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The Rundown Podcast: Making Sense Of The Local Election Results

The Rundown Podcast: Making Sense Of The Local Election Results
3 min read

On this week’s episode of The Rundown, PoliticsHome’s Eleanor Langford and Adam Payne are joined by leading elections analyst Lord Robert Hayward to unpack what you should watch for as the local election results unfold.

Voters headed to the polls on Thursday to cast their votes for over 6,800 council seats across England, Wales and Scotland

These elections have been tipped as both a referendum on Boris Johnson’s leadership and a key political test for Labour leader Keir Starmer.

Nerves are likely running high in Number 10 as the Conservatives face the polls following months of scandal over Downing Street parties and recent reports of sexual misconduct in the Commons. 

Labour, meanwhile, is hoping to capitalise on the worsening cost of living crisis and Johnson’s wavering reputation to win more seats, particularly in its former heartlands.

Lord Hayward, who is also a Conservative peer, told The Rundown that "political distancing" had been a strikingly common feature of Conservative campaigning ahead of voters going to polling stations across the country today.

Conservative candidates have reportedly omitted the PM from campaign leaflets, or used them to implore voters not to “punish” local candidates for events in Westminster.

"There's no question that it is an abnormal amount of distancing. We're used to social distancing, now there's political distancing away from Boris and Westminster to whatever the local communities are,” Lord Hayward said.

He predicted that Labour “should do well” following Thursday’s poll, and could win as many as 200 new seats. He added that Labour would likely have done a lot better when these councils were last up for election in 2018 had Jeremy Corbyn not been party leader.

The Conservatives, meanwhile, looked set to lose around 300 seats, significantly fewer than the 800 predicted by some pollsters. Many campaigners for the Tories have reported having a difficult time on the doorstep, with issues like lockdown-breaching parties in Downing Street and sexual misconduct in the Commons being raised.

Lord Hayward said there had been a “striking” change of mood among Conservative MPs following the Easter recess, when many returned to their constituencies and campaigned for local candidates. 

“What is interesting, actually, is that cost of living, although it should be a massive factor, has been down the agenda from what I'm hearing,” he said.

“I think cost of living is more of a long term issue as it really does begin to bite with people.”

He said reaction to stories like "partygate” was “indicative of a frame of mind” and showed “disillusionment with the Tory party” which was extending to politics in general.

“You've had things like partygate, as indicative of a frame of mind disillusionment with the Tory party, but which is beginning to appear to be a disillusionment with politicians in general.”

Key areas to watch, according to Lord Hayward, include Sunderland, where Labour could lose control, and councils like Kirklees and Sheffield, where Starmer’s party hope to make gains.

In London, Barnet and Wandsworth look likely to switch to Labour control, while the Liberal Democrats could have a bad night by losing the borough of Sutton. 

Labour is expected to make gains in Scotland, where every seat is up for grabs, overtaking the Conservatives as the second largest party north of the border. 

Subscribe to The Rundown to listen to the full interview with Lord Hayward.

 

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Read the most recent article written by Eleanor Langford - Downing Street Confirms Boris Johnson Will Not Get Any More Fines Over "Partygate"

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