Andrew Marr: 'Local elections matter - because politics is all about momentum'

2 May 2023, 18:16

Andrew Marr on Tuesday
Andrew Marr on Tuesday. Picture: LBC

By Kit Heren

The local elections this week matter because they can shift the momentum of British politics, Andrew Marr has said.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Speaking on LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr, the presenter said the elections on Thursday are "a big test" for both Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer.

The Conservatives have been 'managing expectations' with predictions of huge losses of councillors, which could make a smaller loss look like "a fantastic political victory," Andrew said.

Meanwhile the ratings of Sir Keir and Labour have been declining recently, with the leader's "hyper-cautious" strategy possibly making him look "boring" to voters, the presenter warned.

Andrew told listeners to look out for the Liberal Democrats, with his instinct telling him "they might be a big part of the story."

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak. Picture: Getty

Watch Tonight with Andrew Marr exclusively on Global Player every Monday to Thursday from 6pm to 7pm

"Folks, let me start with an apology," he said. "You've endured many months of people like me telling you what we think of Rishi Sunak, Keir Starmer, and the rest of them, day after day, week after week of Westminster wanging on.

"Well - at last - this week we will find out what you think - or many of you, anyway, those who are going to be voting in the local elections. Hard facts at last. I say at last because we've had a bizarre game of expectation management - Tories predicting they will lose a thousand councillors; it'll be a slaughter we're all doomed; doomed I tell you.

"So that, of course, if they don't lose 1,000 but maybe just - I dunno, 400 or 500 -they can claim it's been a fantastic political victory. And Labour has been doing more or less the same in reverse. If you want my tip I'd be looking quite closely at how the Liberal Democrats do this week - I have an instinct they might be a big part of the story.

Sir Keir Starmer
Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Getty

"But for everyone these elections matter, local or not, because politics is all about momentum. Everything’s always going up or down. For the Prime Minister, this is a big test: will Tory voters accept that the page has been turned on the Johnson and Truss age of Chaos and Rishi Sunak, despite the continuing cost of living crisis, can be given a fresh chance?

You can also listen to the podcast Tonight with Andrew Marr only on Global Player.

"We used to think that this would when Boris Johnson attempted a comeback after big Tory losses but that looks less likely - and anyway Saturday’s coronation will wipe embarrassment for the government off the front pages. But Keir Starmer’s seen his personal ratings fall recently and the lead Labour has over the Tories shrinking.

"Is his strategy of being hyper cautious making him look a little boring? Do voters applaud his bonfire of leftwing promises, most recently on tuition fees? To keep his side onside, to retain authority and belief, he needs to move forward impressively right across England. So there is jeopardy for all sides here. It really matters. 

"I mentioned Boris Johnson. today we also see the publication of the government report into the position of Sue Gray, the very senior civil servant who jumped ship - or tried to jump ship to run Keir Starmer’s office.

"Because she was so involved in the investigation which brought Johnson down, his supporters now suggest that the whole thing was a stitch up from the start. We are still waiting for the report which Labour regards as a blatant distraction from the cost of living crisis. 

"Finally, I mentioned the coronation. Do hang on till later in the show when you will hear a pretty forthright interview with Alex Salmond, the former Scottish First Minister who now runs his own party Alba".

"Ed Miliband has been campaigning all day against the huge new profits announced by BP - they made an extra four billion pounds in the last three months alone. The former :abour leader, now shadow secretary of state for climate change and net zero, spoke to me just before I came on air.

"I asked him about the view of some people who say that these profits are hard earned and shouldn't be taxed."