Tories and Labour looking for hope on road to Downing Street

David Cameron
David Cameron
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Many within the upper echelons of the Conservatives and Labour are already resigned to the fact that the UK Independence Party will be at the centre of attention in the wake of this week’s elections.

Both know that any gains they make in the local elections are likely to be overshadowed, either by a breakthrough at town hall level by Ukip as votes are counted on Friday or Sunday’s European election results when Nigel Farage’s party is expected to win.

So for Labour and the Conservatives, the focus is on securing second place in the European poll and key victories at a local level.

And with Yorkshire home to key marginal Westminster seats, both sides will want to see evidence that they are winning support in the areas they need to propel them into Downing Street in less than 12 months time.

Those Westminster seats include Colne Valley and Dewsbury, both in the Kirlees Council district and which both swung from Labour to the Conservatives in 2010.

The council is currently run by a minority Labour administration.

Conservative group leader Robert Light said: “I think it is going quite positively. I think people are recognising the work we have done local and the plan we launched for better local democracy has been well received. People feel we have got ideas to sort the mess out that our opponents haven’t got.

“We have seen some positive national economic news over the last few weeks and while people want to see more ‘beef’ as such they recognise it is happening and while we are always on a delayed fuse in economic terms in Yorkshire compared to the natiobnal recovery I think people can see those positive steps.”

Of the 13 councils in the region holding elections tomorrow , Bradford is the closest to changing hands.

Currently run by a Labour minority administration, a gain of just two seats would be enough to give the party majority control.

That would be a welcome boost for Labour a year out from a General Election in a district where it hopes to win Bradford East, Bradford West and Keighley to form a majority at Westminster.

Labour council leader David Green said: “As ever with Bradford elections there are going to be the odd unexpected result but this is Bradford, there always is.

“The information we are getting back from our canvassing and public meetings is there is a recognition of the progress that has been made in Bradford over the last four years.

“There is also a recognition that the Labour Party has been delivering whilst a lot of other people have been coming up with hot air and broken promises.

“Clearly, the link in with the European election - this isn’t just true of Bradford it’s true up and down the country - that brings a different dynamic into it.

“We are fighting to make sure that we get a majority when votes are counted on Friday, I think we have record to be proud of and I think people are recognising what we have done. We are quietly confident about the outcome.”

Labour and Conservative will also want to see signs that they will not have to spend significant amounts of valuable time and limited budgets in areas they have previously considered safe territory.

Ukip is fielding large numbers of local election candidates in South Yorkshire and Labour will want reassurance from this week’s results that safe seats are not about to become contested again while the Conservatives will be keeping an eye on Ukip’s performance in Harrogate where it controls the council.

Both will also be hoping to see the Lib Dems low national poll rating reflected in further loss of seats, debunking the party’s reputation for being hard to defeat once elected.