Local elections: Corbyn accuses Tories of killing kids with austerity

Jeremy Corbyn accused the Conservatives of killing chidren with 'heartless' austerity policies today as he ramped up the rhetoric for local elections.

The Labour leader said the government's policies had 'almost certainly' increased the death rate and infant mortality.

The intervention comes amid signs the anti-Semitism crisis that has been wracking the party could limit its gains in the English council polls.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell also risked a backlash today by suggesting Labour authorities could increase council tax - saying he believes voters are ready to pay more.

Senior Labour figures have been trying to play down expectations, having previously boasted they were on track to seize Tory strongholds in London like Westminster, Wandsworth and Barnet.

Mr Corbyn (pictured voting in Islington today) is hoping to seize long-term Conservative strongholds in London

Mr Corbyn (pictured voting in Islington today) is hoping to seize long-term Conservative strongholds in London

Elections are being held in English councils last fought over in 2014. Some 4,371 seats and 150 councils are at stake

Elections are being held in English councils last fought over in 2014. Some 4,371 seats and 150 councils are at stake

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell risked a backlash today by suggesting Labour authorities could increase council tax - saying he believes voters are ready to pay more (file picture)

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell risked a backlash today by suggesting Labour authorities could increase council tax - saying he believes voters are ready to pay more (file picture)

At one stage experts suggested the party could secure an extra 200 seats and the Conservatives would lose 75.

But Professor Stephen Fisher suggested yesterday that Labour could end up with 135 more, while the Tories could make a net gain of eight. 

Across England, more than 4,000 seats are being contested in around 150 councils - including all 32 London boroughs, as well as every ward in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle.

Mayoral elections are taking place in Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Watford and the Sheffield City region, but there are no polls in

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