats in contention.

Ed Miliband (© Chris Ison, PA Wire)

Chris Ison, PA Wire

8. Labour will win control of Carlisle, Newport and Great Yarmouth

All of these are key Labour targets, and there’s no reason to doubt that the party will do well. Polls show very high levels of Labour support throughout Wales, while Carlisle is a seat Labour lost to the Tories at the last general election by a tiny margin. It ought to be very easy for the party to win control of the council this year. As for Great Yarmouth, a gain of four extra seats will see Labour take charge.

9. The SNP will take control of Dundee, Perth and Kinross, and Falkirk

Unlike in Glasgow, where the SNP will probably just fall short, these three targets offer a more likely prospect of victory. Dundee is the easiest, where the SNP need to gain just one seat to take control. An additional three seats are required in Perth and Kinross for an SNP victory, while the party needs to pick up an extra four seats to end the unusual Tory-Labour coalition in Falkirk.

10. Turnout will be higher than when these seats were last contested in 2008

One final prediction. Four years ago, nationwide turnout was 38%: a staggeringly low figure. It’ll be higher this time round, thanks in part to the interest generated by having a mix of local and mayoral elections taking place, but also due to the somewhat turbulent times through which we’re currently living: a recession, the phone-hacking revelations, the ongoing fallout from last month’s Budget, and the fortunes and failings of the coalition government.

Culled from MSN News Thursday 3rd May 2012

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