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May 2016 elections: The Spectator guide

4 May 2016

6:38 PM

4 May 2016

6:38 PM

Britain goes to the polls this week, as electoral contests take place in London, Scotland, Wales and across England. They’re the elections which James Forsyth described in the Spectator last week as the ones ‘no one has even heard of’. So what will happen on Thursday night and when will the results be announced? Here’s The Spectator’s run-through of the May 2016 elections:

London Mayoral election:

Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan go head-to-head in the London Mayoral contest. In 2012, Boris and Ken ran a close-fought race, with Boris getting 971,000 first-round votes to Ken’s 889,918. The relatively small margin between the two meant the result didn’t filter through until early evening. But this time, with the pollsters suggesting Sadiq is the clear favourite, we should know who is the new London Mayor much earlier in the day. Counts across the capital will be starting at 8am on Friday, and we should have a clear idea of who has come out on top by the middle of the afternoon. Although if the vote is closer than expected, Londoners could be waiting until 5.30pm to find out who will replace Boris.

Local elections in England:

Local elections are taking place across England, where 124 councils are up for grabs, including 35 Metropolitan councils, 19 Unitary authorities and 70 District councils. A total of 2,747 seats are being contested. Labour has the most to lose in the local elections – with the party defending some 1,335 seats on Thursday. Jeremy Corbyn has said that Labour will not lose seats this week, but as Isabel Hardman has pointed out, not everyone agrees with this assessment.

As is typical for a party in Government, the Tories, who have 884 seats which they’ll be fighting to hold on to, may make some small losses overnight.

Meanwhile, the Greens are battling to keep a grip on 48 seats, whilst Ukip are looking to make gains on the 31 seats they have already. For the Lib Dems, 331 seats which they’re occupying at the moment are up for election and Tim Farron will be hoping that the Lib Dems reverse their electoral misery of recent years. But given that the party is contesting several seats which they lost at the general election last year, there is no guarantee the Lib Dems won’t lose out again this week.

One place the party will be hoping to make gains, however, is in South Lakeland, where Farron’s own seat is based. The area remained loyal to the Lib Dems even in 2015, so it seems unlikely that voters here will turn against the Lib Dems this time. Whether the Lakes are the scene of the Lib Dem fightback or a rare outcrop of the party’s territory left in England will become clear on Friday morning.

So what are the other key battles to watch out for on the night? Sunderland, Tunbridge Wells, Rugby and Tameside are all likely to declare before the clock strikes 12. Rugby’s contest, set to declare at 11.30pm, could prove interesting if Labour manages to make some gains and turn the council back into no overall control. But the first big one to watch out for – Nuneaton – will be called a short time later. A defeat in Nuneaton for Labour, which the party lost in 2015, could give a key indication that Labour should brace itself for more defeats as the night wears on.

12.30am: Shortly after midnight, we’re likely to see Newcastle-upon-Tyne declared. Ukip is contesting every seat in this local election battle whilst Labour have been fighting hard to pinch some seats from the Lib Dems here.


2am will see Swindon likely to declare its results. The council is marginally controlled by the Conservatives and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will be hoping that his party might be able to wrest control of Swindon away from the Tories. A number of other key battlefields including Tandridge, Birmingham and Coventry also declare around this time.

At 3am, we’ll see Exeter, Plymouth, Preston and Southampton announce their votes. There are predictions that Labour could lose control of Southampton. If they do, it’ll spell a long night for Jeremy Corbyn, which could get worse quickly if they suffer defeat in Redditch at around 3.30am.

At 4am, we’ll hear the results of the contests taking place in Portsmouth, Slough, St Helens and Welwyn Hatfield.

But for those who decide not to stay up, there’ll still be plenty of results declared after morning breaks: Labour will be hoping to keep hold of control in Cannock Chase, which declares at 11am. Elsewhere Cheltenham, Milton Keynes and Oxford will probably declare at midday. Whilst Rochford, Liverpool and Burnley are due to return their results around 3pm. Rossendale, which declares around the same time, could also spell bad news for Corbyn if Labour lose out there.

Later on in the day, it’ll be interesting to see whether Ukip succeed in emulating their success in Rotherham, set to declare at 5pm. And the last to call on Friday, includes Warrington, Woking and Wokingham at 6pm, with Sheffield residents left waiting until 9pm.

Welsh assembly elections:

Wales is also going to the polls, with 40 constituencies and 20 regional seats up for grabs on Thursday. Ukip are aiming to make gains across Wales, in particular in the south east of the country, where the party enjoyed its five highest vote shares in the 2015 general election. The Welsh Conservatives, who won three extra seats at the 2015 general election, are aiming to target Labour-held seats in Cardiff North, where we’re likely to see a result by 5am; Glamorgan, which has an estimated declaration time of 5am, and Gower, where a result looks likely at around 3am.

Other key contests in which Labour will be desperate to cling on include Clwyd, set to be called at around 3am, Delyn, at 2.30am, and Wrexham, at 3am. Elsewhere, Jeremy Corbyn will be monitoring Aberavon, Clywd South and Clywd West and Monmouth, all set to declare by 4am.

Meanwhile, the Green party is aiming to challenge Labour in Llanelli, estimated declaration time 2.30am, and Rhondda, set to declare at 5am. Although some results won’t be in until later on the afternoon on the 6th, we’re likely to know most of the main results by the early hours of the 5th.

When the constituencies are declared, we will also find out results from the regional areas including South Wales East, South Wales West, and Wales Mid and West between 5am and 7am on Friday. It’s in these seats that Ukip stands its best chance of winning representation.

Scottish Parliament elections:

Scotland will see some of the more interesting contests playing out overnight. We’ll find out whether Scottish Labour is wiped out and also whether Ruth Davidson’s off-the-wall campaign pays off at the ballot box. Counts are taking place through the night for the Scottish Parliament, where the earliest counts will begin in Argyll and Bute at 10.45pm on 5th May; it’s likely that we’ll get results from both of these at 4am.

Elsewhere, we’ll see a large number of results filtering through at 3am, with Dundee, Angus, Kilmarnock and Galloway and Dumfries West declaring around this time. Later in the night, it’ll be the turn of Edinburgh’s six seats to declare at 3.30am, around the time when we’ll also likely to find out the outcome of the results in Glasgow too. As with the elections in Wales, it seems that the regional results – in areas including Scotland Central, Scotland North East and the Highlands – will be amongst the last to declare, between 7am and 8am.

Key battles taking place during the night include Edinburgh Central, which the SNP took from Labour in 2011 by just 237 votes. Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson is aiming to win this seat for her party, in the count which kicks off at 2am and is likely to be declared at 3.30am.

Orkney and Shetland – both Lib Dem heartlands – will be a major coup for the SNP if they win these areas which will declare at around 2.30am.

Elsewhere, former Scottish labour leader Johann Lamont, who has represented Glasgow Pollok since 1999, will be aiming to hold off the SNP in his constituency. Labour won by just 623 votes in 2011. We’ll find out the result of that contest at around 3.30am.

And whether Labour’s worst fears play out will be revealed in Edinburgh East, in a seat contested by Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale. The vote there will probably emerge at around 3.30am.

Police and crime commissioner elections:

Police and crime commissioners have largely failed to have the impact they were intended to have, and turnout for these contests is likely to be very low. Nonetheless, more than a dozen PCC contests are taking place. Avon and Somerset, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Cleveland, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, Durham, Dyfed-Powys, Essex, Gloucestershire, Gwent, Hampshire, Herts, Humberside, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Merseyside, Norfolk, North Wales, North Yorks, Northamptonshire, Northumbria, Nottinghamshire, South Wales, South Yorks, Staffs, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, Thames Valley, Warwickshire, West Mercia, West Midlands, West Yorks and Wiltshire are all voting for PCCs.

Count start times vary between midnight (0.01am) on 6th May (Hampshire) to 2pm (Lancashire and Merseyside). Whilst in Wales, where counts for assembly elections are also tasking place, the winners of the PCC contests in North Wales won’t become clear until the 8th May, when counting kicks off from 11am.


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