Published:

8 comments

On Thursday May 7th, for most of us, there will be yet more elections. Police and Crime Commissioner elections are being held in England and Wales. Most of England will also be having Mayoral or council elections of one sort or another. I expect that when the results are extrapolated to offer a national political verdict, it will focus on an early test for the new Labour leader, who will have been elected just over a month earlier, on April 4th.

Most of the seats were last contested in 2016. That was a year when the Conservatives made slight losses. The projected national vote share was Labour 31 per cent, Conservatives 30 per cent, Lib Dems 15 per cent, UKIP 12 per cent.

But two of the highest profile contests last took place in 2017. The local elections that year went very well for the Conservatives, even though the General Election that followed was rather disappointing. The projected national vote share for the 2017 local elections was 38 per cent for the Conservatives, 27 per cent for Labour, 18 per cent for the Liberal Democrats, and five per cent for UKIP, with others on around 12 per cent. Ben Houchen was elected the Mayor of the Tees Valley Combined Authority. Andy Street was elected Mayor of the West Midlands. Both these Conservative victories were very narrow. But it was pretty spectacular that they happened at all. That does set the bar high, as losing either, or both, would be presented as a “setback for Boris Johnson”. So the expectations are challenging for those contests. Another election that last took place in 2017 was for Mayor of Greater Manchester. Andy Burnham, the Labour candidate, won last time with a very big majority. Though the Conservatives made gains in Bury and Bolton in the General Election last December, it would be a huge upset for Burnham to lose.

The most high profile battle will be for Mayor of London – as I have written before Sadiq Khan is expected to win easily despite a lacklustre first term and the election having last taken place in 2016.

The full list of Mayoral elections this year is as follows:

  • Mayor of London (and London Assembly)
  • Greater Manchester (combined authority)
  • Liverpool City Region (combined authority)
  • Tees Valley (combined authority)
  • West Midlands (combined authority)
  • Bristol (single authority)
  • Liverpool (single authority)
  • Salford (single authority)

Police and Crime Commissioner elections last took place in 2016. Labour only narrowly won in Cheshire and Derbyshire. Lincolnshire was a fairly close Labour victory. So those will be potential Conservative gains. Contests will take place in the following areas:

  •  Avon and Somerset
  • Cheshire
  • Derbyshire
  • Devon & Cornwall
  • Dorset
  • Gloucestershire
  • Gwent
  • Hampshire
  • Humberside
  • Kent
  • Lancashire
  • Leicestershire
  • Lincolnshire
  • Merseyside
  • Northamptonshire
  • North Yorkshire
  • South Wales
  • Staffordshire
  • Surrey
  • Sussex
  • Thames Valley
  • West Mercia
  • West Midlands
  • West Yorkshire
  • Wiltshire

It is in the elections for metropolitan boroughs where Labour have most to lose if the last General Election is an indication. Rotherham and Salford have all their seats up for election. In the following, a third of the seats are due to be contested:

  • Barnsley
  • Bolton
  • Bradford
  • Bury
  • Calderdale
  • Coventry
  • Dudley
  • Gateshead
  • Kirklees
  • Knowsley
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle upon Tyne
  • North Tyneside
  • Oldham
  • Rochdale
  • Sandwell
  • Sefton
  • Sheffield
  • Solihull
  • South Tyneside
  • St Helens
  • Stockport
  • Sunderland
  • Tameside
  • Trafford
  • Wakefield
  • Walsall
  • Wigan
  • Wirral
  • Wolverhampton

Among the unitary authorities, the following have all their seats up for election:

  • Bristol
  • Buckinghamshire ( a new council)
  • Halton
  • Hartlepool
  • North Northamptonshire (a new council)
  • West Northamptonshire ( a new council)
  • Warrington

These unitary authorities have a third of their seats up for election:

  • Blackburn with Darwen
  • Derby
  • Hull
  • Milton Keynes
  • North East Lincolnshire
  • Peterborough
  • Plymouth
  • Portsmouth
  • Reading
  • Slough
  • Southampton
  • Southend-on-Sea
  • Swindon
  • Thurrock
  • Wokingham

Attention tends to focus on where control of a council changes hands; when only a third of seats are being contested the potential for this is more limited. Labour might do very badly in Sandwell, Wakefield and Wolverhampton – but it is mathematically impossible for them to lose control of the Council this year. But the changes could still be of long term political significance.

Among the district councils, Gloucester and Stroud have all their seats up for election.

The following have half their seats up for election this year:

  • Adur
  • Cheltenham
  • Fareham
  • Gosport
  • Hastings
  • Nuneaton and Bedworth
  • Oxford

These district councils have a third of their seats up for election:

  • Amber Valley
  • Basildon
  • Basingstoke and Deane
  • Brentwood
  • Broxbourne
  • Burnley
  • Cambridge
  • Cannock Chase
  • Carlisle
  • Castle Point
  • Cherwell
  • Chorley
  • Colchester
  • Craven
  • Crawley
  • Daventry (postponed in 2019 pending reorganisation in Northamptonshire)
  • Eastleigh
  • Elmbridge
  • Epping Forest
  • Exeter
  • Harlow
  • Hart
  • Havant
  • Hyndburn
  • Ipswich
  • Lincoln
  • Maidstone
  • Mole Valley
  • North Hertfordshire
  • Norwich
  • Pendle
  • Preston
  • Redditch
  • Reigate and Banstead
  • Rochford
  • Rossendale
  • Rugby
  • Runnymede
  • Rushmoor
  • South Lakeland
  • St Albans
  • Stevenage
  • Tamworth
  • Tandridge
  • Three Rivers
  • Tunbridge Wells
  • Watford
  • Welwyn Hatfield
  • West Lancashire
  • West Oxfordshire
  • Winchester
  • Woking
  • Worcester
  • Worthing

In the local election last year, it was rather a relief for the Conservatives that so many councils elect by thirds. The question will be if the big losses to independents and the Lib Dems will be repeated.

A lot can change over three months. But it seems hard to believe that a new leader will dramatically enhance Labour’s standing. They will be defending council seats in several of the areas where they performed very poorly at the General Election. So at this stage, it looks likely that Labour will face yet further setbacks.

8 comments for: Local elections 2020: Holding the mayoralties in the Tees Valley and the West Midlands will be key Conservative challenges

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.