This week, voters across the Midlands will go to the polls in the biggest set of elections outside a general election. Electing Councillors, Mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners, voters will be casting their ballot for the first time since the political earthquake that was the 2019 General Election.
The biggest Mayoralty outside of London, the West Midlands is definitely the one to watch, with challenger Liam Byrne MP (Labour), hoping to unseat the incumbent and shock 2017 winner Andy Street (Conservative). Recent polling gives Andy Street a nine-point lead and if this is repeated on polling day and is representative of the wider region’s results, we could see several Labour councillors lose their seats.
We should not, however, expect much change in the political administrations across the region’s councils, given the strong majorities held by Labour in the metropolitan areas and the Conservatives in the rural shires. That doesn’t mean there could not be significant changes at a local ward level though. The polling is favourable to the Conservatives but the current scandal engulfing the Government, and in particular the Prime Minister, means everything is still to play for in what will be close fought local battles in individual communities across the Midlands.
Here we look at the key battlegrounds across the East and West Midlands.
West Midlands Mayoralty
Incumbent Mayor, Andy Street is currently leading in opinion polls by nine points. This fits in with what many on the ground in both campaigns have been quietly saying for some weeks now. Former Labour voters in the historic heartlands are, it seems, sticking with the Conservatives, despite Jeremy Corbyn’s departure. It remains to be seen whether the scandal around the Prime Minister will make the difference for Liam Byrne here.
If Andy Street wins, we should expect his running mate for Police and Crime Commissioner Jay Singh-Sohal to be elected as the first Conservative Police and Commissioner Candidate for the region.
With no all–out elections in Birmingham until May 2022, this year will not see much change to the Labour administration’s large majority. Four by-elections in Billesley, Hall Green North, Oscott and Quinton are all being defended by the Labour Party but don’t be surprised to see a Tory gain or two in Billesley and Quinton. Conservative activists In Birmingham will be hoping the final few days of the campaign isn’t overshadowed by Downing Street scandals.
The strong Labour majority here is unlikely to be dented too much in these elections. It is likely we’ll see a Tory gain from Independent in Bablake ward but this could be undone by a third Labour gain in as many elections in the former safe Conservative ward of Earlsdon.
Labour’s large majorities in Sandwell and Wolverhampton will ensure they remain Labour controlled. In Dudley and Walsall, polling suggests larger Tory majorities, reflecting the significant number of Tory gains across the Black Country at the 2019 General Election.
Warwickshire & Solihull
This sub-region‘s politics have been heavily dominated by the Conservatives for nearly a decade but that could be about to change in Solihull. The Green Party has built up its base over several years and could emerge from this election as the largest party, able to form a coalition administration.
In Warwickshire, Conservative domination is likely to continue at the County Council. Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council is facing the prospect of a first Tory administration since 2010 if the party repeats its gains of 2018.
Across the rest of the shire Midlands, it seems unlikely that we will see much change overall, although the gains made by independents and smaller parties in the 2017 elections could be undone if the electorate revert back to the main political parties.
Across the East Midlands, we are unlikely to see many changes in political leadership but just a handful of Conservative gains in Nottinghamshire and Derby City would turn current minority administrations into outright Conservative control.
The main political changes could come in the form of new Police and Crime Commissioners for Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire with Labour defending all three roles against a backdrop of large swings to the Conservatives in these areas at the 2019 General Election.
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