The votes are starting to be counted in a series of elections that will help us gauge the political fortunes of Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer.
Although people voted for the local elected officials who will be responsible for town planning, housing and refuse collection, these local elections give voters a chance to have their say on national issues.
So what would represent a good performance for either side and what would cause concern?
Politics Hub: Track local election results as they come in
Over 350 seats lost: This would indicate that the party has been caught in a pincer movement between Labor and the Liberal Democrats.
Tory MPs from fringe ‘red wall’ and southern constituencies will be worried about an election on the horizon.
Losses of 100-150: The government will see this as a ‘mid-term blues’, but it would confirm that the Tories are now trailing Labor in terms of popular support.
Little change: A comfortable position for the government at this stage of the legislature.
Gains of 100 to 150: This would be a sign that the Tories are continuing to make inroads into uncharted, previously Labor territory, as we saw in the 2019 and 2021 local elections.
It would vindicate Mr Johnson and likely strengthen his position in Downing Street.
More than 200 seats won: the party’s best local electoral performance in at least a decade.
It would potentially be a buttress on Labor’s path to becoming the largest party in Westminster, even if it falls short of an outright majority.
50-100 wins: Progress from 2018, possibly including winning some key target boards like Southampton and Wandsworth.
Little change: Disappointing for Sir Keir, given the government’s setbacks, but that would suggest a much stronger showing in the Red Wall seats than in the 2021 Locals.
100-200 casualties: 2021 again with support in parts of the still vulnerable northern and urban Midlands.
What races should you watch?
Below are the top local authorities to watch, along with an expected reporting time and background to explain the importance of the contest.
A projection of the results from YouGov, reported exclusively by Sky News on Wednesday, suggests Labor is likely to make progress on key battlegrounds but may struggle to gain a significant number of new tips.
The Conservatives have either been in control or the largest party here since 1964. Labor hopes to lead the Tories closely.
A staunchly Conservative council for a number of years, but boundary changes have reduced the number of seats from 60 to 45. Any Labor gains will be encouraging for the party.
The second safest Tory council in London, so the majority of the party should not be in danger. But as with Bexley, Labor hopes to make inroads.
The Labor majority on the council could be under threat after a number of controversies involving the local authority.
Normally a reliable Tory bulwark, but if Labor have a really good night the blue majority could be in jeopardy.
Kensington and Chelsea (0500)
One of the most polarized boroughs in the capital, with Labor stuck in North Kensington and Tories virtually unassailable in South Kensington and Chelsea.
Controlled by the Conservatives since 1978, but Labor won the most votes last time out and now control all three parliamentary constituencies in the borough.
Less than two percentage points separated the Tories and Labor last time out.
Metropolitan borough councils
One of the boroughs that saw a sharp drop in Labour’s vote share between 2018 and 2019. The parliamentary constituency of Penistone and Stocksbridge, which straddles the border between Barnsley and Sheffield, was captured by Labour’s Tories.
Labor won just over 50% of the vote four years ago and expect to match that strong performance. The Conservatives won the Birmingham Northfield parliamentary constituency in 2019.
The Tories won the Bolton North East parliamentary seat in 2019 but could have their work cut out to match their performance last year when some council seats were contested.
Labor will expect to retain its narrow majority here if it repeats its performance from 2018.
A borough that has swung to the Conservatives for a few years, so how many seats the party manages to successfully defend will be one to watch.
Sand pit (0200)
Labor dominates the council here, but if the Tories repeat their 2021 performance they could cause problems.
The council is currently run by a Labour/Green administration and the real challenge to Labor here will come from the Liberal Democrats.
Labor has a comfortable majority here, but that has recently come under pressure from the Tories and Liberal Democrats.
The resignation of Constituency MP Imran Ahmad Khan, who was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy and said he intended to appeal the verdict, means that this borough will be closely watched before the upcoming by-elections.
Seven Conservative defeats here would see the party lose its overall majority.
The Conservatives took two parliamentary constituencies in this area in 2019 and the borough-wide vote share will be more attractive than the number of seats won.
Scene of a Tory by-election won on the same day as the 2021 local elections. There will be strong interest in whether Labor can put on a strong showing and reassert its presence.
Kingston upon Hull (0330)
Labor won an overall majority by a narrow margin in 2018, but the Liberal Democrats won the popular vote.
This council has swung between Labor and Conservative for much of the quarter century since it became a unitary authority.
A suspended council with close votes between the three main parties. Labor need a good result here after falling back in the previous two election rounds.
Authority has been fiercely competitive between Labor and the Conservatives. The Tories have a majority of two and Labor could regain control of the council.
Amber Valley (0200)
A former mining area that has been in predominantly conservative hands since the turn of the century. Labor retaining the eight seats they hold that are contested this year will be seen as a good result.
Labor could take control of this council if they register a clean sweep of seats up for grabs this election cycle.
Nuneaton and Bedworth (0400)
Labor has retreated here since losing control for only the second time in more than 40 years in 2018.
South Cambridgeshire (1500)
The Liberal Democrats are defending a healthy majority here and also beat the Conservatives in the 2019 general election.
If Labor has any ambition to win the next general election, this is the kind of area where it needs to demonstrate increased levels of support.
Winning two more seats and retaining the ones it currently holds would give Labor an overall majority for the first time in the council’s history.
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