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What would count as a success for Labour?

3 May 2012

In today’s English council elections, there’s no doubt that Labour will do better than in 2008 — the last time most of these seats were contested. Experts Colin Rallings and
Michael Thrasher predict that they’ll improve their ‘national equivalent vote share’ by 13 points
compared to four years ago.

But how many seats can they pick up of the back of that improvement? Rallings and Thrasher say a figure of 700 would justify a five-point lead in the polls. LSE’s Tony Travers expects
Labour’s gains to be around 700-800, and says that:

‘If Labour only manage to put on a further 500 seats, that would be seen as seriously underperforming expectations. Ed Miliband will need 900 gains for a good night.’

Of course, both sides have gone into expectations-management mode. Labour say they’re hoping for more like 300 gains in England, saying that:

‘The 700 figure is inflated because it assumes that a national swing will translate down to a local level. That is never the case. We all know that incumbency and local issues

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Eric Pickles, meanwhile, said:

‘I would anticipate that 700 figure should be hit fairly easily. They may well go on to even greater numbers.’

So it seems 700 will be the dividing line between success and failure for the red team. Given that they hold 579 of the seats up, that means they need to win around 1,300 in total.
Significantly more than that, and Ed Miliband may be able to quiet some of his critics. Significantly less, and he might not make it to the general election.

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Show comments
  • alexsandr

    deserted polling station here in rural south midlands. I wrote ‘None of them’ on my paper.
    Th epolitical class as a whole have failed us, both the local councillors and the ones in westminster.
    what will become of democracy if no-one votes cos all the candidates are rubbish.

  • Kevin

    Politics must be the only job from which you can be fired for catastrophic incompetence and yet have a reasonable expectation of getting it back again in four to five years.

  • Suzi

    Boris should be a good choice!!! Anyway its raining so Trade union party, ooops I mean the labour party voters properly still in bed or watching their sky tv they all seem to have.. so they won’t bother!!! GOOD..

  • Dimoto

    Gawain – pretty much my experience too, and the rain seems to be settling in.

    In my ward, (not a million miles from Peter From Maidstone’s), we DO have a UKIP choice – a local, slightly dodgy, and fairly dim, rascal.
    No doubt he’ll pick up a few “pub votes”, but I would be astonished if he makes any sort of mark.

  • Ralph

    strapworld, what will cost the Tories seats is that Labour are nowhere near as unpopular as they were in 2008. Labour should make large gains this time and win the mayoralty in London. Let’s see if they do.

  • TomTom

    How did we get a system where you only vote in 3 of 4 years and can only elect by thirds ? It makes it impossible to shift an incompetent Council.

    Why do we need elected Mayors ? Why can’t we simply elect the Council Chief Executive ?

  • Gawain

    The polling station where I voted this morning was deserted. A bushman in the Kalahari would have felt lonely. Only anecdotal I know, but, I suspect that low turnout may play a significant role in the outcome. Outside London Tory voters have little incentive to vote and it doesn’t take a great deal of rain to deter Labour voters. This could mean that the nutters might do quite well tonight.

  • Vulture

    Boris for Prime Minister! The only electable Tory.

    How many Tory MPs will rapidly come to that conclusion?

    If they hang on to desperate Dave, they’re toast.

  • strapworld

    However many council seats Labour win the fact that cannot be denied is that, as in the General Election, it was ‘Cameron that lost it’.

    Should Boris be elected it wil bel because of his personal support and certainly not with any help from Cameron. BUT I wonder where Cameron will be on Friday morning? Let us hope Boris gives it to him on behalf of all those dedicated conservative EX councillors.

    It also shows that Osborne’s strategic thinking is as moribund as Cameron’s.

    They both, with their pals, have to go and I have little doubt that there will be many a Conservative MP who will be in fear of losing their seats.

    And, forgetting all the problems we are facing, the only topic being discussed for the Queen’s speech is reform of the Lords.

    It is quite unbelievable.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    How many people will not vote for any of the three main parties? I won’t be. The trouble with looking at percentages is that it does not represent those people who do not wish to be represented by any of those standing. In my own ward I can choose from four people who represent one and the same political agenda – Conservative, Labour, Lib-Dem and Green. There is no choice. Movement of a reduced vote between these four does not represent what the electorate actually wants.

    If only 10 people vote in my ward and 6 vote for Labour and 4 for the Conservatives this would be reported as a massive swing to Labour. But it would not be. It would be a massive swing away from all the main parties.

    But this is not reported. It is easier to continue noting the new positions of the deckchairs.

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