Local Elections 2014 - voting trends
All sorts of local issues, the popularity of individual candidates and the quality of local organisation to get supporters out affects local elections and so changes in voting patterns in individual seats can be large and will affect some of the predictions below.
Somewhere a candidate of one of the parties will no doubt forget to get their nomination papers in on time. Nevertheless local elections do reflect the general drift in public opinion.
In May 2012, Labour was around 10 points ahead of the Conservatives in the opinion polls whereas in May 2011 they were only 3 or 4 points ahead. Where elections were held in the same wards in the two years, Labour did significantly better in 2012. Labour’s lead recently has been nearer the 2011 level, even dipping below that in the last week and so the 2011 results are a better guide to what will happen in Conservative/Labour marginal wards this time.
Thrasher and Rallings, the leading academic experts in local elections, are predicting 500 Labour gains this year but that looks rather optimistic. The Lib Dems, at 10-15 point lower than in the general election, are bound to lose seats. Labour will no doubt lose some seats somewhere despite national swings.
Will the European Election affect local voting choices?
A major question is whether people’s European voting intention will affect their local voting intention. UKIP will hope to build on their wins in the county council elections last year to gain seats in the same wards at district level, although there are not elections this year in many of the areas of Kent, Norfolk and Lincolnshire where they did so well in 2013.
UKIP will hope to show they can win in Labour areas in the north as well as take seats from the Conservatives in the south but this remains to be seen.
They will win seats but people distinguish between elections and, although having the European elections the same day will help them, they are not going to get the same percentage of the vote in local elections as the opinion polls are showing for the European.
Many UKIP voters would not normally have turned out to vote in local elections and so their effect on the Conservative vote in local elections, as opposed to for European, may not be so dramatic.
The Greens are also doing well in the polls for the European elections and this may help them in key council wards where they are strong.
How will London vote?
We do have a separate opinion poll for voting intention in the London elections. Survation found Labour leading the Conservatives by 42% to 26%, an 8% swing since the actual result in 2010 and similar to their February poll.
Although Labour did well in London in the general election and there may be a long term trend towards them in the capital this still seems much more favourable than the 4% swing that opinion polls suggest for the country as a whole and so the predictions below are more cautious. If it turns out to be correct the Conservative will have problems in London in the general election, assuming that Labour holds all of its existing London councils.
Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea and Wandsworth all have large Conservative majorities and, although Labour may win a few seats in each, the comments below on Hammersmith and Fulham trending to the Conservatives apply in these nearby parts of West London as well. Suburban Bromley is also safe for the Conservatives and may become safer if, as is likely, they win a couple more seats from the Lib Dems.
On our local elections homepage you can find a profile of each of the councils outside London where changes in control might occur. The rest are either safe Conservative districts or Labour held metropolitan Boroughs where Labour is likely to increase its majority. However UKIP may win seats in Castle Point and Rochford as they did in last year’s county council elections and, in Castle Point, the Canvey Island Independents always win in that part of the district and so it is possible that the Conservatives may lose overall control.
These councils elect a third of their councillors each year and we have the results for these wards over three years, all available on Andrew Teale’s Local Elections Archive, so it is possible to build up a picture of how party support has been changing since 2010. These are predictions, with the caveat already explained, that local factors have an effect as well, and we will have an analysis on the website of what actually happened, after the elections.
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