For millions of people across the country, this Thursday will be our first election since 2019. It may sound like a cliché, but going out to vote is the most important and impactful thing you can do with your day.
Due to the postponement of last year’s elections around 48 million people will be able to vote, making it the largest local election day since 1973.
In England, 143 councils will go to the polls, as well as elections for 39 police and crime commissioners, 13 elected mayors and one Member of Parliament in Hartlepool.
In Scotland, voters will be able to vote for the 129 MSPs that make up the Scottish Parliament, while in Wales voters will elect the 60 MSs of the Senedd Cymru.
Local elections may not have the drama or receive the attention of general elections, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less important.
The last year more than ever has demonstrated the power of local governments, mayors and national parliaments. Those powers will be equally important as we move from the pandemic into the recovery.
Local government spending accounts for about 27% of all national spending, meaning that how a lot of your money is spent will be decided on Thursday.
Devolved administrations in Wales and Scotland, as well as elected mayors like in Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region, have their own budgets and spending powers which every candidate will have different priorities for.
Councillors have a lot of sway over the decisions made in our local areas and may have a crucial say over what kind of developments and changes happen near you.
The elections for the Scottish Parliament and Senedd Cymru are the most pivotal since the establishment of the bodies, with future constitutional questions and devolved powers being shaped by the outcomes.
Even if you live in a safe seat where the council candidates may seem like a given, it’s still important for you to make your opinion known. Surprise results are much more common in local elections, where contests can be highly regionalised and issue based, and the share of votes will have implications for national politics even if your candidate doesn’t win.
Local councillors may not have the high profile that MPs do, but they are the backbones to our communities affecting all of our lives on a daily basis, and directly helping those who need it most. You also never know who the person you’re voting for may go on to become. Three living former Prime Ministers – Tony Blair, Theresa May and John Major – all stood in local council elections. If you really like your local candidate, you could be putting them on the first step to the highest office.
There’s truly no other way that you can make such a huge difference just by walking down the road and into your nearest polling station.
To have a say in the future direction in your country, to shape who will be your local voice speaking up for you on your district, town or parish Council, or even if you just fancy getting out of the house for a bit! I’d say to everyone who is able to, to get out and vote this Thursday.
I’ll be getting out and will be proudly voting for Labour this Thursday – for my dad in the local elections, and for our first ever woman Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin. For more information take a look at who your local Labour candidates are here: https://iwillvote.org.uk/
For more information on the upcoming elections, click here.