Get set for local council elections

Nick Servini
Political editor, Wales


You have got to feel sorry for councillors.

There they are constantly in the shadow of national politics, and when they finally get their moment in the sun in the local government elections, what does Theresa May go and do but call a snap election.

What about turnout?

One view is that it will be greater than the 39% turnout in the 2012 council elections as more people are switched on to politics.

The other is the Brenda from Bristol "not another one" theory which is that too much is a huge turn-off.


A number of party activists are telling me on the doorstep it is proving more difficult to get voters to focus on local issues.

In other words it could become a proxy or warm-up national vote, and so will be considered a barometer for the big event a month later.

When that has happened in the past there have been some significant casualties, most recently the Liberal Democrats in 2012 when they were punished at the ballot box for entering a coalition with the Conservatives.

Could the same thing happen to Labour?

There has already been plenty of expectation management from senior figures, partly because so many people were surprised by how well they did five years ago. Labour now controls 12 out of the 22 local authorities across Wales.


In the past five years they will have been forced to make unpopular decisions related to cutbacks which they will inevitably get the blame for, despite protestations of passing on Tory cuts dished out by Westminster.

The response from Welsh Labour is to point to renewal in town halls and the fact that a generation of the party's council leaders are in the process of retiring.

The Conservatives are throwing numbers at the contest with more than 600 candidates, including 75 in Cardiff, 71 in Swansea and 50 in Newport.

Look no further than the Vale of Glamorgan as a starting point where it will be considered a bad night for the party if it does not regain control.

Plaid Cymru will look to firm up its leadership in existing counties like Carmarthenshire, and take a big scalp in the valleys like Caerphilly.


It is unclear if Plaid will be in a position to take advantage if it becomes a local election where UK-wide factors play a part.

And the same argument goes for the Liberal Democrats who are hoping the remain argument can once and for all provide the disconnect in the minds of the voters with the coalition with the Tories.

But having said all of that these are local elections, and so there will be, above all, 22 individual battles being fought around the country, each with their own dynamics.