The Conservatives had excellent results in the 2006 Council elections in the London boroughs. Yet looking back at the opinion polls just before May 4 2006 our lead was generally lower that it is at present. (For instance YouGov on 28/4/06 had it at 3%.) I would think it would be reasonable to hope we will make further gains this year despite the uncertainty of a higher turnout with the General Election on the same day. The higher turnout might help Labour a little – but could also hit the Lib Dems.
But where could we take more councils? Hounslow, Merton and Redbridge are minority Conservative administrations. In each case just an extra few seats would provide overall control. Gaining Sutton from the Lib Dems would be a tremendous achievement and one that appears well within our grasp. Kingston has the highest Council Tax in London and is run by the Lib Dems with 25 councillors against 21 Conservatives and two Labour. Surely this should also be a Conservative gain? In Richmond the Conservatives lost to the Lib Dems last time after our high Council Tax policies. Will we have been forgiven? The Lib Dems have been piling on some of the highest Council Tax rises in London since they took over.
The Labour Councils left standing from last time generally have pretty big majorities. I expect we will make big gains in Tower Hamlets but will they be enough to win? It would mean increasing our number of councillors there from eight to 26. Gaining 18 seats would be a challenge but is what we achieved in Hammersmith and Fulham last time. In Ealing we gained 20 seats. In both Waltham Forest (Lab/Lib Dem control) and Brent (Lib Dem/Conservative) we start with the stronger base of 15 councillors so those are ones to watch. In Camden we a have 12 councillors and are minority coalition partners with the Lib dems but we are fighting a serious battle for overall control.
Elsewhere in the boroughs where we have little or no representation (Newham, Haringey, Islington, Barking and Dagenham) we might not have any chance of sweeping into power but it will be interesting to see if we can make some progress.
The confusingly named Vote 2007 website offers the chance to make predictions for each borough's election results. A Labour councillor in Westminster, Cllr David Boothroyd has some interesting predictions here – including the Conservatives gaining further seats in Hammersmith and Fulham. Onwards.