Elections 2021: What makes this year's local and devolved polls so interesting?

By ITV News Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks

They might be the one of the biggest sets of local and devolved elections EVER held on a single day - but talk to people about local elections and the reaction can be a bit of a yawn. So here's a few reasons why these ones are particularly interesting. Scale There aren’t just elections to almost all English councils, Thursday will determine the make up of the Scottish parliament, the Welsh Senedd, and the London assembly, including it’s mayor.

12 other metro mayors will be elected and there’s even a crucial by election in Hartlepool. The fate of every significant British politician outside Westminster will be decided tomorrow.

Labour leader Keir Starmer and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan campaigning for the London Mayoral elections. Credit: PA

Position of the parties

This is the first time since the General Election in 2019 that voters have had a chance to have their say on how the main parties are doing.

The first time too that Boris Johnson has gone up against Keir Starmer. For the Labour leader - there’s much to prove. Can he start rebuilding in the red wall areas lost by Jeremy Corbyn? Or has Labour’s voter base changed in more permanent ways?

The first warning signs for Labour flashed in 2017 when Teesside and the West Midlands elected Tory mayors. If Ben Houchen and Andy Street get another term - and Labour loses councillors in the Midlands and North too - it would be a sign of a more permanent shift in once solid Labour areas.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves as he campaigns in Hartlepool. Credit: PA

Hartlepool will be watched even more closely. If the party loses its grip there, in a seat that has been Labour since it was formed, the questions for Starmer on Friday will not be easy. Even if, as is likely, the majority of the other metro mayors remain labour and Sadiq Khan is re-elected in London.

For Boris Johnson there are high stakes too. He has been trying to ride out the recent sleaze allegations by insisting voters care more about Covid than curtains. All the signs are that he will benefit from a vaccine bounce. He’s counting on that. Significance

The last time these English council seats were contested was either in 2016 when David Cameron was in power or 2017 under Theresa May. If the polls are correct and Labour makes gains in the South but loses more ground in the North it would suggest, even AFTER Brexit and after Corbyn, a more permanent realignment of the political map of this country is underway.

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