In today’s English council elections, there’s no doubt that Labour will do better than in 2008 — the last time most of these seats were contested. Experts Colin Rallings and
Michael Thrasher predict that they’ll improve their ‘national equivalent vote share’ by 13 points
compared to four years ago.
But how many seats can they pick up of the back of that improvement? Rallings and Thrasher say a figure of 700 would justify a five-point lead in the polls. LSE’s Tony Travers expects
Labour’s gains to be around 700-800, and says that:
‘If Labour only manage to put on a further 500 seats, that would be seen as seriously underperforming expectations. Ed Miliband will need 900 gains for a good night.’
Of course, both sides have gone into expectations-management mode. Labour say they’re hoping for more like 300 gains in England, saying that:
‘The 700 figure is inflated because it assumes that a national swing will translate down to a local level. That is never the case. We all know that incumbency and local issues
Eric Pickles, meanwhile, said:
‘I would anticipate that 700 figure should be hit fairly easily. They may well go on to even greater numbers.’
So it seems 700 will be the dividing line between success and failure for the red team. Given that they hold 579 of the seats up, that means they need to win around 1,300 in total.
Significantly more than that, and Ed Miliband may be able to quiet some of his critics. Significantly less, and he might not make it to the general election.
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.