WELCOME to The Sun’s Election 2021 live blog, where you’ll find all the latest news, polling and updates on the largest local vote in decades.
Approximately 48 million people will be able to cast a vote for about 4,650 positions of power today – a much larger number than usual after much of the voting was delayed last year due to covid.
Polls close at 10pm this evening and a standard election would see votes counted overnight and declared the following day.
But this year some counts won’t take place until Friday or even Saturday this year with coronavirus measures expected to slow the process down.
Some polling centres are being used for vaccinations or can not facilitate social distancing.
With tens of millions placing their votes today, we’ll bring you everything you need to know to keep up to date.
Read our Local Elections 2021 live blog below for up to the minute updates…
Election officials in Oxford were forced to get creative when the person with the keys to their regular polling station overslept.
Toby Porter tweeted a picture of the makeshift ballot station they were forced to use for 15 minutes until they were able to open the doors.
Oxford City Council confirmed the keyholder had overslept but election officials are trained for these scenarios and everyone was able to vote as normal.
These are the latest odds from Paddy Power about who is set to win the Hartlepool by-election:
Conservatives – 1/14
Labour – 7/1
Sam Lee (Independent) – 100/1
Thelma Walker – 100/1
Reform UK – 100/1
Liberal Democrats – 100/1
SDP – 500/1
North East Party – 500/1
Heritage – 500/1
Monster Raving Loony Party – 500/1
WHAT IS HAPPENING IN WALES?
Labour has been in government in Wales since the devolved administration was established in 1999.
And while recent polls project the party to slump to its worst ever result – it could just cling onto power.
First Minister Mark Drakeford’s profile has ballooned during the pandemic thanks to routine press briefings and interviews.
Polling puts his party on 32 per cent in the constituency vote, just edging out the Tories on 30 per cent in a race that looks set to go down to the wire.
The Welsh Tories were recently forced to elect a new leader after their previous boss resigned for breaking Covid rules.
WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVEN’T RETURNED MY POSTAL VOTE?
Don’t worry – you can still vote.
Your ballot needs to be in the boxes by 10pm this evening but you – or someone you trust – can still hand in the ballot in person at your local polling station.
It still needs to be completed in secret and sealed but there is more information on how to fill it out on the Electoral Commission’s website.
WHO IS THE LIBERAL DEMOCRAT CANDIDATE FOR LONDON MAYOR?
Luisa Porritt is a 33-year-old councillor in Camden who previously served as a Liberal Democrat MEP between 2019 and 2020.
She says her main priorities are “Jobs. Homes. Clean Air”
If elected she would be the youngest mayor in history but she is trailing behind Sadiq Khan and Shaun Bailey in the polls.
She is currently vying with the Green’s Sian Berry for third place.
HOW TO VOTE FOR A POLICE AND CRIME COMMISSIONER
Today is also the elections for Police and Crime Commissioners.
The PPC elections cover police forces in England and Wales, but do not include the Metropolitan Police, Greater Manchester Police, West Yorkshire Police or the City of London Police.
You can find out who is standing to be PCC at choosemypcc.org.uk.
All you need to do is add your postcode and it will give you a list of candidates.
Each candidate will have an election statement, which will help in your decision.
DO I HAVE TO BRING MY OWN PENCIL TO POLLING STATION?
Voters will be encouraged to bring their own pens or pencils to mark their ballot papers if possible.
However, those who cannot do so will have access to regularly sanitised or single use pencils.
Officials said that people are always welcome to bring their own pen or pencil to the polls, but have recommended it this year to try and make it safer.
WHAT ARE SHAUN BAILEY’S POLICIES?
The Conservative candidate mayoral pledges include:
- an increase the size of the Metropolitan Police to 40,000 officers and the introduction of new ‘stop and scan’ technology that will use thermal imaging in knife crime hotspots.
- a reverse in the increase in the Congestion Charge to £15, and stopping the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone.
- a taxpayer-owned housebuilding organisation controlled by the Mayor and funding 100,000 shared ownership homes to be sold for £100k.
- a London Infrastructure Bank to fund Crossrail 2 and other infrastructure including Hammersmith Bridge and Tube upgrades.
- to recruit 4,000 new youth workers and open 32 new youth centres, one for every London borough.
IS VOTING IN PERSON SAFE?
The Government has introduced measures to make in-person voting safe.
Voters are encouraged to avoid peak times – between 7.30am and 9.30am and between 5pm and 8pm – if possible.
People who are going to be away from home or unable to make it to a polling station because of work can apply for a proxy vote – the deadline to apply was 5pm on Tuesday, April 27.
However in February 2021, the Government introduced the emergency proxy application form which allows those forced to self-isolate on the day of the election to ask someone to vote for them.
A form needs to be filled in before 5pm today – May 6, 2021.
KEIR TO CARRY ON
Sir Keir Starmer has vowed to “carry the can” if Labour performs poorly in today’s elections – but will not resign.
Thousands of votes taking place across the country bring his first test at the ballot box since being elected party leader last year.
Asked by reporters how he was feeling as he left his local polling station in North London this morning, he replied: “Good”.
However recent polls put Labour on course to flop in several crucial battlegrounds in the party’s former working-class heartlands.
WHAT ARE THE COVID-19 RULES FOR VOTING?
Voters and staff at polling stations are expected to follow the same rules that the general public has been following when visiting indoor spaces.
They include wearing a face covering unless exempt and maintain social distancing.
If there are physical barriers between poll workers and voters, then staff behind the screen will not be required to wear a face covering, according to the Government’s official guidance.
Hand sanitiser will be available at polling stations and distance markings and protective barriers will be used where needed.
WHO IS STANDING FOR ELECTION IN MY AREA?
Thousands of candidates will be running for various post in the May 2021 elections.
To find out who is standing in your area, you can put your postcode into this website.
It will tell you if there are elections in your area – including the PCC ones – and it will provide a list of the candidates and the party they represent.
The Electoral Commission website tells you which council ward you live in and provides a list of all the people standing for election and which party they represent.
WHAT ARE SADIQ KHAN’S POLICIES?
Labour’s candidate for the mayoral office is focusing on what he sees as five key areas based around the slogan “building a brighter future”.
- Jobs – “supporting businesses and banging the drum for investment”
- Green policies – “tackling toxic air pollution and the climate emergency”
- Housing crisis – “record numbers of council homes and rent controls”
- Getting tough on crime and its causes – “more police officers and opportunities for young Londoners
- Rejecting government cuts – “to TfL, the Met Police and local councils”
He has pledged to create a £32m Good Work Fund to create new jobs and skill centres for Londoners as part of a £544m package to help support those living in the city affected by Covid-19.
EXPLAINED – WHAT DO THE SCOTTISH ELECTIONS MEAN FOR INDEPENDENCE?
Nicola Sturgeon has been calling for a second referendum on Scottish independence since the Brexit vote as she said the Remain-voting country was being taken out of the EU against its will.
The SNP manifesto includes a promise to hold a second referendum.
The Scottish parliament does not operate on a first past the post system like in Westminster so it is hard for one party to get a majority.
But the SNP if all the independence supporting parties win a majority in the election that would give them a mandate for another referendum.
The main parties which support independence are the SNP, the Scottish Greens and Alex Salmond’s new Alba party.
NOT NOW NIC
WHY IS THERE A BY-ELECTION IN HARTLEPOOL?
The by-election comes after Mike Hill, who was suspended by the party in 2019 over claims he harassed a woman, stepped down from the Commons.
Mr Hill denies the allegations, which will be heard at a tribunal in May this year.
The decision has sparked a by-election battle in the Northern seat, and will be a key test for whether Labour can hold on to the spot.
Sir Keir Starmer has been struggling in the polls to get ahead, as the PM experiences a huge poll bounce over the rollout of the vaccine.
The Tory candidate missed out by just over 3,000 votes in the 2019 poll, but the vote was split heavily by the Brexit Party who raked in thousands of votes too.
POLLS TIGHTEN FOR SADIQ KHAN
Londoners are picking their next mayor and assembly members today.
Although all signs show Sadiq Khan is likely to retain the keys to City Hall it is now looking less likely than before.
According to YouGov data published yesterday, Khan is now only 12 points above his main rival – Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey – which is down nine points from a month ago.
WHY IS THIS ELECTION BEING CALLED ‘SUPER THURSDAY’?
Typically elections for local councils operate on a cycle which means a third of the country goes to the polls each year with everyone elected for a four-year term.
But due to coronavirus last years elections were postponed which means there are more seats up for grabs than usual.
In several major cities such as London and Manchester there are elections for their metro mayors.
Some local authorities in London such as Newham and Tower Hamlets are also holding referendums on whether they should have directly elected mayors at all.
In Scotland and Wales there are also elections to pick the members of their devolved parliaments.
Finally in Hartlepool there is a by-election to replace former MP Mike Hill who resigned in March.
WHERE ARE THE MAYORAL RACES?
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon heads out to vote in Glasgow
ALL THE CANDIDATES IN THE LONDON MAYORAL ELECTION
Shaun Bailey – Conservative
Kam Balayev – Renew
Sian Berry – Green
Count Binface – Count Binface for Mayor of London
Valerie Brown – The Burning Pink Party
Piers Corbyn – Let London Live
Max Fosh – Independent
Laurence Fox – The Reclaim Party
Peter Gammons – Ukip
Richard Hewison – Rejoin EU
Vanessa Hudson – Animal Welfare Party – People, Animals, Environment
Steven Kelleher – Social Democratic Party
Sadiq Khan – Labour
David Kurten – Heritage Party
Farah London – Independent
Nims Obunge – Independent
Niko Omilana – Independent
Luisa Porritt – Liberal Democrats
Mandu Reid – Women’s Equality Party
Brian Rose – London Real Party
ARE DOGS ALLOWED AT POLLING STATIONS?
Yes. Polling stations are pooch-friendly so your canine companion is free to join you – although they sadly can’t vote.
All dogs are welcome provided they can be kept under control and not cause disruption.
Your political pooch can come into the polling station but you must keep it under control.
You can even bring a horse – but it must be tied up outside.