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Teflon Boris? Super Thursday will tell.

30 April 2021

But the reality is, the results of these elections will ultimately tell us more about the national, rather than the local picture.

Charlotte Hunter Associate London

Putting aside the debate over whether Boris Johnson is in the wrong or right over the various recent allegations in the papers, the fact that the pressure is ramping up and he’s not budging from the headlines can only mean one thing – much of the country is off to the polls next week. Yes, it's election time.

This year’s elections were supposed to be relatively tame, with the majority being county council seats up for grabs, alongside the Welsh Senedd and Scottish Parliament. But the postponement of elections last year due to the national lockdown means that we also have the elections for: 13 directly elected mayors (including London), the London Assembly and those local authorities that elect in thirds. We also have the Hartlepool parliamentary by-election. So, with more at stake, it is highly unlikely that the Conservative Party machine is relishing the focus on their leader’s re-decorating taste.

These elections will be an interesting test for Boris Johnson’s party. This is the first time they have faced the voters since Brexit became a reality and the Government has sought to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic.

What impact will the elections have on our sector?

Up and down the country, candidates have been canvassing potential voters and focussing on local issues – with potholes being the obvious favourite topic for county candidates, resulting in the classic photo of rosetted contenders kneeling on roads and pointing with a frown at the offending gap. Those candidates fighting for a seat within a local planning authority will no doubt also be making claims to deliver more affordable housing and protect our green spaces. But the reality is, the results of these elections will ultimately tell us more about the national, rather than the local picture.

The single most important election on 6th May in relation to the national picture is that of the Scottish Parliament. What everyone will be looking at is whether the result shows us that the union remains strong, or whether we will soon be looking at how to deal with the question of a hard border between Scotland and England. No doubt Wales will be watching with particular interest.

At a metro mayor level, whilst many would agree that Sadiq Khan is likely to be heading towards securing a second term, other mayoral seats are not necessarily so clear-cut, and several Conservative-held seats should be targets for Labour. Many are questioning though whether Keir Starmer has done enough to re-take the traditional Labour heartlands. The results of these mayoral seats could also have a considerable impact on the direction of growth and investment in these areas.

Next Thursday has the potential to be the biggest democratic exercise since the last general election. That is assuming that voters turn out; local elections usually have far lower turnouts and there is still a question as to whether Covid-19 will keep people back from polling stations. Despite this, it is still a bumper election day and I for one am interested in seeing whether ‘Teflon Boris’ comes out bouncing again, or whether this time the muck has stuck.

The Communications Potential team will be monitoring the results closely. If you have a particular area you are interested in, or would like to know the potential implications of the results on your project, then do get in touch.