Hello - I'm back. Worryingly, readership figures appear unaffected by my absence.
Due to boundary changes, in 2004, all 120 seats in Birmingham were contested which resulted in the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition taking over from a Labour administration that had been in charge for 20 years. On May 3rd elections will take place in each of the city's 40 wards. Brummietory has a more detailed understanding of the political landscape than me and his predictions are a reasonable stab showing little movement from May 2006, but electoral progress due to 2004 being the base year. Here's a table showing Labour's decline and the rise of the Conservatives and the Lib Dems.
Given that just a third of the seats are being contested, it is always unlikely that you will see seismic shifts in the political composition of the council in May, but Labour are likely to lose seats at the expense of the Tories. In a bit of a cop-out, my predictions on how the Tories will do are based around national polling. Emboldened are seats that would be gains.
8 Safe Seats - Sutton (X4), Edgbaston, Harborne, Bartley Green & Bournville
36% - Add Brandwood, Billesley, Weoley Castle & Northfield
38% - Erdington, Longbridge & Kings Norton
40% - Quinton
42% - Oscott
46% - Tyburn
I'm going to predict that the Tories will poll 41% nationally. I make Oscott a 50/50 chance and Quinton a 70/30 chance. Even if we don't win those two, 15 seats should make us the biggest party in Birmingham which will be worth celebrating.
1. Tories to win 16 seats or more
2. Tories to win in popular vote (this didn't happen in May 2006 council elections in Brum despite a good set of results)
3. Labour to fail to win a single ward in the Labour held Parliamentary constituencies of Edgbaston (four Tories), Selly Oak (three Tories and one Lib Dem) , Hall Green (we're relying on Respect and Lib Dems here) and Northfield (four Tories).
Labour's Worst Case Scenario
Just for fun, but here's how Labour end up with just seven seats from the forty on offer.
The Tories have eight safe seats in the bag (see above).
The Libs will win the four Yardley seats, Hall Green, Perry Barr and Selly Oak
Running Total - Labour down to 25 seats
lose four Con/Labour marginals up to and including Northfield
lose to Respect in Sparkbrook
lose to Lib Dems in Bordesley Green, Moseley
Running Total - Labour down to 18 seats
lose a further five Con/Labour marginals up to and including Oscott
lose to Lib Dems in Hodge Hill, Aston, Springfield
Running Total - Labour down to 10 seats
lose to Nationalists in Shard End
lose to Conservatives in Tyburn & Handsworth Wood (due to split Labour vote)
7 seats - BINGO
It's fairly likely that Labour will lose about a third of the seats they hold this time and the same can be predicted for 2008, meaning they will soon be contesting second place with the Lib Dems. People have long memories in politics and so after the electoral fraud and Labour's craven response that marred the 2004 local elections, no coalition in Birmingham involving Labour is conceivable for a generation. If you're a Labour activist in Birmingham, I recommend 2020 vision - it's the soonest you'll be having another sniff of power.