Liberal Democrats in the Local Elections 2024

In what will be the last major test of party popularity before the General Election, almost 2,600 councillors, London Assembly members, the Mayor of London and the 9 Combined Authority Mayors will be up for election on 2nd May.

The 2023 local elections were particularly good for Liberal Democrats as they rode the anti-Conservative wave to secure hundreds of seats, achieving greater gains than Labour in the South East and continuing their role as the rival to the Conservatives in rural shire councils.

The Liberal Democrat parliamentary party and local parties can however be very disparate, especially regarding housebuilding. The Liberal Democrats nationally committed to a housing target of 380,000 house completions per year at their 2023 conference, outstripping Labour and the Conservatives’ target of 300,000. This mindset is at odds with their local parties’ Nimbyism towards many new developments.

This will be the first set of local elections since the Liberal Democrat’s 380,000 homes commitment though whether it will have any effect on outcomes will be unlikely due to the large ‘Vote Anyone but the Tories’ sentiment in large parts of the country.

Here are a few key councils where the Liberal Democrats will be looking to win or gain seats on 2nd May.

West Oxfordshire

Since 2015, the Liberal Democrats have been slowly but surely securing rural Oxfordshire, turning this historically Conservative heartland into their own. West Oxfordshire will be a target. They currently have a coalition with Labour and the Greens but are 7 seats from an outright majority. The council elects in thirds so the Liberal Democrats may struggle to gain an outright majority this year but any progress will be seen as a success.


The Liberal Democrats have led a minority council since 2018 in Portsmouth and are four seats from an outright majority. They face 9 Independents, 8 Conservatives and 7 Labour members so winning just one or two seats from each group will be the aim.


The Liberal Democrats are the largest party in the council currently and need only two seats to win a majority. The party would likely be disappointed not to gain this council so we will expect to see this turn Liberal Democrat


The Conservatives currently hold a slim majority and, with the current national consensus, they will likely drop a number of seats. Liberal Democrats are 12 seats from a majority and the second largest party in the council currently. While reaching an outright majority will be very ambitious, Liberal Democrats leading a rainbow coalition is very much possible.

Wrapping Up

The local elections will be this Thursday 2nd May and we have covered our expectations for the three major local parties in previous articles.

According to expert analysis the Liberal Democrats will have good gains, gaining around 100 seats while Labour is expected to gain 200 to 250 seats and may potentially gain the West Midlands mayoral position from Andy Street. It will be no surprise that the Conservatives will struggle and are on course to lose more than 400 seats.

The Blackpool South by-election, happening on the same day, will also be seen as a lightning rod for Conservative support in the Red Wall seats and, with Labour polling to win, it may be seen as an omen.

How bad the night is could have serious ramifications on the timing of the General Election and Sunak may be forced to call an election to head off a coup as he has threatened!

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