The received Westminster wisdom is that the local elections are do-or-die for Boris Johnson.
After months of awful headlines about partygate, and with the mood among Tory MPs once again turning fractious, a bad night for the Conservatives next Thursday may well be the trigger for a move to unseat the prime minister.
What is less discussed, however, is how the elections are also a key test for Keir Starmer and whether he has what it takes to lead Labour to victory at the general election in two years’ time.
With a new poll yesterday giving Labour a nine-point lead over the Conservatives, expectations are high that the party is set to make sweeping gains on Thursday.
But Starmer’s internal detractors are looking for any signs that the party is stalling to confirm their suspicions that he is failing to seal the deal with voters.
Here, HuffPost UK assesses where the main parties are ahead of a crucial night on May 5.
The State Of The Parties
A total of 6,812 council seats in England, Wales and Scotland are up for grabs on Thursday.
In addition, there are also mayoral elections in South Yorkshire, Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Watford and Croydon, as well as the Northern Ireland Assembly election.
In England, the Tories are defending 1,404 seats, Labour 2,222 and the Lib Dems 517. The rest are held by independents.
In Wales, Labour hold 462 council seats, with Plaid Cymru on 208, the Conservatives on 197 and the Lib Dems on 59. More than 300 seats are held by independents.
And in Scotland, the SNP have 432 seats, with the Tories second on 277, Labour on 262 and the Lib Dems on 67. Nearly 200 of Scottish councillors are independents.
What’s At Stake?
An awful lot more than which parties will be responsible for your bin collections for the next four years.
With a general election expected in 2024, this is likely to be the last big electoral test that Labour and the Tories will face before then.
As such, it will act as an important barometer of the national mood and indicate which parties, if any, are starting to…