Conservative councilors warned on Friday that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faces an uphill battle to win back voter confidence, following a string of results in local government elections.
In Sunak’s first electoral test as leader, the results on Friday afternoon revealed the extent of your party’s losseswith the Conservatives losing around 649 seats and control of over 38 councils, including Windsor and Maidenhead, Swindon and Stoke-on-Trent.
Several Conservative councilors said many voters had seen the poll as a way to punish Sunak’s government for its handling of key issues such as the cost of living crisis, immigration and the NHS.
Alan Jarrett, who lost his position as leader of Medway council in Kent after Labor scored a historic victory in the authority, said the results reflected the overall “unpopularity” of the National Conservative government and recent changes to the boundaries. electoral.
“The two main national problems that affect people here are the imposition of housing targets, which as far as Medway is concerned are unrealistic and impossible to meet and have created a sense that things are being imposed without local consent” , said. “Second, access to GP appointments. . . the public wants good public services delivered in a timely manner.”
He added: “The government can turn it around; If they have time before the general elections is another matter.
Party strategists had warned the Conservatives would lose up to 1,000 of the 8,000 seats up for grabs in 230 councils in England, with final full results expected on Friday night.
Conservative councilor Adam Stokes, who lost his seat and position as deputy borough council leader for South Kesteven in Lincolnshire, agreed that many people “voted on the basis of what is happening nationally” rather than out of discontent. with the local operation of services. “This was clearly an anti-Tory vote,” he added.
Friday’s result saw the district council leadership change from Conservative led to no overall control. “There was a lot of concern on the doorstep about national issues like immigration, the cost of living, that is, the cost of mortgages,” Stokes added.
Stokes argued that it would be “difficult” for Sunak to win a fifth Conservative term, adding that at this point in the election cycle there was “a lot of deep-seated discontent”. But “still, if he meets his five targets and the economy grows, there’s always a chance,” he added.
Others were more optimistic, arguing that while the Conservatives suffered losses, the opposition parties have yet to turn the high polls into tangible success at the ballot box.
“In general, mainly local issues dominated the campaign,” said Martyn Cox, who served as Bolton council leader in Greater Manchester. The Labor Party replaced the Conservatives as the largest party in Bolton, but failed to win enough seats to control the council outright.
“There may be some Tories who stayed home or voted Independents, but there was hardly a collapse in Conservative support,” Cox said.
“Neither Sunak nor Starmer came to the gates or made a big impact on the public. People may be upset with the Conservatives but have little faith that Labor can really help them,” he added.