Tories heading for 'record' local election low

By Jon Craig, Chief Political Correspondent
The Tories are heading for a record all-time low in local elections in London on 3 May, according to an authoritative new analysis.
The number of Conservative councillors in the capital could fall from 604 currently to below 519, the party's lowest ever total back in 1994, experts predict.
The local elections in England, in just over six weeks, will be the biggest test for the parties and their leaders - Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Sir Vince Cable - since last year's general election.In total, 4,371 council seats are being contested, with Labour set to make big gains in the 32 London boroughs but the Conservatives poised to do better outside the capital.
Tories heading for 'record' local election low

A month ago, a disaster for the Tories in London on 3 May would almost certainly have put the Prime Minister's job in peril and prompted moves to force her to quit.But her supporters are now confident that she is more secure after a fightback against her critics on Brexit and what they believe has been her sure-footed handling of the Russian poisoning crisis.Besides the London boroughs, there are elections on 3 May in so-called unitary authorities such as Portsmouth, Southampton, Derby, Hull and Blackburn and districts in shire counties such as Surrey and Hampshire.Districts including Harrogate, South Lakeland, Huntingdonshire, Eastleigh and Hastings are electing all their councillors, as are the big cities of Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham.
Tories heading for 'record' local election low

Mayors are being elected in the London boroughs of Hackney, Lewisham, Newham and Tower Hamlets and in Watford and the Sheffield City region.Nominations close at 4pm on Friday 6 April and most of the 18% share of the vote won by the now self-destructed UKIP in the same elections in 2014 is likely to be up for grabs.Analysis by elections expert Lord (Robert) Hayward, pollster Andrew Hawkins of ComRes and Professor Tony Travers of the London School of Economics reveals that in recent elections Labour has performed up to 15% better in London than in Great Britain as a whole and the Conservatives up to 10% worse in the capital."I would be surprised if the Tories did not have an all-time low of councillors in London," said Lord Hayward, who correctly predicted the 2015 general election result and the outcome of the EU referendum."Labour were very successful in the general election. I would expect that to continue in 2018 in London."
Tories heading for 'record' local election low

Theresa May's supporters believe she has handled the Salisbury poison attack well
On the elections outside London, he added: "I expect the Tories to lose seats overall and the Liberal Democrats to gain seats against the Tories in some parts of the country."But I don't expect them to lose to such an extent that it would endanger Theresa May's premiership."In London, Labour looks on course to snatch Barnet from the Conservatives and is battling to seize two jewels of the Tories' local government crown, Wandsworth and Westminster.
The LibDems hope to win Kingston and Richmond from the Conservatives.
Tories heading for 'record' local election low

Labour may fail to take Wandsworth if the Greens field more candidates
One factor that could rob Labour of taking Wandsworth could be an increased number of Green Party candidates. In 2014 the Greens only contested 25 of the 60 seats in the borough.And Labour's opponents will be looking for evidence that a purge of veteran councillors in Haringey by left-wing Momentum activists has damaged the party at the polls.The big reason for Labour's growing vote share in recent years in London appears to be demographic change, the experts believe. In the Clayhall ward in Redbridge, for example, in 2001 50% of the population was described as "white English", but by 2011 it was down to 20%.But the local elections will be a different story outside London on 3 May. In Bolton, Labour has lost two council by-elections already this year.Labour will hope to benefit from a Brexit backlash against the Conservatives in London, but elsewhere pro-Brexit voters want the Government to get on with leaving the EU.
Tories heading for 'record' local election low

Most of the votes UKIP won in 2014 could be up for grabs
The Conservatives could lose Trafford, however, to no overall control and Labour could gain Dudley, Calderdale and Kirklees from no overall control.The LibDems will have hopes of a breakthrough in South Cambridgeshire, close to the heavily pro-Remain university city, and in affluent Three Rivers in Hertfordshire.Finally, if you live in Bromley, Gosport, Swindon, Watford or Woking you will need ID when you go to the polling station to vote.A new voter ID requirement - criticised by some Labour MPs - is on trial in these boroughs.:: WHEN WILL THE RESULTS BE DECLARED?Of the 150 councils where there are elections, 100 are counting on the night, and the rest during the day on Friday 4 May.The first results will come in from the smaller districts, starting as early as 11.30pm and continuing to come in between midnight and 1am, when results from the unitary authorities will also start coming in.
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The big metropolitan cities will declare between 2am and 4am and the London boroughs from 2am, but more likely between 4am and 5am.Sky News will bring you all the results throughout the night and on the Friday.
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