Andrew Grice's Election Guide

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Indy Politics

LABOUR

LABOUR

Battleground

Defending 2,750 council seats; currently has 29 members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

Dream scenario

Advance of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) splits the Conservative vote in the European Parliament elections and puts the spotlight on Michael Howard, relieving the pressure on Tony Blair; all-postal ballots boost turnout and Labour vote in council and Euro polls; Ken Livingstone London Mayor.

Nightmare scenario

Mr Livingstone defeated in London, putting a new question mark over Mr Blair's future; Liberal Democrats invade Labour-run cities; Tories not harmed by UKIP as much as opinion polls have suggested.

UNITED KINGDOM INDEPENDENCE PARTY (UKIP)

Battleground

Currently holds three seats in European Parliament.

Dream scenario

Wins 16 seats in European Parliament and inflicts humiliating setback on the Conservative Party; lands first seats on London Assembly; surprises critics who claim it is a "one-issue party" by winning strong support in council elections too.

Nightmare scenario

The strong, high-profile campaign proves an illusion and the opinion polls to have overstated the party's support. Much smaller advance than expected despite dominating the European election battle.

RESPECT

Battleground

The coalition of activists who opposed Iraq war, Muslim and hard left groups, including the Socialist Workers' Party is newly formed.

Dream scenario George Galloway, the Independent MP for Glasgow Kelvin, expelled by Labour over the Iraq war, wins a European Parliament seat in London; Blair gets a bloody nose over Iraq and is forced to stand down.

Nightmare scenario

Wins no seats in European Parliament or local authorities; Blair survives to fight general election.

TORIES

Battleground

Defending 1,400 council seats; now have 36 MEPs.

Dream scenario

Hold their position in the European Parliament and push up the 36 per cent share of the vote they won in 1999 Euro elections; re-establish party in northern cities from where it was once strong but has almost disappeared; win power in areas such as Birmingham and Trafford; Steve Norris wins in London Mayoral election.

Nightmare scenario

Advance of UKIP spoils Michael Howard's first ballot box test as leader. Fall back in Europe and fail to make a breakthrough in town hall polls, putting question mark over ability to present serious threat to Labour at general election expected next May.

GREEN PARTY

Battleground

Holds 53 council seats; two MEPs.

Dream scenario

Becomes the main beneficiary of the anti-war vote and gains four more MEPs, reviving memories of its best-ever performance at 1989 European elections (15% of the vote), which forced the main parties to take the environment more seriously; gains an extra 10 council seats and seven members of the London Assembly; wins big increase in the party's national share of the vote.

Nightmare scenario

Could lose at least one of its three seats on the London Assembly.

SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY

Battleground

Holds two seats in European Parliament but number of seats in Scotland will fall from eight to seven; no council elections in Scotland this year.

Dream scenario

To top the Euro elections poll by winning the biggest share of the vote of any party.

Nightmare scenario

To lose one of their two Euro seats, which could provoke leadership crisis and a formal challenge to John Swinney after disappointment in last year's elections to the Scottish Parliament.

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

Battleground

Defending 1,100 council seats; now have 10 MEPs.

Dream scenario

Significant advances in Labour's northern heartlands to win power in Newcastle and Sheffield; Simon Hughes defies the opinion polls to come second in first ballot in London mayoral election then beats Ken Livingstone in run-off with benefit of second-preference votes.

Nightmare scenario

Rise of UKIP pushes Charles Kennedy's party into fourth place in share of the votes cast in European elections; no advance in Labour town hall territory; lose ground to revived Conservative Party in shire districts; Simon Hughes comes poor third in London mayoral battle.

BRITISH NATIONAL PARTY (BNP)

Battleground

Holds fewer than 20 council seats.

Dream scenario

Its leader Nick Griffin wins a European Parliament seat in North West; party wins first seat on London Assembly; further advances in local authorities in Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

Nightmare scenario

No seat in the European Parliament and loses some council seats. The rise of UKIP, which has already overshadowed its campaign, blunts its recent progress at the ballot box.

PLAID CYMRU

Battleground

Left-of-centre Welsh Nationalist party defending best-ever showing in 1999 Euro and local elections. Currently has 200 councillors and two MEPs.

Dream scenario

Gain 50 council seats and retain two councils won from Labour in 1999, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Caerphilly. Retain two MEPs.

Nightmare scenario

Lose Rhondda Cynon Taf and Caerphilly and make no other gains.

Lose one MEP because Wales will now have fourinstead of five.

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