Local elections 2021: Look behind the big story

By Dr Jonathan Carr-West | 11 May 2021
  • Dr Jonathan Carr-West

The big story everyone is focusing on in these elections is the shift from Labour to the Conservatives; and the results (and the media coverage) certainly make grim reading for Labour HQ. But this obscures what it is a more varied and complex picture. If we look under the bonnet, the results actually tell us a lot about the influence of local issues and the importance of place.

It’s clear that the Conservatives are consolidating their position in Red Wall and non-metropolitan areas. As well as significant victories in Hartlepool and the Tees Valley mayoralty, they have taken control of 13 councils and won 235 seats overwhelmingly at the expense of Labour. The swing against Labour has been concentrated in those seats last contested in 2016 and not in 2017, suggesting that last week’s results are a continuation of an existing trend in British politics rather than a sudden shift.

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