Local elections 2019: everything you need to know

  • Which parties are standing and what they want to do
  • What these elections mean for Manchester
  • What the coverage will be on the day

This Thursday, everyone registered to do so in Manchester can head to the polling station to cast their votes in a local election.

This election will determine the makeup of a number of councils across England and could be seen as a referendum on the main parties’ handling of Brexit.

The Conservatives, who are defending the most council seats, are expected to lose a significant amount of support.

Embed from Getty Images

Labour have taken a convincing lead in the polls over the Tories for the first time since the Blair years and will be hoping to capitalise on their popularity with a resounding victory.

However, Labour’s attempts to pander to both Remain and Leave voters could be their undoing, with the Liberal Democrats and Green Party offering an unambiguous Remain option and UKIP representing Leave could tempt traditional Labour voters away.

In Manchester itself, things are unlikely to change as only a third of seats are being contested and even if Labour lost them all, they would still have a majority on the council.

However, Salford could return the lowest number of Conservative councillors since 2003 and Trafford, which is under no overall control, only needs two seats for Labour to take charge of the council, which has been under Tory control for most of its history.

We’ll have more political analysis and coverage from other Greater Manchester districts on the day, but for now let’s have a look at who is contesting seats in the city region.


Sir Richard Leese
Manchester Council Leader Sir Richard Leese. Photo credit: Laura Kidd on Wikimedia Commons

Labour is defending all 33 seats being contested this year and given the polls currently, is likely to do so successfully. 

The party cannot be complacent, though, and have launched a full manifesto for Manchester, which contains a spelling mistake on its introduction page. (There’s no possessive apostrophe in its!)

Sir Richard Leese runs the council and his party promise to continue to fight cuts introduced by Tory and Lib Dem politicians, help people who have been subject to hardship under Universal Credit and increasing recycling rates.

Labour have 94 out of 96 seats in the council and should have no problem getting any of their policies through.

Liberal Democrats

Lib Dem John Leech
Lib Dem cllr John Leech with the manifesto. Photo Credit: Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dems are contesting all 33 available seats and the two they currently hold on the council are not being contested this year.

John Leech leads the party in Manchester and was the sole Lib Dem councillor for two years before he was joined by Richard Kilpatrick last year.

The Lib Dems are hoping to capitalise off a growing movement towards a second EU Referendum, or cancellation of Brexit altogether and their manifesto, entitled the ‘Not putting up with this sh*t anymore’ manifesto promises to back a People’s Vote as well as scrap the Homeless tax and reverse the 22% council tax increase.

A few extra seats on the council would send a clear message to Labour and potentially frustrate some of their plans, while giving the Lib Dems more of a platform.

Green Party

Green Party
A Green Party placard during an anti-austerity march. Photo credit: Midnightblueowl on Wikimedia Commons

The Green Party are contesting all 33 available seats this year and may see a swing from left-leaning voters who want to remain in the EU as they are also backing a People’s Vote.

Their manifesto can be found on their website and they offer the hand of friendship to other parties claiming they “Don’t have a monopoly on good ideas”, but such an approach doesn’t strike as being particularly confident of actually winning any seats.

Key pledges the party have made aim to push for more affordable housing, boosting Manchester’s walking and cycling networks and maintaining rights and providing help for EU citizens living in the city.

A Green councillor or a significant swing to the party from Labour could provide impetus for the ruling party to introduce more enviromentally-focussed policies.


Uncertainty over Brexit may shape this local election. Photo credit: ilovetheeu on Wikimedia Commons

The Tories are also contesting all 33 available seats, but when they are unlikely to win in Manchester in a normal year, a betting man would have them returning zero seats in a year the party faces backlash.

Their manifesto is the usual opposition party affair; mentioning that Labour have been in power since 1973 quite frequently. On one page they compare pictures of Piccadilly Gardens in the 70s and present day to evoke a rosy sentiment about the past, although such a thing is easy to do when the recent picture was taken on an overcast day, compared to the glorious sun of the 70s image.

Their policies include opposing a congestion charge to fund public transport, to combat CO2 emissions from cars and putting more bins on the streets. They have also amusingly got the date wrong, telling people to vote on May 3rd, the day after the vote. 

A single Conservative councillor or any swing towards them would be a huge shock and would be a blow to Labour in its heartland.

Women’s Equality Party

Sam Johnson Women's Equality
One of WE’s founding members, Sam Johnson is standing in Deansgate. Photo credit: Women’s Equality Party

The WE Party are fielding four candidates across Manchester in Deansgate, Crumpsall, Chorlton and Didsbury West.

You can read about each of the candidates they are fielding here – they are doing so in Manchester for the first time. The party’s first leader, Sophie Walker, recently stood down so that women from minority backgrounds could lead instead.

Unsurprisingly, the party’s policies are to create greater equality for women, but unusually for smaller parties they seem to know they won’t govern. This makes a refreshing difference as each candidate talks about how she will bring attention to the inequalities facing women in the council, so you can have a realistic idea of what they would do if elected.

If any of these women were elected, it would send a message to Labour that they need to do more to create gender parity.


UKIP logo
UKIP have yet to release a manifesto or provide much information about their candidates. Photo credit: Jozef Gabcik on Wikimedia Commons

UKIP is fielding seven candidates across Manchester hoping to pick up on frustrated Leave voters.

The party is yet to release a Manchester specific manifesto although it is well known for being, more or less, a single-issue party.

That issue is to ensure Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. The party blames the Tories and Labour of frustrating the process and favours a hard Brexit, outside of the Customs Union and Common Market.

If any UKIP councillors were elected in Manchester, it would send a message to Labour that they had left behind Leave-favouring voters.

Incumbent Labour Cllr Pat Karney pointed out that UKIP’s candidate, Michael Felse, is standing both in Harpurhey and in another constituency in Ordsall, Salford. It would be interesting to see what happened if he won both…



On Thursday night, some of our reporters will be attending the count in Salford, which will have a report by Friday morning on this site.

On Friday, some more reporters, including myself, will be attending and reporting live from the Manchester count and by the end of the day, as more results are known, we will have some analysis of results across Greater Manchester and what message, if any, has been sent across the political spectrum.