The May elections are just around the corner and the deadline to register to vote is fast approaching. Make sure you register this week or lose your chance to potentially help determine how likely a Scottish referendum could be, how strong the blue wall truly is, whether Starmer has succeeded in his mission to make Labour more electable or whether Boris’ handling of Brexit and Coronavirus can reverse the Tory’s local losses in 2019.
There are multiple different elections taking place on 6th May across England, Wales and Scotland. Below are some of the key battles to look out for.
Voters in England and Wales
In England and Wales, 143 council, police & crime commissioner, Mayoral and Welsh Parliament elections, are taking place on 6th May . These elections are not just about the individuals that will be elected. They could influence the fate of the Labour Party’s leadership and even have an impact on the government’s future authority.
Labour will claim that an increase in its votes will prove that Kier Starmer is “a winner” in what will be his first big test with the public. If Labour dominates the North of England and makes inroads into the blue wall that sent shock waves through the political sphere during the most recent General Election, then Starmer will be in a strong position to take the Labour Party forward into2024. Equally, if Labour dominates these locals, then the Conservatives will face some difficult questions.
In 2019, the Conservatives lost 1,334 councillor seats, which sent the Tories into a nosedive leading into Brexit. Consequently, Theresa May was replaced by Boris Johnson with a clear mission to get Brexit done. The 2021 local elections carry just as much political weight. These elections will indicate just how happy the public is with Boris, his Brexit deal and his handling of coronavirus, all of which will come under fire if the Tories further haemorrhage local influence.
Having said that, several leading polling analysts have predicted the exact opposite will take place. They argue that the Conservatives could benefit from a “vaccine bounce”. If this occurs, Starmer’s leadership will face serious criticism and we could even see a Labour Party leadership challenge before the next General election.
During the 2019 local elections, Labour lost 82 seats. This may seem small in comparison to the Tory’s losses, but this smaller number was equally as significant because Labour expected to make significant gains. If they fail to gain local seats yet again in May, it may be concluded that Starmer has failed in his mission to make Labour more electable.
Voters in Scotland
On 6th May, 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) will face reelection. 73 of these represent individual geographical constituencies while a further 56 will be selected from regional lists. This is no typical Scottish Parliamentary election. For the first time in decades, the very foundation of Scotland’s leading party, the Scottish National Party (SNP), will face a surprising challenge: a new party spearheaded by the SNP’s previously leader, Alex Salmond.
As has been the case previously, this election will be fought largely on the issue of independence. Salmond’s new party, the Alba Party, will contest only regional seats. Salmond claims that the aim is not to overtake the SNP which dominates Holyrood and which 53% of the electorate intend to vote for according to Ipsos MORI. Rather, the Alba Party aims to bolster the influence of the SNP with which it wants to build an “independence supermajority”. Salmond claims that Westminster will be more likely to take the prospect of a second Scottish independence referendum seriously if proposed by the SNP and another strong party. Readers can make their own conclusions as to the sincerity of this claim considering his public animosity towards Nicola Sturgeon.
Wherever you are across the UK, make sure you register to vote this week – if you haven’t already. It only takes 5 minutes and it will secure your right to vote, a right that is now more important than ever before.
The Whitehouse team are expert political consultants providing public relations and public affairs advice and political analysis to a wide range of clients, not only in the United Kingdom, but also across the member states of the European Union and beyond. For more information, please contact our Chair, Chris Whitehouse, at firstname.lastname@example.org.