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Pre-election scenario planning for councillors

If there is a possibility of a change in leadership, there is a lot that the political group leaders can do in the pre-election period to prepare for this outcome.

Political leadership case studies banner image

The council leaders we spoke to offered the following advice:

Make your manifesto realistic: when writing your manifesto or plan for change, make sure it is realistic in terms of what you could actually achieve. If your party finds itself becoming part of the new administration, you will want its promises to be viable.

Scenario planning: consider the possible outcomes of the election. If no overall control is a possibility for your council, consider the different scenarios for your party. Do not assume that the most likely scenario is inevitable. Plan for the unexpected.

Look at common ground: review the manifestos of other political groups to see potential areas of agreement and the key issues of contention, so you are prepared for any negotiations.

Check your party rules: there may be national rules governing how you can and cannot work in different situations, for example, no overall control or coalition.

Brief your councillors: explore what no overall control could mean in practice in your council and get a sense of how your councillors would feel about working with other political parties. Prepare your negotiating team and ensure that councillors are ready to begin discussions as soon as the election results are known.

Get to grips with the issues: if there is any chance that you could become leader or deputy leader of the council, spend some time before the election getting to grips with the key issues. Talk to the chief executive and chief officers. Encourage key councillors in your party, who may find themselves in cabinet or lead councillor roles, to get up to speed with the relevant issues.

Consider talking to the other parties: you may choose to begin talking to other group leaders or councillors to pave the way for any formal discussions that might take place after the election. You may even decide to go further than that and begin detailed planning for a joint administration now. Remember that the leadership of political groups can change following an election.

Ask other leaders for advice: the case studies provided give examples of how some councils have tackled changes in leadership. Talk to these or other council leaders who have experienced or are experiencing this shift.