What could the election results mean for Starmer, Johnson and Sturgeon?

Sir Keir Starmer, Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon

Voters will put pencil to paper in polling station booths across the country on Thursday, with thousands already having nailed their colours to the mast via postal votes.

So what could the local and devolved administration results mean for the Prime Minister, his Labour rival Sir Keir Starmer and First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon?

– Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson Credit: Paul Ellis/PA

A lot has happened since the Conservative Party leader convinced the public in 2019 to give him a healthy Commons majority at the general election.

Since then, he has delivered on his pledge to take Britain out of the European Union, faced criticism over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, overseen a successful vaccine rollout, fallen out with key aides such as Dominic Cummings and become embroiled in rows over lobbying and his Downing Street flat renovations.

Despite the recent difficulties playing out in the media for the Prime Minister however, his party still leads Labour by 11 points, according to the latest YouGov poll, with the Government enjoying a so-called “vaccine bounce”.

Should that bear out in the results, Mr Johnson will be hopeful of holding firm at council level and keeping the Tories as the main challengers to the SNP in Scotland, although voter surveys have them neck-and-neck with Labour for second place.

But it is unlikely, even after last week’s photo op with Shaun Bailey, that his party’s candidate will be able to follow his lead and win the London mayoral election, with Labour incumbent Sadiq Khan widely tipped for a second term.

– Sir Keir Starmer

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA

Labour’s Sir Keir is facing his first electoral test on Thursday since taking the leadership mantle from Jeremy Corbyn last year.

Opposition leaders have traditionally enjoyed local elections as a time when voters look to punish the government of the day, although a less than desirable polling position and a by-election in the so-called “red wall” seat of Hartlepool will mean a tense set of vote counts for the former director of public prosecutions.

Asked on a visit to Hull on Friday about whether Labour’s message was “cutting through” given the Tories had a double-digit lead in some polls, Sir Keir said the party would be “not just fighting for every vote, we know we’ve got to earn every vote”.

A win in Hartlepool – a town that has traditionally voted Labour – could ease fears over the party’s future prospects of securing power in Westminster, but a loss would likely spark further soul-searching for an outfit that has not been in government for more than a decade.

– Nicola Sturgeon

First Minister and leader of the SNP Nicola Sturgeon Credit: Jane Barlow/PA

The SNP leader has been clear that a majority victory in the Holyrood elections should come with the prize of a second independence referendum.

But with the main challengers to Scotland’s ruling party both under new management since the last election – with the Tories led by Douglas Ross MP and Labour being directed by Anas Sarwar north of the border – Ms Sturgeon’s bid for a majority could prove tight.

Polling expert Sir John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, told BBC Radio 4’s World At One on Friday: “The truth is support for independence, and indeed support for the SNP, have eased somewhat during the course of the campaign – it has dropped by about two or three points.

“As a result, what was looking like a 50-50 shot is now perhaps looking where the odds are against the SNP making it (to a majority), although they still have some chance – you can’t tell what’s going to happen in the crucial constituencies.

(PA Graphics) Credit: PA Graphics

“But insofar as 10 Downing Street have been implying at least that they think denying the SNP an overall majority is their principal goal in this election, maybe in the end they will indeed achieve it.”

If the SNP does miss out on a majority, meaning a possible setback to their independence aims, Ms Sturgeon could still record a personal victory over former first minister Alex Salmond – a recent thorn in her side over claims about what the First Minister knew in advance of her government’s botched handling of sexual harassment complaints against Mr Salmond.

Mr Salmond’s newly formed pro-independence Alba Party could poll just 3%, not enough to win a single seat in Holyrood, according to modelling by Sir John.