Plaid Cymru could lose 42 seats and control of Carmarthenshire Council amid Labour surge, new poll projects
A new poll of the local elections has projected that Labour could take Carmarthenshire as Plaid Cymru lose 42 of their 193 seats across Wales.
Plaid Cymru currently hold 37 seats on Carmarthenshire council and form an administration with 13 independents, while Labour only hold 17 seats. Part of the county, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, is also held by Plaid Cymru at both Westminster and Senedd level.
Nevertheless, Carmarthenshire is among the ‘councils predicted to change hands’ according to a poll by Electoral Calculus and Find Out Now.
After a poor showing in 2017 Labour are predicted to return to levels of support last seen in the mid-90s, taking a swathe of Plaid Cymru and Conservative seats with them.
However the only other council in Wales predicted to change hands is the Vale of Glamorgan, returning to the Conservative fold. The Tories won 23 seats at the Vale of Glamorgan in 2017 before infighting reduced their number to 15, handing control to a coalition of Labour, independents and Llantwist First.
The poll of 2,148 GB adults was conducted between 27-28 April, and predicts a swing of 6percent to Labour away from Conservatives. The prediction is that Labour will gain around 16 councils and are not expected to lose any.
Martin Baxter, CEO of Electoral Calculus, said: “These results would also be good for Keir Starmer, who needs to get his first real electoral gains since becoming Labour leader. The opposition doesn’t normally win a general election without winning other elections first, and Labour have to show that they can do that.”
Across the nations of the UK the survey, conducted by Electoral Calculus with Find Out Now, suggested that Labour could be on course to gain more than 800 seats, while the Tories are likely to lose 548 seats on councils across the country.
Predictions about the result of the local elections on Thursday May 5 come as the Government faces criticism for the partygate scandal and pressure to intervene on the cost-of-living crisis.
However veteran elections expert Professor Sir John Curtice meanwhile emphasised that as voting was mainly taking place in “Labour Britain”, vast changes to the political map were unlikely, but did predict the “risk” of Tory losses in London.
Professor Curtice told the PA News Agency that it was hard to predict the outcome of local elections, adding the loss of 550 seats was “not unrealistic”.
“The history of local elections is littered with failed attempts to accurately forecast the number of gains and losses in terms of seats,” he said.
On claims that the results could be the worst for the Conservatives since the 1990s, Professor Curtice said the picture was “distorted” by the fact that elections are taking place in Scotland, Wales and London, which are “not particularly” Tory-voting areas.
Professor Curtice said: “The figures in terms of the Labour Party being 15 points ahead, that is a function not of some gigantic change, because actually once you take these figures and relay them back to 2018, it is a relatively small movement.
“It is because it is Labour Britain that is voting in the first place.”
However, Professor Curtice forecast there was a “risk of a couple of iconic Tory losses in London”, including the London borough of Wandsworth.
The Electoral Calculus survey suggested that the Conservatives could lose Wandsworth, Westminster and Barnet borough councils in London, as well as Southampton, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Thurrock elsewhere.
Lord Hayward, the Conservative peer and election analyst, predicted the Tories have more to be worried about from losing seats to the Lib Dems in “county town England”, than to Labour in larger towns and cities.
He said it was “possible but not certain” that the Conservatives could lose control of long-held London boroughs, forecasting likely losses of between 250 and 350 seats for the Tories across England, Scotland and Wales.
But he predicted the Conservatives would be more likely to lose seats to the Lib Dems than to Labour.
Lord Hayward said: “The reason I say it will be a bad loss is because a fair proportion of the losses will be to the Lib Dems in the shire counties – the Surreys, the Hertfordshires, the Oxfordshires of this world.
“The reason that will be bad is because it will unnerve many of the Conservative MPs.”
He added: “It is small town England, or county town England where people are going to be unnerved, where they won the seats in 2010 and 2015.”
The Conservative peer, who predicted the Brexit vote result, said predictions of high Tory losses could be “expectation management”.
Lord Hayward said: “On the Tory side it is trying to up the numbers of losses that they expect. On the Labour side, their argument is that even that would be their best results in a decade.”
He added: “They (Labour) are saying it will be the best for a decade, but that in itself is not a major achievement given their terrible under-performance in recent years.”
In an interview with BBC Radio London, the Prime Minister was asked whether the Conservatives losing Wandsworth borough council could lead to his resignation.
Boris Johnson told the BBC: “I am very, very confident that we have the right approach to the finances of local government.
“I think Wandsworth councillors are superb, they deliver value for money, and the reason they have the lowest council tax in the country is because of four decades of sensible financial management by Conservatives.”
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