The Conservative strongholds of Wandsworth and Barnet stand a strong chance of switching from Tory to Labour in today’s (May 5) mega-round of local elections, a Conservative peer and elections expert has told MyLondon. Tory Lord and respected election expert Lord Robert Hayward said on the eve of polling day the two boroughs have a higher chance of switching from Tory to Labour than Westminster, or than Labour-run Croydon going blue.
In Wandsworth, Labour got a higher proportion of the vote than the Conservatives four years ago, or as Lord Hayward puts it: “They got all the right votes in the wrong places. With a more favourable wind, they’re more likely to succeed. Labour feel they should have taken it several times.”
Lord Hayward said that in Barnet, Wandsworth and Westminster, boundary changes slightly favour Labour. In Croydon, Lord Hayward said he would be “surprised” if Labour lost either the council or the mayoralty: “I know there’s been problems but it would require quite a big shift for them,” the elections analyst told MyLondon. And in the North London borough of Barnet, he added that while Labour “should have taken it last time”: “It’s too simplistic to say it was because of Jeremy Corbyn and antisemitism allegations.” Barnet is home to around a quarter of the UK’s Jewish population.
READ MORE: Local elections: Everything you need to know in London including key boroughs to watch
(Image: PA Graphics/Press Association Images)
The former MP also pointed to the prospect of the Green Party picking up seats in Labour-dominated London borough like Newham and Tower Hamlets, as well as Haringey and Hackney. And in the south west London borough of Sutton, which the Lib Dems have held since 1986, the voting expert expected losses to the Conservatives: “Previously they held both parliamentary seats in the borough, now they have neither.”
He laughed off claims that the Conservatives could lose up to 800 seats as “expectations management writ large,” adding: “The Conservatives are only defending 1800 or so seats across the whole of England and Wales. You’d be talking about the Conservatives losing every other seat. And Labour are saying they might only gain a few seats. I’ve never known a level of expectation management to be so far apart for the two parties.”
Robert Hayward predicts the Conservatives will lose 250-350 seats across England and Wales: “If I’ve made an error, it’s possibly on the low side.”
How each political party made its last pitch for votes
On the last day full day of campaigning, a Conservative spokesperson said: “Your choice is clear. Conservative councils who deliver better local services and the lowest council tax or Labour and the Lib Dems who waste time and money playing political games.”
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey MP told MyLondon: “Soaring energy bills are overwhelming too many families. We are facing the biggest fall in living standards since the 1950s. But out-of-touch Conservative Ministers just don’t get it. They are doing nothing to help – instead, they are adding to the pain with their unfair tax rises…People across the capital have been let down and taken for granted for too long by the Conservatives. Every vote for the Liberal Democrats on Thursday is a vote to send them a message. It’s a vote to elect a strong local champion who will fight for a fair deal for you and your community.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer said in an email to supporters on Wednesday night (May 4): “A vote for Labour is a vote to back our call for an emergency budget to tackle the cost of living crisis with a windfall tax on oil and gas profits. It’s a vote to back our plan for warmer homes and to save households across the country up to £600 on their energy bills…Britain deserves better…The Tories have failed Britain. Labour is the only party on your side.”
And launching their election campaign last month, the Green Party’s Carla Denyer put housing at the top of their agenda, saying at an event in Lambeth: “In the middle of this cost of living crisis, we know what needs to be done and yet the government is falling so chronically short. On top of that, Labour and Conservative-run councils up and down the country are not listening to what residents want…They are forcing people to live in constant fear of losing their homes, with all the physical and mental trauma that brings. Greens have another plan. Not to discard these homes but to upgrade them.”
Campaigners are in a final, desperate dash for votes ahead of Thursday’s mega-round of local elections in London. All of London’s 32 borough councils and their 1,817 seats are up for election, alongside thousands more seats in the rest of England.
This May’s elections will also see five boroughs pick directly-elected mayors: Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Croydon. Labour should be a shoe-in for four of those mayoralties, but Croydon could be a close contest. Predicting the outcome is a tricky game in an election when only 40 per cent of people vote. But there are definite signs we can look at for how well the parties are faring.
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