In the local elections this year the attention of the media will focus (indeed is already focusing) on the Mayor of London contest. If Boris Johnson wins then Conservative morale will be high despite losses elsewhere. That is a big if as I wrote yesterday.
In 2008, when most of the seats were last contested, an analysis for the BBC found that the Conservatives had 44% of the vote nationally, the Lib Dems 25% and Labour on 24%. So that suggests the big Conservatives losses to Labour are inevitable while they will be offset by Conservative gains from the Lib Dems.
The Scottish council elections were last contested in 2007 and offer Labour less of an open goal although as in Wales all the seats are up for election. While Labour lost seats in 2007 in Scotland at least they still ended up broadly level with the SNP. This time they could fall behind. Losing control of Glasgow would be an incredible blow.
But in the English contests Labour would expect to gain overall control in Bradford, where they already have a minority administration. The biggest prize for them is expected to be Birmingham, the largest council in the UK, which is currently run by a Conservative/Lib Dem coalition. Derby and Walsall could also fall.
In Wales, Labour will hope to gain Vale of Glamorgan from the Conservatives.
So while the Conservatives and Labour will probably be able to talk about mixed results. The clear losers of the night are likely to be the Lib Dems.
Writing for the Local Government Chronicle, Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher say (£):
The contests this year are less widespread, but they could easily find themselves another 200 seats or so down and with fewer than 3,000 councillors across the country for the first time since 1986. That would represent a further blow to a party whose whole electoral strategy has been based on building up from the grassroots.
At present the Lib Dems share power in both Edinburgh City Council and Cardiff City Council. Given that in Scotland and Wales all council seats are up for election the Lib Dems look vulnerable to lose power in both places.
The Lib Dems could be vulnerable to the Conservatives in Portsmouth. In Cheltenham the Lib Dems have a big majority but with half the seats up for election that could fall as well if they are doing very badly. Given the situation with the local MP they could expect to do badly in Eastleigh but given the size of their majority and that only a third of the seats are up for election I don't think it would be mathematically possible for them to lose control.
It will also be interesting to see if the Lib Dems low ebb allows the Conservatives to achieve representation on Lib Dem-run Cambridge City Council where there are currently no Conservative councillors.