Labour delighted, Conservatives disappointed

London local elections summarised

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The London local election results can be summarised in a snappy sentence – Labour delighted, Conservatives disappointed, Liberal Democrats depressed and UKIP disappeared (if they ever appeared in the first place). Labour now control 20 of London’s 32 local authorities, up from 15 before the election; the Conservatives control nine; the Liberal Democrats hold only Sutton, having lost Kingston; Tower Hamlets is Independent; and Havering is No Overall Control.

Labour have had their best performance in 40 years. The Liberal Democrats are down to just 115 councillors, a total less than half what it was earlier this week. The Conservatives will be relieved despite the loss of one of their flagship boroughs and UKIP, well they didn’t quite deliver. Labour now control five more boroughs than they did three days ago, and three more than they did in 2010. Perhaps more significantly, they strengthened their leadership in 12 boroughs and made gains in all but two of the 32. In the paragraphs overleaf we consider some of the local reasons for this stellar performance but some credit must also be given to the efforts of Labour’s London campaign manager, MP for Tooting, Sadiq Khan which clearly got the local Labour vote out much as Simon Fletcher’s team did in 2010.

The Conservatives will be smarting at the loss of Hammersmith and Fulham, we didn’t predict it and no one else did either, and they would also have hoped to have kept hold of Croydon. However, they did pick up target borough Kingston from the Lib Dems, and just kept hold in Barnet. Compared to a few days ago they are only down one borough (they lost two but gained one).

In any event, compared to the Lib Dems, the Tories should be over the moon. It is fair to say that their national coalition partner had a truly abysmal night. Only nine boroughs now have more than one Lib Dem councillor and they were wiped out in places where they have historically done well like Islington, Lambeth and Waltham Forest. They now control just one borough, Sutton. If their sitting MPs didn’t have a 2015 target on their backs already, they certainly do now. Even Simon Hughes, who enjoys a majority of 8,530 in Bermondsey and Old Southwark, will be nervously studying the numbers that saw 10 Lib Dem seats of 21 in his constituency lost to Labour.

And what about UKIP? They picked up just 12 across three boroughs – Havering, Bexley and Bromley – actually leading to a net loss of eight seats overall, albeit most of these were defections from other parties. They won nothing in Croydon where they fielded more than 40 candidates or Barking and Dagenham where they have polled well in the past. Of course they did much better outside the capital, suggesting that London is simply not their natural territory.

Meanwhile, the Green Party gained two seats to take their total to four, but each seat is in a different borough so they will be feeling rather lonely. However, other smaller parties did not fare so well and taken as a group, residents’ associations, breakaway factions and independents lost 21 seats across the capital. There are now only four boroughs with councillors who do not represent one of the five main parties (Lab, Con, Lib Dem, UKIP, Green), compared to 16 before the election.

Read more analysis from London Communications Agency

May 29, 2014

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