On the 6th of May elections will take place for councils and Mayors in England, Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales, as well as the devolved Welsh and Scottish and London, assemblies. This will be Keir Starmer's first electoral test as the Labour leader, and the first opportunity for the public to deliver their verdict on the Prime Minister's handling of the Coronavirus.
However, private polling conducted on behalf of the Labour party by a 'leading pollster' indicates the Conservatives are set to retain if not consolidate their leads in many of the key races.
As the Huffington Post reports:
'Private MRP surveys, conducted for Labour by a leading pollster, currently point to the Tories winning the Tees Valley metro mayoralty by a big margin on the first round of voting.
It also shows that in the West Midlands metro mayoralty, which Labour has seen as one of its key targets, the Tories are two points up on their 2017 victory.
In the West of England mayoral race, another target, Labour’s vote is up but still short of victory. In the new Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayoralty, the party is also behind the Tories.
A recent presentation to the shadow cabinet by Starmer’s chief of staff Morgan McSweeney revealed internal polling showed Labour had so far managed to get just 4% of “switchers” from the Tories since the 2019 general election defeat under Jeremy Corbyn... With the parties now more level nationally, the backdrop is different but senior Labour figures report that they still expect to lose seats in places like Sheffield, Bolsover, Sunderland, West Bromwich.
Internally, the party dismisses two polls recently that suggested Starmer could win back the vast majority of the so-called red wall seats that fell to Johnson in the 2019 election in the north and midlands. Its own polling is failing to show similar optimism.'
The last time these seats were contested in 2017, the Conservative party made historic gains in traditional Labour areas. Since that time the Tories consolidated their support in such areas in the 2019 election, so on one level the polling is unsurprising. However, for a government to be winning key local elections, consecutively, after 11 years of government and amid widespread criticism of their handling of Coronavirus, speaks to just how far Labour have fallen in the public's estimations. However, they have a few months to make up the difference, and deliver a shock result which could secure an early vindication of Starmer's leadership strategies.