As I posted earlier I received a briefing on the forthcoming local elections from a senior Tory official on Tuesday as part of an effort by the party to include the blogosphere within ‘the information circle’. Listed below are some of the main points that emerged from the briefing and my own observations:
- This May’s elections are the smallest set in the four year cycle in terms of the number of people entitled to vote. There are no elections in Scotland or Wales. They are mainly in English shire district councils (where 1,209 seats are being contested), English metropolitan district councils (815 seats) and London (1,861 seats). Click the graphic on the right for an enlarged pictorial view of the contested councils.
- There are also elections for four directly-elected mayors; in Hackney, Newham, Watford and Lewisham. James Cleverly, a ConservativeHome regular, is standing in Lewisham and click here for details of his launch party.
- Voting hours are being extended by two hours to 7am to 10pm – as in General Elections. This may increase turnout and will delay the announcement of results.
- The Conservatives led in the ‘national equivalent vote share’ in each of the last times in which May 4th’s seats were contested so the party is starting from a high base.
- It hopes for the most advance in London where it currently holds 8 of 26 boroughs. It hopes to remove Labour from the chairmanship of the Association of London Government.
- In Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle – where the Tories hold no seats – expectations are low. In many seats the Tories are actually in fourth place – behind independents and old Liberal candidates (as well as Labour and the LibDems). The party hopes to reclaim second and third places in certain seats so that it has a more realistic chance of winning them in future elections.
- The LibDems are hoping to steal Solihull (where they won the General Election seat last year) and Richmond-upon-Thames (where we made spectacular gains four years ago) from the Tories.
- Top Tory targets are Bury, Coventry and Croydon. Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher – the respected local government watchers – say that 200 net councillor gains in London would indicate that the Conservatives were polling over 40% (the "minimum required for them to have even a chance of winning an overall Commons majority").
ConservativeHome hopes to cover the local elections closely. It would be great if we could have regular reports from the canvassing frontline. If you are out knocking on doors – of an evening or over a weekend – and would like to email thoughts to me please do. It would be great to get doorstep observations…
…about David Cameron and Tony Blair…
…What national issues are coming up…
…and insights into the particularities of local campaigns…
If you want to sign up to file one report as part of a wider roster of nightly postings – in a similar way to people posted on the leadership hustings – please email firstname.lastname@example.org.