Tories set to lose more than 400 council seats at May 2 local elections, says polling expert

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak who faces heavy losses in the May local elections (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak who faces heavy losses in the May local elections (PA Wire)

Rishi Sunak’s Tories are set to lose more than 400 council seats at the May 2 local elections, says a leading polling expert.

Tory peer Lord Hayward expects Labour to gain between 200 and 250.

The Liberal Democrats could be on course to win around 100 seats, with the Greens getting 30, as they and other parties hit the number gained by Sir Ed Davey’s party.

Lord Hayward said: “Overall, I expect the Tories to have a bad night but it will not be a blowout for Labour.”

His forecasts were made to Channel 4 News ahead of the programme’s special local election debate in Gloucester, fronted by presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy.

The Conservatives and Labour are the only parties fielding candidates in most of the council seats being contested in the local elections on May 2, when the contest for Mayor of London will also take place.

More than 2,650 seats are up for grabs on polling day across 107 local authorities in England.

The Conservatives have candidates in 95 per cent of these, the highest proportion for any party, with Labour close behind on 91%, according to data compiled by the PA news agency.

The Liberal Democrats are fighting 68 per cent of the seats and the Greens are on the ballot in 62 per cent.

Reform candidates are standing in 12 per cent, suggesting they could have only a small impact on the outcome of these particular elections.

The Tories and Labour are both defending more than 900 existing council seats, with the Lib Dems defending more than 400 and the Greens just over 100.

Changes in the size of some local authorities mean there are also some brand new seats in play.

Councils where Reform are fielding a proportionately high number of candidates include Bolton, where the party is contesting all 21 seats up for grabs, Hartlepool (12 of 12), Plymouth (17 of 19) and Sunderland (25 of 25).

A total of 316 Reform candidates are standing across the 107 local authorities.

The Workers Party of Britain, whose leader George Galloway recently won the Rochdale parliamentary by-election, has 31 candidates across the 107 authorities, including 13 in Rochdale where 20 seats are up for grabs.

The party’s next highest showing is in Manchester, where it is standing in six out of 33 seats.

While the Tories and Labour have candidates in all 11 of the mayoral elections on May 2, and the Lib Dems and Greens are standing in 10 of them, Reform are fielding candidates in just five: East Midlands, Greater Manchester, London, the North East and the West Midlands.

The six mayoral contests where Reform is not on the ballot are in the Liverpool City Region, Salford, South Yorkshire, Tees Valley, West Yorkshire and York & North Yorkshire.

Salford is also the only mayoral poll without a Lib Dem candidate while Tees Valley is the only one not being contested by the Greens.

Just three parties are fielding candidates in Tees Valley – the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats – which is the smallest number in any of this year’s mayoral races, while London has the most candidates at 13.

There is much higher participation by parties in the elections for the London Assembly, with the Tories, Labour, Lib Dems, Greens and Reform all fielding candidates in each of the 14 constituencies.