John Curtice delivers verdict on whether local elections will be make or break for PM

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The upcoming local elections will be the first litmus test of public opinion on the struggling Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Faced with the ongoing fallout from the partygate scandal and yet another investigation into his conduct, polling expert Sir John Curtice has given his verdict to GB News on whether the Tories are facing an election nightmare in May.

GB News discussed the Prime Minister’s chances of clinging on to support after numerous scandals in Downing Street and the Conservative party have given Labour its longest sustained poll lead since 2017.

Speaking to anchor Alistair Stewart on Sunday morning, Professor Curtice explained Mr Johnson’s party may not suffer as badly as some expect on May 5.

He said: “Well I think the crucial point that has to be understood Alistair is that the local elections in England at least, are relatively easy for the Prime Minister to defend.”

He explained that the political landscape since the last round of local elections, most of which took place in May 2018, when then leaders Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn were polling relatively equally, is markedly different to what it is now.

He said: “We’re not looking at a comparison with the position in 2019, when the Conservatives were 12 points ahead, but with a set of relatively modest elections in which he two parties were even Stevens.

“Now, it is true that the Conservatives are behind in the polls, they’ve been behind in the polls ever since partygate broke through the headlines back in December.”

Labour is currently polling around seven points ahead of the Tories, according to major polls.

As of April 17, a Redfield and Wilton poll puts Labour on 42 percent, ahead of the Tories by eight points on 34 percent.

Deltapoll found similar results with their most recent poll from April 16, putting Labour way ahead on 43 percent, and Mr Johnson’s party remaining behind on 34 percent.

YouGov has also tracked the opposition ahead of the ruling party, with Labour commanding 38 percent of the vote, and the Conservatives five points behind on 33 percent.

But despite the downturn in support for the Prime Minister’s Government, the leading poll expert said some Conservative losses are to be expected – but an enormous loss is unlikely.

He explained that the local elections in England are taking place disproportionately in Labour-held territories – for example in London, where the Tories are currently in control of only seven of the 32 councils.

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Professor Curtice continued: “Outside of London its disproportionately Labour areas, and it’s only one-third of the council seats up for grabs in most areas, which again limits the chances of changes of control.

“I can find you councils on the fingers of two hands that perhaps the Conservatives might lose control, but frankly at the moment it’s unlikely.

“If it were to be much more than that, then indeed the Conservative’s position in the local elections will be markedly worse.

“This is, therefore, a set of local elections where if Tory MPs are saying there hasn’t been enormous losses, therefore it’s okay with Boris, they are at least at risk of being led astray by the way they are reading the results.”

Local elections are your chance to decide who you want in control of your local services – from bin collections to schools, housing, and even potholes – meaning a vast array of matters are up for contest in the local elections.

But they are also seen as a test of strength for the current Westminster party and are a brilliant chance for opposition parties to get ahead and gain ground before the next general election.

There were local elections in May 2021, meaning not all of the UK will be voting in this year’s round.

Those who will be voting will cast ballots in mayoral elections, new councillors to the City of London Corporation, elections for unitary authorities and elections for district councils.

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