The party is fighting a tough local election map, but could still benefit from symbolic triumphs in high-profile Tory strongholds
Labour heads into this week’s local elections with a spring in its step. The government is in the doldrums, the prime minister is scandal-tainted and unpopular, and the opposition is preferred on nearly all the major issues of the day. Labour has led the opinion polls for months, and Keir Starmer has opened up a lead over the diminished and beleaguered Boris Johnson, becoming the first Labour leader in a decade to hold such an advantage over his Conservative opponent. This sounds like a political environment in which Labour should prosper at the polls.
Not so fast. The bulk of this year’s English contests are being fought on Labour’s strongest terrain – London and other big cities – meaning more seats to defend and fewer opportunities for gains. Labour was also riding high when these seats were last contested. The 2018 contest, fought in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s 2017 campaign surge, was Labour’s strongest local election showing in the last decade.
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