England & Wales Democracy, devolution and governance

LE2018: The ones to watch


Inevitably, the main story of the local elections on the national stage will be London, where all 32 boroughs are holding all-out elections. Elsewhere in the country, all the metropolitan boroughs (bar two) are up for election. A number of district councils are also holding elections.

While only a third of the seats up for election are held by the Conservatives, the party could still be on shaky ground in May. Many of the Labour councils have sizeable majorities, while many of the Conservative councils are decidedly more volatile. The party Chairman, Brandon Lewis, has been emphasising that this is a “difficult” point in the electoral cycle for the Conservatives.

For Labour, polling ahead in London in particular, this could be a promising election. Last year’s local elections saw Labour lose nearly 200 councillors, and control of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Northumberland. This year is a different story – Labour are already strong in many of the councils out for election and could get stronger.

The mayoral elections – five directly elected local authority mayors and the new mayoralty of Sheffield City Region – could also improve Labour’s standing. The new Sheffield City Region mayor will hold responsibility for Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield – all council areas with strong Labour majorities.

Certain areas will also shed some light on how the Liberal Democrats and UKIP are faring. 2017 was a near-complete wipeout for UKIP, and 2018 looks set to continue that trend. The Liberal Democrats have seen modest but not disastrous results in local by-elections since last summer, when they held on in traditional strongholds but missed out in parts of the west country.

Finally, the BNP’s last remaining seat, in Pendle, is up for election.

For our full breakdown of the elections across the country, including where you should be watching as election results roll in, check out our guide.

As usual, we’ll be live blogging the local elections – join us to help out

We have a growing collection of elections resources available, including the 2018 Guide to Elections Communications and the LGiU Fortnightly podcast covering the reasons why the school caretaker and the pencil sharpener are vital to our democracy. 

This is part of the 2018 LGiU Public Trust Lab.