Upsets are being forecast when voters go to the polls in local elections next week.
Polls will be held in local authorities across England, alongside authority mayoral elections in Croydon and other southern areas. In Scotland, there will be elections to all 32 councils, while the Northern Ireland Assembly election will be held on the same day.
Wandsworth and Westminster
The two London councils are both controlled by the Conservatives but Labour is expected to challenge hard in both boroughs.
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Last time around, Labour won more votes but fewer seats in Wandsworth, noted Sky News, but as the party now holds all the parliamentary constituencies it “will be wanting a different outcome next month”.
Meanwhile, said the London Evening Standard, although the “traditional Tory stronghold” of Westminster has never been under the control of another party, some commentators believe the Conservatives could “come under pressure as the partygate row rages”.
Former Red Wall marginal seats
The Conservative Party is “haemorrhaging support” in the Red Wall, said The Telegraph. A new poll showed the party now enjoys the support of just 38% of Red Wall voters, down from 56% at the last general election in 2019.
This suggests the Tories will lose a “significant number of council seats”, added the paper, noting that disaffected Red Wall voters “have either turned back to the Labour Party or have decided not to vote”.
New Croydon mayor
Residents of Croydon will vote for the first time on who should be their local mayor, after a referendum last year handed voters the responsibility for a selection previously handled by councillors.
Val Shawcross, a former London Assembly member, is standing as the Labour candidate, while Croydon councillor Jason Perry is the Conservative candidate. Peter Underwood is standing for the Greens and the Lib Dems are putting forward Richard Howard. There are four other candidates.
Voting in Croydon will be influenced by the borough’s financial crisis, after the Labour-held council was forced to declare de-facto bankruptcy in late 2020, noted the London Evening Standard. The poll could see Labour face a backlash amid significant voter dissatisfaction. The Metropolitan Police confirmed that it was looking into allegations of fraud.
Views on independence have become increasingly pivotal to the way Scots vote in council elections, Sir John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, told The National. Results in Scotland could therefore be volatile.
There are eight wards where the election is already over because a lack of candidates meant everyone who stood is elected. However, wrote BBC Scotland’s political editor, Glenn Campbell, “everywhere else it is game on and because turnout tends to be lower than for parliamentary elections and because there’s a proportional voting system with candidates ranked in order of preference 1, 2, 3 – outcomes are hard to predict”.
Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland
The 2022 Northern Ireland Assembly election will also be held on 5 May, electing 90 members to Stormont.
A poll earlier this month put Sinn Fein on course to be the largest party at Stormont, at almost seven points ahead of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill is therefore “set to wrest the 15-year stranglehold of the first minister position from the DUP”, said Irish Central.
This is significant, said The Guardian, because it would mean a party that is “avowedly republican with past links to the IRA” and that retains a policy of absenteeism for its MPs in Westminster, would be “leading the government in one of the four countries of the UK”.