Posted by:12 April, 2012
The expectations game ahead of the local elections is always good sport.
Last year, as it prepared to fight for council seats last contested in 2007, when it was a deeply unpopular administration, the party desperately tried to cool talk of a thousand gained seats. Their opponents said that really they should be hoping for even more.
This year it’s the same story. Labour is in a position to make sweeping gains as it contests a large number of seats won by the Tories at the height of their local popularity. There are fewer seats up for grabs but even so, the sources close to leader Ed Miliband quoted by the Telegraph last week who said the party’s target was for about 300 gains were being pretty fanciful.
Fortunately, we have the expertise of leading psephologists Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher to draw upon. When they wrote for us in late February, they set the bar for Labour at 500 gains. Having further analysed the parties performances in local by-elections since then, that figure still holds. It may be that gains of up to 700 seats may be necessary to demonstrate a clear lead over the other parties in popular opinion.
Of course the spin doesn’t stop once the polling stations close. So having read their pieces, I thought I’d put together some ‘at a glance’ benchmarks to help readers decipher the post-game analysis on 3 May.
I should make clear that this is my take on the signals that will indicate who’s had a good night and who’s had a bad one, it is certainly not the ‘Rallings and Thrasher-endorsed’ guide to who’s won or lost the local elections.
Good night for Labour
- Gains across England, Scotland and Wales pushing 600 (more than 400 in England alone)
- Taking control of Walsall, North East Lincolnshire, Reading, Thurrock,
- Taking control of Cannock Chase, Carlisle, Exeter, Harlow, Norwich or Rossendale
- Winning either popular vote or number of seats in Scotland
- Taking outright control of Vale of Glamorgan
Bad night for Labour
- Fewer than 500 gains across GB
- Failure to register a clear lead in the national equivalent share of the vote
- Failure to take control of Birmingham, Bradford, Plymouth
- Failure to take control of Nuneaton & Bedworth
- Losing majority on Glasgow City Council
Good night for Tories
- A bad night for Labour
Bad night for Tories
- A good night for Labour
- Failure to take Winchester
Good night for Lib Dems
- Any of the below not happening
Bad night for Lib Dems
- Losing more than 200 seats across GB
- Falling below 3,000 councillors in total
- Losing overall control in Cambridge
- Losing position as minority administration on Cardiff Council
From Civic Regalia
LGC’s political editor Dan Drillsma-Milgrom blogs on all aspects of town hall life