Expecting damage: Cameron on defensive for local elections

Election time once again
Election time once again
Alex Stevenson By

David Cameron will insist the Conservatives are focused on "the horizon, not the headlines" in his speech kicking off the Tories' local government elections campaign later.

The 2012 battle sees the Conservatives on the defensive across much of England as Labour looks to make further inroads, after failing to prevent the total number of councils under Tory control from dropping in 2011.

Mr Cameron, whose party was attacked by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg for a "blunderbuss" approach to legislation earlier this week, is expected to offer a robust response.

"We may take our hits but always remember this: we are making the hard, long-term decisions that are vital to the future of Britain," he will tell a gathering of Welsh activists.

"We are doing our duty by our country and that has always been the Conservative way."

The prime minister will tell activists that its party works in the "national interest" rather than in the "party interest".

"You can hear all those whispering voices saying 'play it safe if you want to win a majority' and 'don't rub too many people up the wrong way' – and say 'No: that is not us'," he will add.

"This is a government that's looking at the horizon, not the headlines; that cares about working for the long-term good, not short-term publicity."

Last year the Tories made a net gain of four councils, in an unexpectedly strong performance for the party which controls the bulk of local government in England.

Labour is poised to make substantial gains across much of England, with a lead in most polls of around ten per cent.

That would translate to a Conservative-to-Labour swing of 14%, according to Andy Sawford of the Local Government Information Unit.

"In terms of seat numbers, Labour should expect to pick up 300 seats, repeating last year's performance and cancelling out their losses of four years ago," Mr Sawford wrote.

"Last year the Conservative losses to Labour were offset by gains from the Lib Dems.

"In what many saw as a good result for the governing party pushing through austerity measures, they managed to make small net gains and win control of some councils. This year their best hopes are again in contests with the Liberal Democrats."


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