Rudely interrupted: Ukip crash coalition's local election tussle

Local elections 2013: Far more interesting than we'd expected
Local elections 2013: Far more interesting than we'd expected
Alex Stevenson By

The coalition's battle for control of the 'shire' councils up for grabs today is being hijacked by Ukip, with all the attention now on the performance of Nigel Farage's party.

Ukip candidates are hoping to put in a strong polling performance today as voters go to the polls in local elections across England.

All the seats are being contested on 27 county councils and six unitary authorities, as well as one-third of the seats in Bristol.

Two mayoral elections are taking place, in Doncaster and North Tyneside. Wales only sees elections in Anglesey and there are no Scottish elections.

In England, the Conservatives are defending 1,477 seats and Labour just 255. It is the Liberal Democrats who are second across the mainly shire counties being contested, with 480 seats.

Independents have 125. Notably, there were just seven Ukip councillors who were elected in 2009.

Labour will be hoping to make gains in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and even Staffordshire and Warwickshire.

The Liberal Democrats will be optimistic about their chances of regaining control in Somerset, but Devon may prove too difficult an ask.

Northumberland, Cornwall and Cumbria are all currently in no overall control.

The Conservatives will be hoping to defend as many councils as possible against both, but could find their performance hampered by Ukip support.

The opinion polls are putting the Tories roughly ten points below their poll ratings in 2009, which suggests that there are ten per cent of voters to be picked up by the other parties.

Despite purdah at the local government level the coalition has rolled out a series of policies designed to appeal to potential Ukip voters.

Toughened rules on prison lifestyle, immigration changes and even movement from David Cameron on the EU independence referendum could all help mitigate the damage from the Ukip surge.

Assessments of the relative performance of the parties will be obscured by the fact the boundaries of one-third of all the seats being contested have changed since 2009.


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