Labour aiming for Clegg powerbase
Nick Clegg's political powerbase of Sheffield is among the prizes being eyed up by Labour as it seeks a resurgence in local elections on May 5.
Hundreds of seats are expected to change hands - mainly to Labour's advantage - when voters choose councillors in 279 authorities in most parts of England outside of London.
When the same set of elected positions were last contested, in May 2007, the then governing party was at a very low ebb, trailing the Tories by 13 percentage points in a BBC survey.
David Cameron's party gained more than 900 seats as Labour lost more than 500.
A reduction in the number of councils and seats means Labour probably needs nearer 400 gains to reverse those losses - taking it close to the 7.3% Conservative 2010 General Election margin.
If it pushed the seats advance to 1,000 this would indicate a lead for the party.
But if the sweeping spending cuts generated enough Government unpopularity to take the gains total to 2,000, Labour could be ahead by about 20%.
That would be in line with its last 1995 peak in the dying years of John Major's Tory government.
The one crumb of comfort for ministers in that nightmare scenario would be that in 123 of the 279 councils involved - including the 36 metropolitan authorities covering the big conurbations - only a third of the seats are at stake. And many of the councils where all the seats are up for election are in rural or small town areas where Labour is traditionally weak.
In more than 70 full council contests the two main contending parties are Tories and Lib Dems. In some others the main challenge comes from independents.
Much will depend on the size of the widely forecast Lib Dem seats slump. There are suggestions that it could top 1,000 losses - more than half the seats they are defending.
This may be an exaggeration. In council by-elections since the General Election they have just held their own, offsetting losses to Labour with gains from Tory coalition partners.
If Labour is ahead nationwide it would have hopes of taking Sheffield - where Mr Clegg has his Commons seat - from no overall control and nearby Chesterfield - where it made a surprise General Election gain - from Liberal Democrats.
Metro targets for Labour include Bolton, Leeds and Oldham.
It would also have hopes of capturing Thurrock among the unitary authorities and Ipswich in the non-metropolitan districts.
Tory losses could include Walsall, one of their few metros, and Gedling, in a Labour marginal constituency they failed to win in the General Election.
Other vulnerable Conservative districts include High Peak, Maidstone, Mid Suffolk, Rossendale and Stroud.
They also face losing North Devon to the Lib Dems but might in turn take Lewes from their coalition Government partners.
Among the unitaries Tories may gain Bath and North East Somerset from no overall control.
But Lib Dems might also have hopes of that council, in addition to Mendip, Mid Sussex and Taunton Deane.
The Microsoft mogul told fans a few home truths during his Reddit AMA
First full-length look is finally here
- 1 Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
Boris Johnson claims porn-obsessed Islamic jihadists are 'literally w*****s'
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Teenager brandishing fake gun taken down by police after demanding airtime on Netherlands' NOS TV station
Ball pool for adults opens in London
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£12500 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest independent Reprogr...
£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a well established websit...
£120 - £145 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: French & German Teacher X2 Materni...
£25000 - £32500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in SW London, this compan...