Ken Livingstone, the Labour candidate for London Mayor, will have to topple the incumbent, Boris Johnson, depicted here as an alien in Labour's ad campaign, for the party to be seen as winners in Thursday's local elections in Britain.
Ken Livingstone, the Labour candidate for London Mayor, will have to topple the incumbent, Boris Johnson, depicted here as an alien in Labour's ad campaign, for the party to be seen as winners in ThurShow more

No winners in UK 'Black Thursday' local elections?



LONDON // The Labour party looks poised to win hundreds of seats in local elections across Britain, yet could still end up being perceived as the polls' big loser.

Despite the fact that the party enjoys a double-digit lead in opinion polls after a dreadful few weeks for the ruling Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, the most high-profile contests do not look likely to go Labour's way.

London's Conservative party mayor, Boris Johnson, is the favourite to defy odds and hang on to his post after an ill-tempered, mudslinging campaign (much enjoyed by Londoners) with his main rival, Labour's Ken Livingstone.

And in Glasgow, Scotland's traditional Labour heartland, the Scottish National Party (SNP) hopes to wrest control of the council despite currently having only 20 seats to Labour's 39.

"It would indeed be ironic and rather sad if all the headlines are made by London and Glasgow at a time when we look set to sweep the board in many councils across the country," a Labour official said.

"We feel, in fact, that we will remain the biggest party in Glasgow, although whether or not we retain overall control is unclear. The last few days of campaigning will be crucial.

"As for London - well, it's a personality thing between Ken and Boris. Admittedly, at the moment, Boris seems to have the upper hand."

Opinion polls in London put the Mr Johnson six points ahead of Mr Livingstone, both of whom rank among the best known political personalities in Britain, where they are almost universally referred to by their first names.

The Conservatives' poll lead in London compares quite dramatically with an advantage of between 11-13 points that Labour currently enjoys over the Conservatives nationally. It is a lead that is expected to win Labour 600 or more seats, about 400 of them from the Conservatives.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats, whose popularity has tumbled since it went into coalition with the Conservatives after the general election two years ago, are bracing for a slew of losses on top of the hundreds they lost in council elections last year - up to 300, perhaps, of the 777 seats they are defending.

It is all adding up to a feeling of trepidation among the three major UK parties with the elections being dubbed by political pundits as "Black Thursday" for all concerned.

As a sideshow to the main event, 10 English cities will also be holding referenda on whether or not they should have an elected mayor, à la London and Liverpool. The city councils currently elect the mayor in those cities.

The main business of the day, though, will be contests for some 5,000 council seats in England, Scotland and Wales. David Cameron, the prime minister, has tried to put the emphasis on Conservative "competence" in running local authorities while Labour has stressed its role in protecting council jobs and services.

But, except in areas where there are pressing local issues or mayoral elections, most people will simply vote according to their feelings towards the parties performance in central government.

That could spell trouble for the Conservatives a month after a budget whose provisions have been seen as an attack on the elderly and after a string of gaffes over issues such as: the extradition to Jordan of the extremist preacher Abu Qatada; the mishandling of a threatened strike by fuel tanker drivers; and a much-criticised bid to limit tax-free donations to charities by wealthy philanthropists.

Labour, meanwhile, suffered an embarrassing electoral setback in a March by-election in a supposedly safe parliamentary seat in Bradford - won by maverick politician and one-time Saddam Hussein apologist, George Galloway - while its leader, Ed Miliband, commands little popular support.

Unless Labour can start picking up clumps of seats from the Conservatives on councils in the southern half of the country, its claim to be a government-in-waiting will not be credible.

Meanwhile Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader and deputy prime minister, can only cross his fingers and hope for the best after seeing support for his party slump by more than half since the general election, to 11 per cent or less now in opinion polls.

Even the buoyant SNP have had their problems with Allison Hunter, the party's leader in Glasgow, under attack from all sides after telling one interviewer that she had no policies to implement if the party succeeded in ousting Labour.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: BorrowMe (BorrowMe.com)

Date started: August 2021

Founder: Nour Sabri

Based: Dubai, UAE

Sector: E-commerce / Marketplace

Size: Two employees

Funding stage: Seed investment

Initial investment: $200,000

Investors: Amr Manaa (director, PwC Middle East)

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Dr Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

Director: Adam Wingard

Starring: Brian Tyree Henry, Rebecca Hall, Dan Stevens

Rating: 4/5

Company Profile

Company name: myZoi
Started: 2021
Founders: Syed Ali, Christian Buchholz, Shanawaz Rouf, Arsalan Siddiqui, Nabid Hassan
Based: UAE
Number of staff: 37
Investment: Initial undisclosed funding from SC Ventures; second round of funding totalling $14 million from a consortium of SBI, a Japanese VC firm, and SC Venture

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

The BIO:

He became the first Emirati to climb Mount Everest in 2011, from the south section in Nepal

He ascended Mount Everest the next year from the more treacherous north Tibetan side

By 2015, he had completed the Explorers Grand Slam

Last year, he conquered K2, the world’s second-highest mountain located on the Pakistan-Chinese border

He carries dried camel meat, dried dates and a wheat mixture for the final summit push

His new goal is to climb 14 peaks that are more than 8,000 metres above sea level

What is cystic fibrosis?
  • Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that affects the lungs, pancreas and other organs.
  • It causes the production of thick, sticky mucus that can clog the airways and lead to severe respiratory and digestive problems.
  • Patients with the condition are prone to lung infections and often suffer from chronic coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
  • Life expectancy for sufferers of cystic fibrosis is now around 50 years.

The Book of Collateral Damage

Sinan Antoon

(Yale University Press)

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

MEDIEVIL (1998)

Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5

The specs

Price, base: Dh228,000 / Dh232,000 (est)
Engine: 5.7-litre Hemi V8
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Power: 395hp @ 5,600rpm
Torque: 552Nm
Fuel economy, combined: 12.5L / 100km

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

The Africa Institute 101

Housed on the same site as the original Africa Hall, which first hosted an Arab-African Symposium in 1976, the newly renovated building will be home to a think tank and postgraduate studies hub (it will offer master’s and PhD programmes). The centre will focus on both the historical and contemporary links between Africa and the Gulf, and will serve as a meeting place for conferences, symposia, lectures, film screenings, plays, musical performances and more. In fact, today it is hosting a symposium – 5-plus-1: Rethinking Abstraction that will look at the six decades of Frank Bowling’s career, as well as those of his contemporaries that invested social, cultural and personal meaning into abstraction. 

Quick facts on cancer
  • Cancer is the second-leading cause of death worldwide, after cardiovascular diseases 
  • About one in five men and one in six women will develop cancer in their lifetime 
  • By 2040, global cancer cases are on track to reach 30 million 
  • 70 per cent of cancer deaths occur in low and middle-income countries 
  • This rate is expected to increase to 75 per cent by 2030 
  • At least one third of common cancers are preventable 
  • Genetic mutations play a role in 5 per cent to 10 per cent of cancers 
  • Up to 3.7 million lives could be saved annually by implementing the right health
    strategies 
  • The total annual economic cost of cancer is $1.16 trillion

 

The Specs

Lamborghini LM002
Engine: 5.2-litre V12
Power: 450hp at 6,800rpm
Torque: 500Nm at 4,500rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual
0-100kph: 9 seconds (approx)
Top speed: 210kph (approx)
Years built: 1986-93
Total vehicles built: 328
Value today: $300,000+

Profile

Company name: Jaib

Started: January 2018

Co-founders: Fouad Jeryes and Sinan Taifour

Based: Jordan

Sector: FinTech

Total transactions: over $800,000 since January, 2018

Investors in Jaib's mother company Alpha Apps: Aramex and 500 Startups

UAE jiu-jitsu squad

Men: Hamad Nawad and Khalid Al Balushi (56kg), Omar Al Fadhli and Saeed Al Mazroui (62kg), Taleb Al Kirbi and Humaid Al Kaabi (69kg), Mohammed Al Qubaisi and Saud Al Hammadi (70kg), Khalfan Belhol and Mohammad Haitham Radhi (85kg), Faisal Al Ketbi and Zayed Al Kaabi (94kg)

Women: Wadima Al Yafei and Mahra Al Hanaei (49kg), Bashayer Al Matrooshi and Hessa Al Shamsi (62kg)

PREMIER LEAGUE FIXTURES

Saturday (UAE kick-off times)

Watford v Leicester City (3.30pm)

Brighton v Arsenal (6pm)

West Ham v Wolves (8.30pm)

Bournemouth v Crystal Palace (10.45pm)

Sunday

Newcastle United v Sheffield United (5pm)

Aston Villa v Chelsea (7.15pm)

Everton v Liverpool (10pm)

Monday

Manchester City v Burnley (11pm)

MATCH INFO

Euro 2020 qualifier

Norway v Spain, Saturday, 10.45pm, UAE

Results

6.30pm: Mazrat Al Ruwayah – Group 2 (PA) $36,000 (Dirt) 1,600m, Winner: RB Money To Burn, Tadhg O’Shea (jockey), Eric Lemartinel (trainer)

7.05pm: Handicap (TB) $68,000 (Turf) 2,410m, Winner: Star Safari, William Buick, Charlie Appleby

7.40pm: Meydan Trophy – Conditions (TB) $50,000 (T) 1,900m, Winner: Secret Protector, William Buick, Charlie Appleby

8.15pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 - Group 2 (TB) $293,000 (D) 1,900m, Winner: Salute The Soldier, Adrie de Vries, Fawzi Nass

8.50pm: Al Rashidiya – Group 2 (TB) $163,000 (T) 1,800m, Winner: Zakouski, William Buick, Charlie Appleby

9.25pm: Handicap (TB) $65,000 (T) 1,000m, Winner: Motafaawit, Sam Hitchcock, Doug Watson

UAE PREMIERSHIP

Final: Dubai Hurricanes v Jebel Ali Dragons
Saturday, 8.15pm, Al Ain Amblers

Semi-final results
Dubai Exiles 20-26 Dubai Hurricanes
Dubai Tigers 32-43 Jebel Ali Dragons

Table
1 Dubai Tigers, 33 points
2 Dubai Exiles, 24 points
3 Dubai Hurricanes, 18 points
4 Jebel Ali Dragons, 14 points
5 Abu Dhabi Harlequins, 14 points


View from London

Your weekly update from the UK and Europe

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      View from London