Just six months into Rishi Sunak’s premiership, and over a year out from a general election, the staging of local elections in large parts of England this Thursday will act as a ‘check-in’ with the electorate.

Local Government elections don’t usually create much excitement; but, with a general election feeling like it’s around the corner, the results will interpreted as a foretelling of that.

The Conservatives are trying to manage expectations, briefing widely that they could lose up to a thousand seats. Labour want to demonstrate momentum in council areas in the north and north-east to show a clear return of voters in the so-called ‘red wall’ areas.

The impact of other parties will also be important; the Lib Dems are trying to use ‘wedge issues’ to create a revival in places like Devon and urban areas of southern England. The Greens, too, will want to capitalise on voter’s overall frustrations with the cost-of-living, the binary campaign styles of the main parties, and overall frustration with political performance. And Reform – the new incarnation of the Brexit Party - is hoping to cause damage to the Conservative right and become a thorn in the side of Tory MPs worrying about their majorities and traditional voters becoming increasingly fed up with high taxes.

The elections will also see voters go to the polls in Northern Ireland, where the Assembly is still mothballed and the shock of Sinn Fein topping the poll last time is causing a re-think about how politics in Northern Ireland is done. This is the first electoral test since the celebrations held on the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and the Windsor Framework was agreed.

These local government elections are also the first to see voter ID used; there are concerns that this could push turnout down yet further (it is never traditionally high), and campaigners have called for a review ahead of the next set of nationwide elections.

Behind the scenes, Labour is nervous that their extensive, and now long-running, poll lead is about to be tested. Some in government are feeling increasingly confident that, after a modest turn around in the polls, another Tory victory in the general election will be within their grasp. Insiders are even claiming that whilst briefing about heavy losses is the usual expectation management, results could be more favourable than perhaps even they expect.

Regardless of the results, the media narrative will quickly shift. Just two days later, the world will descend on London for the Coronation of The King, followed by a series of international summits that will highlight global issues from Ukraine to climate.