The number of councillors a political party has is important for General Elections. It tends to be councillors who have a strong motive and opportunity for maintaining campaigning activism. According to the most recent estimate I could find from the House of Commons Library there are 8,427 Conservative councillors in Britain compared with 7,098 for Labour and 2,282 for the Liberal Democrats.
For the Conservatives to have remained ahead of Labour after five years in Government is an achievement. However the gap has certainly closed. The equivalent Commons Library tally before the 2010 General Election had 10,088 Conservative councillors, with 4,733 for Labour and 4,446 for the Lib Dems.
An extra couple of thousand councillors should help Labour in the “ground war” compared to 2010. (By contrast the Conservatives are in a relatively stronger position in the Conservative/Lib Dem battlegrounds than five years ago.)
Where there is a Labour council this may be more problematic for the Labour candidates in the General Election. Labour councils are more likely to be increasing Council Tax. Sometimes they will be inconsiderate enough to be doing this in areas where there are marginal seats. Labour-run Harrow Council, for example, is pushing up Council Tax by two per cent while closing libraries and children’s centres and cutting help for voluntary groups.
Conservatives in Reading oppose Labour’s 1.99 per cent Council Tax rise.
In Nottinghamshire the Labour-run county council is also putting up Council Tax by a referendum-dodging two per cent. Labour rejected alternative budget proposals from the Conservatives that would have allowed a Council Tax freeze. So the voters in Broxstowe, Gedling and Sherwood are facing higher bills due to Labour.
Then there is Labour-run Derbyshire putting up the Council Tax by 1.98 per cent. A blow for hard working people in Amber Valley, High Peak and Erewash.
Or we have Labour-run Birmingham also pushing up the Council Tax. How will that go down in Northfield and Edgbaston?
The General Election campaign has featured a warning from the Conservatives that Labour would increase tax. Labour has countered that this would only be for the rich. Yet many voters in marginal seats can see for themselves that Labour is increasing Council Tax – which hits the poor the hardest.