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Local elections 2022: the key issues this week

As local elections beckon across England, the Conservative party are forecasted to show heavy defeat across the board. Within the chaos of continuous scandal and the socio-economic crisis unravelling across the country, we look at the key topics relevant for Thursday’s elections and what impact the results will have across Westminster.

After months of political scandal and an increasingly unclear picture of UK politics following the Conservative Party’s recurring woes, this year’s local elections provide a tangible insight into the wider political landscape and a forecast of the next general election.

The elections held across England this week will decide who runs the local services that millions of us rely on and dictate how millions of taxpayer’s money will be spent each year. However, the upcoming elections will have a much wider impact on the political mood throughout Westminster and inside the political parties. Historically, the incumbent Government usually takes a beating in local elections, particularly when they have been in office for a number of terms. As the Tories have resided at 10 Downing Street for the last 12 years, the party looks to brace for more of the same.

Local elections this year are also being held in areas that tilt disproportionately towards Labour, compared to the rest of the country. Over half of local elections are being contested in London, which despite Labour’s losses in the last general election, currently holds 46 out of 73 MPs in the nation’s capital.

Particular battlegrounds include Croydon, Westminster, Birmingham, Somerset among others which are key for Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat. The outcome of the Westminster local elections is particularly nerve-racking for the Tories as Labour looks to gain heavily. The council has been held by the Tories continuously since its creation in 1964. But Labour has slowly increased its number of councillors at recent elections and will want to make more progress this time.

Key issues

Cost-of-living crisis

The most significant issue facing the Conservatives in this election is clearly the escalating cost-of-living crisis facing households across the country. With inflation reaching a 30-year-high, energy bills increasing by 54 percent and petrol prices reaching an average of £1.65 per litre the situation for millions of people across the country is untenable. With further price hikes forecasted and rises in National Insurance, the Conservatives have come under huge criticism for failing to alleviate households – a fact opposing parties will seek to capitalise on.

Within the cost-of-living crisis, the proposal of a windfall tax on energy companies has grown substantially in current rhetoric, following reports that BP have hit profits of $6.2 billion. Popularity of the one-off tax is significant across the population as individual pay extreme prices for petrol and energy. Ignoring calls for the windfall tax may prove critical for voters on Thursday.

Hospital waiting times

As the country emerges out of the coronavirus pandemic, the current NHS waiting lists stand at startling levels leaving millions of people unable to access treatment and care. With more than six million people currently left untreated, many are forced to pay for private treatment – paying taxes for a health service they cannot use. In critical areas such as oncology and cancer care, the Government is failing to reach its targets on early cancer diagnosis with urgent GP referrals falling from 87% to 70%. New figures show that 30,000 people are currently waiting for cancer treatment, often having to wait dangerously long for appointments after diagnosis.

The perceived lack of effort to address these concerns may push many voters against the Tories.

Partygate

A glaring topic of concern for the Conservative party is public opinion following partygate, as the Prime Minister and colleagues broke lockdown regulations to hold parties at 10 Downing Street. Given public opinion on the scandal has been unable to show itself in a tangible form, this week’s local elections will surely gauge the public’s discontent before the next general election. The Prime Minister has come under huge criticism from opposing MPs and even his backbenchers following the outcry.

Final thought

Given the current political rhetoric surrounding the Tories and worsening cost-of-living crisis, the outcome of Thursday’s elections seems extremely bleak for the Conservatives facing a potentially heavy defeat. Boris Johnson’s government is widely criticised for failing to alleviate households currently in a crisis – with the partygate scandal providing further ammunition for opposing parties seeking to gain on Tory dismay. Moving forward, a heavy defeat for Conservative candidates would expectedly cause major shifts to occur within the party and place Boris Johnson’s position as leader seriously uncertain.

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