Adam Toms

On May 6, England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland will elect their local representatives.

In Nottinghamshire, the electorate will choose their Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) – the voters’ representative aiming to hold local police services to account – and local councillors.

Local council elections in England and Wales use the first-past-the-post system.

The ballot paper will list candidates for their respective wards, and voters can vote for as many candidates as there are vacancies.

Police and Crime Commissioners are elected using a slightly different voting process.

Voters will rank their two favoured candidates as a first and a second choice.

If a candidate wins 50% or more of the first-preference votes, they win outright.

Alternatively, all but the top two candidates are eliminated, and the second-preference votes of eliminated candidates are reallocated to the surviving candidates.

The candidate with the highest resulting total is elected.

Paddy Tipping (Labour) won a convincing victory in 2016 with 47% of the vote. His Conservative rival, Tony Harper, accumulating 28%.

The political landscape in 2021 – after the U.K.’s exit from the EU and the beginning of a global pandemic – is unrecognisable from that of 2016, however.

Despite recent revelations regarding the sometimes questionable conduct of current and ex-Tory grandees, the Conservative Party continues to enjoy a buoyant position in the polls as Keir Starmer struggles to recover from Labour’s Corbyn years.

A week ago, polls projected a gap between the two largest Westminster parties resembling that seen betwixt Margaret Thatcher and Michael Foot in 1983 after the former’s landmark Falklands victory.

Naturally, this has resulted in optimism amongst local Conservative ranks as the PM seeks to rectify Theresa May’s horror show in 2017.

Nottinghamshire Tories have been speaking of a promising amount of positive reception, with representatives being stopped in the street and receiving thumbs up with beeps from passing car horns.

The question is, however, to what extent will this translate to votes and a consequential swing towards the blue team from what is usually a very strong performance from their red chief opponents?

The gap between 2016’s PCC candidates was considerable, and it would take a huge upturn in Conservative fortunes in Nottinghamshire for their candidate, Caroline Henry, to claim victory.

This turn towards the Tories, however, is not only conceivable and likely, but has already occurred.

In 2019, trademark simplistic messaging from Dominic Cummings – and adroit management from various campaign organisers – ensured the virtual demolition of Labour’s ‘Red Wall’, including in the East Midlands.

Gedling MP, Tom Randall, was a beneficiary of this.

Momentum from this success will most likely survive into May, resulting in larger numbers crossing Conservative boxes.   

Be that as it may, it is indeed common for some areas to prefer different parties for national and provincial governance, and some Nottinghamshire residents may choose to stick with or regain faith in local Labour representatives.

The deeply partisan Brexit issue, used by Johnson in order to garner huge amounts of appeal from Nottinghamshire’s usually Labour supporting ‘Leave’ voters, has been replaced by criticism of the PM’s indecisiveness and seemingly endless lockdowns.

Boris Johnson and his party’s candidates are embracing an Atlee-esque aim to ‘build back better’ after such huge affliction has been dealt to communities by the Coronavirus pandemic

This has been accompanied by care home and exam blunders, amongst others, from the government, in addition to the highest overall death rate in Europe.

Although macabre, these may still play into Labour’s hands.

Starmer is also currently attempting to push the topic of ‘the return of Tory sleaze’ after the leaking of dodgy texts from David Cameron and Boris Johnson, a talking point that the public is responding to according to the party’s researchers.

Despite these damaging factors, the Conservative’s trump card is a genuinely world leading, as opposed to a far from “world beating” test and trace system, vaccination rollout. This positivity and a slow return to normality will be on elector’s minds when they decide who to support.

Boris Johnson and his party’s candidates are aiming to consolidate this hope by embracing an Atlee-esque aim to ‘build back better’ after such huge affliction has been dealt to communities by a catastrophic international and national crisis.

In this case, inflicted not by a world war but by a viral killer invisible to the naked eye.  

Labour councillors are catchable but, with a strong historical foundation of support, Conservative campaigners must go at full throttle.  

Moreover, a recent spate of robbery and burglary in Arnold, resulting in additional police patrols, compliments Mrs Henry’s emphasis on a larger police presence.

Her party leader, of course, has also pledged an additional 20,000 recruits nationwide.

This will also please those concerned about the safety of women and girls following the death of Sarah Everard in March.

Paddy Tipping will also emphasise police presence, but hard-line policies on law and order are always relatively more associated with his rivals.

Notwithstanding this, Mr Tipping’s 2016 lead is larger than those of his councillor colleagues and will be harder for Mrs Henry to surmount.

The Labour PCC candidate has come across as clearly passionate about racial inequalities.

With a past record of involvement in the Stephen Lawrence murder case review, highlighting this may win him particularly strong support within the region’s minority communities. 

One must not forget the Green Party within this tussle of the usual giants.

Concerns regarding climate change have proliferated since 2017, resulting in more votes for candidates nationwide – particularly within younger metropolitan areas – though whilst most likely still not attaining a huge number of seats. 

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