Elections 2018: Will the North West provide some cheer for Corbyn and despair for May?

Jeremy Corbyn astounded critics and supporters alike with last year’s general election result but tomorrow may prove to be his toughest test yet.

Local elections are invariably often focussed on local issues but as the public go to vote this weekend the effect on the nation could be critical.

Corbyn and his supporters are hoping for big gains throughout the country – so much so that the Conservatives have been downplaying their election hopes.

Recent polls have suggested that the totemic Tory boroughs of Wandsworth (Margaret Thatcher’s favourite council) and Westminster are within reach for the Labour party.

Similarly, the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea is even more undecided – despite the Tories holding 37 seats, a swing of 15 which would offer Labour control, is not beyond the realms of possibility following the Grenfell fire last June.

It is not just a London affair however and the North West has been at the frontline of both parties’ local campaign in the past month.

Like down South there are predictions that it will simply be damage limitation for Theresa May and her cohorts with Labour expected to make gains on top of already strong council majorities.

Both major parties have visited the area in the last month with the Prime Minister attending a school in Sale and Corbyn launching his party’s national campaign in Stretford.

The name that has been on everybody’s lips is Trafford – a Tory stronghold since 2004 – it will be a major coup if Corbyn can snatch power away from the Conservatives in this borough.

With only a majority of two councillors to the Conservatives it has been drawn up by experts as a key Tory borough that could fall in a night of losses for the Government.

In some ways it is unsurprising to see Trafford as one of the few remaining blue hotspots as it is one of the richest areas in the North-West with the gross weekly wage for a man in Trafford running up to £673, which is just £30 less than in London and £158 more than in Salford.

Expectations are however running high following last year’s snap general election which saw local Conservative MP for Altrincham and Sale (which Trafford is part of) Sir Graham Brady’s majority halved.

The Government alarm bells would have also been sounded just 1 month previously as Labour’s nomination for mayor Andy Burnham won every ward en-route to an impressive victory.

His success so far in office has instilled belief in the Labour camp that they can wrest away Trafford and turn the whole of the North-West red.

Other areas to keep an eye on include Bury, which is always hotly contested and also Stockport which is currently controlled by no party despite Labour having two more seats than their nearest opposition the Lib Dems with 23.

A lot of the news will look at what happens in London but as Corbyn sits down and awaits the result his eyes will just as firmly be glued on what happens in the North-West.


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