On Tuesday nominations were closed and declared for the local elections on Wearside which will take place on Thursday, 5th May, commencing the month long campaign period up to the vote.

It is a city council up up grabs. Last year the Labour Party came close to losing their majority in the city with an unprecedented surge in Conservative and Liberal Democrat support, but ultimately held on through a strong coalition in the coalfields and Washington.

However, British politics has also changed a lot in just a year. Whilst the Conservative Party were on a national scale, flying high against a Labour in disarray, Boris Johnson’s reputation was dealt severe damage in the closing months of 2021 as the “partygate” scandal rocked national trust and confidence in the government. This has allowed Labour to enjoy some poll leads, or otherwise be neck and neck with the Tories.

On a local level, the Labour Party have lost ground in every recent election owing to both the national context and the perceived unpopularity of the council. Although once tribally Labour, an identity shift has seen some voters in the city start to try “new options” beyond the two main parties, which has led to gains for the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and others. UKIP has despite being nationally irrelevant, also maintained a presence on Wearside.

Given these circumstances, SGM predicts the elections could go in any direction. Labour are not out of the game and have a chance, given a spree of breakthrough developments in the city, to reclaim some lost ground. It will be seeking to contest the key marginal battlegrounds against the Conservatives, which include St. Chad’s, the Barnes, St. Peter’s and St. Anne’s whilst also maintaining its hold over the coalfield and north of the river strongholds.

In the meantime however, the Liberal Democrats are not to be underestimated. They have positioned themselves as the key alternative to the main parties and have won scores of seats throughout the city due to effective local campaigning. SGM predicts this will continue and should labour lose its majority, they will be kingmakers in any new coalition.

Also featuring in this year’s local election is the Communist Party of Britain. An outlying prospect, it is fielding its only candidate in the North East in Millfield, Julio Romero Johnson. Having also stood in 2021, he only received 32 votes, better luck this time round?

SGM will otherwise be bringing you as many reports, updates and commentaries as possible in the run up. If you are a candidate and you want to contribute an opinion piece, please let us know, irrespective of your party we will give everyone a voice.

By SGM

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