Pollsters Electoral Calculus and Find Out Now forecast five per cent swing from Tories to Labour at local elections

Source: Daily Telegraph

ByChristopher Hope, ASSOCIATE EDITOR (POLITICS)14 April 2022 • 9:03pm

Boris Johnson
The polling was carried out before Scotland Yard’s decision to fine Boris Johnson for attending an illegal party during one of the Covid lockdowns CREDIT: Matt Dunham/PA

The Conservatives are on course to lose more than 800 council seats in next month’s local elections in results that, if repeated at the next general election, would see Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, become prime minister.

Pollsters Electoral Calculus and Find Out Now are forecasting a five per cent swing from the Tories to Labour at the local elections in England and Wales on May 5.

If replicated at a general election, the figures suggest Labour would emerge as the largest party in Parliament, 15 MPs short of an overall majority and probably reliant on a power-sharing deal with the SNP to form a government.

The polling firms asked about the voting intentions of more than 12,000 people in 201 district and unitary councils between April 4 and April 8. The sample was then weighted by gender, age, social class and past voting pattern.

Electoral Calculus and Find Out Now found the Tories are likely to lose 810 seats – with their wards falling from 1,965 to 1,155 – while Labour will gain 835, giving the party 3,722 predicted wards.

Prized Tory councils including Wandsworth – a totemic authority for the party as an early adopter of Thatcherite policies of council house sales and privatisation of street cleaning and refuse collection – are forecast to be taken by Labour.

Mr Baxter said Labour still faced the challenge of generating any real “enthusiasm” among voters compared with the surge away from the Tories that benefited Tony Blair’s Labour in the mid-1990s.

He told the Chopper’s Politics Podcast, which you can listen to on the audio player at the top of this article: “If you can cast your mind back to Tony Blair, he generated a lot of enthusiasm at the time. People were encouraged to vote for him.

“Keir Starmer has not yet shown that. There’s not yet been electoral victories without a proven enthusiasm by the British public to get Labour in and the Conservatives out.”

Mr Baxter said the forecast local election results, if replicated at the general election expected to take place in May 2024, would see Labour emerge as the largest party.

He described this as “a central forecast” and “quite a likely outcome”, adding: “We’d probably be looking at a Labour minority government that might be supported by the Lib Dems if they’re lucky. But it would probably be more likely to lead to SNP support. And obviously, the price of that SNP support would probably be a second independence referendum.”

However, Mr Baxter warned that a lot could change, saying: “A Labour minority government is currently where we are – but remember, we are mid-term. Things may well change in the next two years.

“Politics has been changing quite quickly in the last two years, so we will have to wait and see. But yes, it is literally true that anything could happen in the next general election.”