Voters Swing to Labour in English Local Elections: Key Takeaways

By John Mercury May 5, 2024

While the votes in local elections in England and Wales were still being counted on Friday, a picture has begun to emerge of significant losses for the governing Conservative Party.

The voting on Thursday to elect councilors, mayors and police commissioners in local elections, seen as a last test of public opinion before a general election expected later this year, portends a difficult road ahead for the party.

Here are four takeaways.

Leading up to the local elections, the question was not whether the Conservatives would suffer, but just how bad the blow might be. The party has trailed Labour, the main opposition party, in opinion polls for some time, after a series of scandals, the implosion of Boris Johnson’s administration and the embarrassment of the 45-day prime ministership of Liz Truss, leading many Britons to look elsewhere for leadership.

By midday on Friday, the early results suggested that the party might have fared even more poorly than its leaders had feared. When all is said and done, some analysts think the Conservatives could lose as many as 500 council seats, a signal of serious trouble ahead for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s beleaguered Conservative Party.

Around one-third of England’s council seats were contested, along with 11 mayoral seats in major English metro areas. While these elections were about local leadership, the results of Thursday’s vote serve as an important barometer of overall public opinion, and ultimately a test of whether the Conservative Party can retain power in a general election expected this fall.


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