The results to look for are Bury (expected at midnight) which is currently under no overall control, if the Tories can go from having a plurality of the seats to a majority it will suggest that the Cameron effect is spreading beyond London. North Tyneside (another one at midnight) is very possibly the win the Conservatives want most as it would show that they have friends in the north. Coventry (not expected to declare until 3am) could slightly sour Cameron’s night. Losing one seat would see the Tories lose control and provide whichever poor Labour Minister is sent on the Today Programme with a much-needed talking point. Other top Tory targets are Worcester and Redditch (we should know the result in both by midnight); losing the home of Worcester woman and the Home Secretary’s home patch would send shivers down Labour spines.
For comparison’s sake here are the national vote share equivalent from the last three sets of local elections:
Lib Dems 27%
Lib Dems 25%
Lib Dems 26%
The Conservatives will be keen to get comfortably into the forties, 42 percent would be OK for them but if they make it to 44 percent then they really would be in clover. Brown will be desperate for Labour not to fall below 26 percent. If they do, the comparisons with Blair will be incredibly unflattering. Nick Clegg will just be eager to push Labour into third to put a stop to the various mutterings about whether or not the Lib Dems are doing well enough under his leadership.
You'll, obviously, be able to follow all of tonight's events on Coffee House.