Counting got under way in local elections in the U.K. that may produce losses for Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party after more than a month of damaging headlines.
Results are being tallied overnight in cities including Birmingham and Manchester. The count in the highest-profile contest, for mayor of London, will start tomorrow morning, with the winner due to be declared during the evening.
Polls in London showed the Conservative mayor, Boris Johnson, extending his lead over Ken Livingstone, the former mayor who is running for the opposition Labour Party. That went against a national trend that saw Labour taking support from the Conservatives. Labour is likely to gain hundreds of the 4,800 local-council seats being contested outside the capital.
Support for the Conservatives has slumped to the lowest since the coalition government came to power two years ago. Cameron has faced a backlash over the March 21 budget that raided charities and pensioners to help fund an income-tax cut for the rich; the economy has slipped back into recession; and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is under pressure to quit.
The latest poll in London, carried out from April 30 to May 2 for the Evening Standard newspaper, gave Johnson a lead of 53 percent to 47 percent over Livingstone in the decisive second round of counting, when second-preference votes from the five minor candidates are totted up. YouGov Plc questioned 2,119 Londoners online and its voter predictions are based on the 1,238 respondents who said they were certain to vote. No margin of error was given.
Nationally, Labour’s has widened its lead over the Tories to about 10 percentage points on average in recent weeks, a figure that may see the opposition party gain about 700 council seats at the expense of the government parties, according to calculations by local-election analysts Michael Thrasher and Colin Rallings of the University of Plymouth.
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