…By Henry George for TDPel Media.
Local council elections were held across England on Thursday, with more than 8,000 seats being contested.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak predicted a “hard night” for his party in the contests, while Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey argued that voting for his party would “send the Conservatives a message that you won’t be taken for granted”.
Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, said that the local elections were “an important step towards a Labour government that can change Britain for the better”.
Mayors are also being elected in Bedford, Leicester, Mansfield, and Middlesbrough.
The elections were held in 230 local authorities, ranging from small rural areas to some of the largest towns and cities, but not in London.
The results are the first to be affected by new voter ID rules across England, ahead of the change coming into force for British general elections from October.
Senior Tories Jeremy Hunt, Dominic Raab, and Michael Gove will be closely watching local council election results in London’s commuter belt for any swing against their party.
Hunt is the MP for South West Surrey, which is being split up, and he will fight the next election in the Godalming and Ash constituency.
Raab’s Esher and Walton constituency covers Elmbridge, where there are 18 residents’ association, 15 Conservative, 13 Lib-Dem, and two Hinchley Wood residents association councillors.
In Surrey Heath, where Gove is the MP, there are 17 Conservative, nine Lib-Dem, six Independent, two Green councillors, and one Labour.
Polling expert Lord Robert Hayward, a Conservative peer, said that “the eyes of all the political parties will be on a range of councils across the South East which will affect the mood for the preparations for the general election”.
While local council election results cannot predict a general election, they can give an indication of political trends.