Election 2024: South West political preview


Election 2024: South West Political Preview


“We continue the steady recovery process we have been engaged in for 12 to 18 months. We are on our way back. The Labour Party has peaked too soon and has nowhere to go but down,” said the Conservative Party Chairman—not in 2024, with various opinion polls facing meltdown at the forthcoming General Election, but in a summary of the Tories’ performance in the May 1996 Local Elections by the late Lord Mawhinney.

Of course, he was spinning a challenging set of results for the Tories, which saw Labour hit 45 percent and the Conservatives 28 percent of the vote. Labour rode the crest of a local government wave, taking their tally of councillors to nearly 11,000 in the last Local Elections before Tony Blair swept to power with a landslide in 1997.

The likelihood of another dim set of local results for the Tories seems certain, but where will their council seats leak? It’s here that the impact of national landslide conditions diverges at the local level. Some thirty years on, Tory support does not automatically land in the lap of Labour or the Liberal Democrats. The diversity of parties at a local level has increased, with Greens and Independents more prevalent. For comparison, in 1996, the three major parties held over 20,000 councillors; in 2023, the figure was over 15,000. With this background, our analysis considers the key issues in some of the councils up for grabs in the south west and, crucially, where each local planning authority is in the development plan process.

Paradoxically, Labour’s biggest fight is for overall control of Bristol City Council where there is no longer a Mayoral position at stake. This city is where the party will almost certainly win six out of six seats at the next General Election. But over time, the Green Party has established a significant foothold in practically all of Bristol’s central areas and may fancy their chances of an outright win.

We would be delighted to provide any further insight on these elections and their impact on development projects, local infrastructure, or local decision-making. Our Westminster-based Public Affairs team can provide insight into the effects at a national government level.

Contact us on swpolitics@jbp.co.uk

Download Our Election 2024: South West political preview

James Hinchcliffe, Strategic Engagement Director at JBP, has more than 20 years’ experience in political and community engagement. Before joining JBP he had a twelve-year career at neighbouring B&NES Council in political and corporate communications roles working for the organisation’s most senior politicians and directors. This work provided a long-term insight into the West of England (inc. South Gloucestershire) stakeholder and political landscape. James leads the team that supports housebuilding and infrastructure clients across South Gloucestershire and the wider region. 

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