Ahead of the first big test of public opinion since the dawn of the Partygate scandal and cost of living crisis, pollsters have surveyed voters in 16 key battleground councils in England to gauge current voting intention.
At it stands, Labour currently controls 67 councils to the Conservatives’ 46.
In order that Sir Keir Starmer’s pitch for prime minister be taken seriously ahead of the general election, it is imperative that Labour makes serious gains and shows strong progress in these elections.
The soaring cost of amenities and Whitehall’s lockdown-busting parties are expected to be the issues at the forefront of voters’ minds as they head to the polls today. But how might they impact the outcome?
The 16 councils chosen by YouGov – a mixture of marginal administrations, no overall controls, and ‘all out’ electoral contests – were split and modelled in three separate groups.
The projections, as presented by Sky News’ deputy political editor Sam Coates, show Labour are on track to make potentially significant gains in London.
At present, Labour is defending 2018’s strong set of local election results in London, winning 44 per cent of the vote and more than 1,100 councillors last time round.
But YouGov’s latest modelling suggests that Labour will improve further still in the capital, with Labour swing predictions including Wandsworth, Westminster and Barnet – areas described by the broadcaster’s Sophy Ridge as the “Conservative jewels”.
They are also expected to keep hold of and increase their presence on Croydon Council.
Below the Midlands, Labour may make some slower progress, but pollsters predict it is less likely to be winning key battleground councils.
YouGov currently expects Milton Keynes to stay in No Overall Control (NOC), but said Labour seem to be defending marginal Hastings and could win Southampton from Tory control.
Crawley and Worthing in Sussex, meanwhile, remain hotly contested.
But the picture beyond the south looks less promising for Labour, with little sign of progress in its former so-called red wall in the north of England.
Pollsters say the councils of Bolton, Wirral, and Kirklees look set to remain in no overall control due to strong independent presence and more sturdy Tory backing.
Labour’s chances of holding onto its slim majorities in Bury and Calderdale are promising, YouGov adds, but it faces a perilous battle with the Lib Dems over Hull.
Across the board, however, the Greens and independent/smaller party candidates are expected to make notable improvements.
Polling stations across the UK open at 7am on Thursday 5 May.