Britain heads to the polls twice this spring, and the first time is today. The 2017 UK Local Elections will no doubt be seen as a sneak preview of June’s general election.
The general election and local elections are not always compatible, but 88 councils and 4,851 council seats are in play, most of which are in Scotland and Wales. All Scottish and Welsh councils will be elected tonight, while 34 English councils vote as well.
With this much going on, this will be seen as an early test for Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, and the other party leaders. Labour enters the evening with more seats than any other party at 1,535, about 400 ahead of the Tories.
2017 UK Local Elections: Scotland
What’s most notable about the Scottish councils is that entering today, the SNP only holds a majority in two. Those are Angus and Dundee City. Angus is a bare majority of one, while Dundee is a slightly more comfortable majority of three. Nevertheless, the SNP owns virtually all Westminster parliamentary seats and is the largest party at Holyrood.
In fact, the Scottish Nationals lost seats in the 2016 Holyrood election, but all of this was before the Brexit vote. Nicola Sturgeon and her party have made it clear they want a rerun of the independence referendum. What happens in June north of Hadrian’s Wall will be very telling. We may see signs of that tonight if the SNP starts taking councils.
The Conservatives have also made some noise in recent Scottish opinion polling. In the latest YouGov poll for the general election, they are up to 32 percent with the SNP falling to 36. 50 percent was the number for the SNP in 2015. If they don’t get there tonight, it won’t be earth-shattering, but it will if it happens again on June 8.
2017 UK Local Elections: Wales
Most of Labour’s controlled councils are in Wales with ten. They’re far and away the largest party in Wales with 580 councillors.
Those numbers could come crashing down for Labour if recent polling is correct. YouGov again weighed in, and the Tories are neck and neck with Labour. The Conservatives have just 105 of 1,271 seats in Wales with no councils controlled.
2017 UK Local Elections: England
England is where the Conservatives have done their best, and there’s no surprise there. The Tories will be on defense in places like Staffordshire, where they have a narrow majority, and unitary authorities like Shropshire and Wiltshire.
In 2016, very little changed in English council elections. This is compared to 2015, when the Tories gained 541 seats on the same night that David Cameron led the Westminster party to a majority.
2017 UK Local Elections Update: How Did It Turn Out?
In what turned out to be nothing like June’s general election, the Conservatives did well. The Tories led with 38 percent of the vote, compared to Labour’s 27 and the Lib Dems’ 18. This translated into a gain of 563 seats for the Conservatives across British councils. Labour lost 382, while UKIP was nearly wiped out, shedding all but one of 146 seats.
It did, actually, turn out something like the general election for UKIP, anyway.
When there are more British elections to be had, our British election calendar and British election predictions page is the place to see when.