All parties look to make gains in Bury council election as greater Manchester goes to the polls
- All Bury council seats are up for grabs with nation's eyes fixed on how marginal seat will unfold
- Polls show Labour will expect to perform well nationally, but Bury will be tough with both local and national issues key
- Out of 51 seats, Labour take up 28 whereas the Conservatives have 15
- Other seats are held by the Lib Dems Radcliffe First and Independent
Earlier this year, Christian Wakeford, the newly-elected then Tory MP for Bury South, defected to the Labour party amid the Partygate scandal, causing a large state of unrest on the Conservative benches.
This move, while it seemed momentous at the time, may have an unusual effect on tomorrow's local elections, especially in Bury, a town Wakeford represents alongside Tory MP James Daly.
Wakeford’s defection to Labour could means a few things in the election.
It could help Bury’s large Jewish community to feel safe voting for the Labour party again, after years of antisemitism allegations directed towards the party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
Wakeford won the seat as an anti-Labour candidate, so it would not be surprising if past Labour voters return to the party as a result of his defection.
On the other hand, it could leave the other parties with room to manoeuvre, making the election solely about local issues and ignoring the ongoing national debacle about the Partygate scandal and the cost of living crisis.
There is proof that Labour are using the national picture as a campaigning strategy, with leaflets focusing on Boris Johnson and the Conservative government, taking advantage of the government's low approval ratings.
The other parties, however, are aiming to pull voters in by discussing the local area and Bury council itself, a more understandable approach given what a local councillor can realistically achieve.
However, this is still a hurdle they can trip up on, especially the Conservatives, where voters may be unable to see the party as anything other than Boris Johnson.
In an interview with the Guardian, Nick Jones, the leader of Bury conservatives, stated: “When we knock on doors, we’re not there to talk about Downing Street. We talk about potholes in their street. The streetlights, the bins.”
There could be seen as proof that the local Conservatives around the country are aiming to distance themselves from Johnson’s government, with literature from the party- in the case of Hartlepool- pleading with voters not to “punish local conservatives for the mistakes made in Westminster”.
This leaflet from Hartlepool makes the point explicitly: “don’t punish local Conservatives for the mistakes made in Westminster” pic.twitter.com/wzQwN8OPOt— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) May 4, 2022
Radcliffe First may also make some more noise in this election, a locally-driven, populist party who currently have three councillors in the Radcliffe wards and will be fielding nine candidates out of a possible nine in the elections.
The Liberal Democrats as always will look to take advantage in these local elections, as well as other national parties like the Greens, being parties that thrive in non-national politics, and will continue an on-brand strategy of focusing on the Bury picture rather than the bigger one. With every council seat up for grabs, they will certainly use that to their advantage and hope to gain a few seats in an area that is being hotly contested between several major parties.
Bury Lib Dems: Anger over changes to bus services— Bury Lib Dems (@burylibdems) April 29, 2022
Local residents in Prestwich and Simister have been upset to hear about changes to long-established bus routes. As usual the bus operators and Transport for Greater Manchester seem to have made the changes without any consul… pic.twitter.com/twmCQ0mMP8
Despite all the murmurings of national politics and the idea of ‘protest votes’ against the government, local issues will still play a big part in who will come out on top, if anyone does, in areas like Bury.
Issues include street cleanliness, bin collection, public transport in Bury south and small areas being forgotten about by the council, which strays far away from any drama coming out of Westminster.
Labour is generally expected to perform promisingly in this election if the polls are to be believed , but in Bury that may not be as easy to predict with so much on the field of play.
Gareth Staple-Jones, a Labour councillor from Radcliffe, stated in a tweet that “so many people furious with this government, people embarrassed by the continuous gaffes, the lack of help for normal hardworking folks against the cost of living”.
Brilliant to be out tonight with @AJEnglish talking about the local elections.— Gareth Staples-Jones (@Gareth_SJ) April 26, 2022
SO many people furious with this government, people embarrassed by the continuous gaffes, the lack of help for normal hard working folks against the cost of living. #labourdoorstep pic.twitter.com/SETA50EUFc
The local Tory party, however, will have to stick to local topics if they are to make any serious gains in Bury, a similar picture to the rest of the country due to their plummeting approval ratings in recent polls.
Bury will be one to keep a close eye on, given the sheer number of elections taking place in the area, and the amount of parties running in each individual seat. It could be a truly captivating contest in the town tomorrow.
The full list of all candidates standing in Bury can be found here.