Pollster warns of election worse than 2019 as Tories set for wipeout

Lee Anderson gives his guide for voting in the local elections

Pollster Sir John Curtice has warned of a local election result worse than May 2019, as the Conservative Party is braced for a wipeout at the polls this week. The UK will go to the polls on Thursday, as voters will decide who fills more than 8,000 seats in 230 English councils.

In a desperate attempt to manage expectations last month, the Conservative Party’s own chairman said it may lose as many as 1,000 seats.

In the May 2019 local elections, the Conservative Party lost more than 1,300 seats under Theresa May.

The result was thought to be the worst Tory local election performance in 24 years.

But pollster Sir John told the Daily Express that the upcoming election could see an even worse outcome for the party.

He said, if recent polling is correct, “the Tories might end up doing worse than they did four years ago”.

Sir John also cast doubt on Greg Hands’ strategy of warning that a thousand seats may be lost, saying: “Mr Hands may find that his strategy… might not work quite as well as he is hoping.”

Speaking about recent opinion polls, the academic said: “We have seen two pieces of opinion polling which are not good news for the Conservative.

“Omnesis did a poll which came out on Friday in which they say they only polled those people who lived in places with local elections. How they were able to do that I don’t know. But they have the Conservatives down by five points as compared with May 2019.

“Meanwhile YouGov did an exercise where they asked a large number of questions and on average in those the tories were down 3 points in May 2019.

“So if that polling is correct, then – lots of caveats- the Tories might end up doing worse than they did four years ago.

“And if that fallback is correct, as these polls suggest, then Mr Hands may find that his strategy of saying – oh its going to be a thousand seats and crossing his fingers very hard and hoping that it’s going to be less than 1,000 seats, might not work quite as well as he is hoping.”

Speaking to Sky News in April, Mr Hands said: “The independent expectations are that the Conservatives will lose more than 1,000 seats and that Labour needs to make big gains.”

He added: “Those are the independent predictions from the most credible academic sources – that the Conservatives are likely to lose 1,000 seats.

“I’m campaigning really hard, we’ve got some brilliant councilors, great candidates out there.”

At the moment, the Conservatives Party trails Labour by 15 points.

In May 2019, the party was six points behind.

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