KEITH Brown has today urged voters to “reject the chaos of the Tories”as the 100-day countdown starts until the local government elections.

May 5 will see voting take place across Scotland and Wales as well as across London, English metropolitan boroughs and some county councils. The Northern Ireland Assembly election will be held on the same day.

Campaigns for these contests will play out as Boris Johnson continues to fight for his political life amidst the partygate scandal. There are claims whips threatened to withhold funding from the constituencies of Tory MPs who don’t back the PM and there are now fresh allegations of Islamophobia at the top of the government from former Department for Transport minister Nusrat Ghani.

How much all this will affect the outcome of voting is a matter of marked speculation in political circles. In Scotland, the SNP deputy leader is flagging it as a chance to “reject the chaos of the Tories” and put their trust in his party. In Northern Ireland, it’s likely that the impact of Brexit will remain a key issue. Talks on the future of the Northern Ireland Protocol continue between the UK and EU today after a Brexit deal pushed through at the last minute in December 2020. And in London, the Westminster Labour Group smells opportunity.

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It’s recruiting for a “mobilisation assistant” to help it “make real gains” as it attempts to win the council for the first time in a race it expects to be “extremely close”. It’s planning to run on issues including social housing and protections for “those most in need”.

These are classic Labour policies, but as the cost of living crisis continues to bite ever harder into the public’s pockets, the Tories will only be able to counter them with credibility if they act to limit inflation and the hike in energy prices. The former hit 5.4% – a 30-year high – in December and could, some analysts believe, soon reach 7%. Meanwhile, the energy price cap is expected to rise 51%

in April, putting another £600-per-year on average bills. A 1.25% increase in National Insurance payments will also be enacted during this month, further reducing household spending power with just weeks to go until voting.

There are calls to the UK Government to take action on these issues and keep people out of poverty. But amidst the very public warring between MPs and the anticipation and rumour surrounding the Sue Gray report into partygate, ministers are distracted. If Johnson survives until May 5 and the Tories record poor results, it may be enough to jolt the shoogly peg his jaiket is currently hanging on out of the wall completely.

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In Scotland, there’s concern amongst the Tory ranks, with one unnamed Tory councillor telling PoliticsHome that Jacob Rees-Mogg, who branded Douglas Ross a “lightweight”, “risks creating a toxic atmosphere for our campaigners”. However, a more positive Andrew Bowie said voters will “disconnect the current issues” from those affecting council matters.

We’ve yet to see the launch of council campaign materials in Scotland but Brown’s comments suggest there’ll be none of that “disconnection” from his party. He said: “SNP candidates will be campaigning with a renewed sense of vigour as Scotland reels from the revelations of sleaze, corruption and intolerance at Westminster.

“As we work to build a better nation for us all, a vote for the SNP at this election is crucial to lock out the Tories out of power and to add to the successes already achieved by the SNP at both Holyrood and in council chambers across the country.”