Labour Takes Major London Councils From The Tories In Blow To Boris Johnson
Labour has won control of the councils in Wandsworth, Barnet, and Westminster from the Conservatives in a major blow to Boris Johnson’s party.
It is the first time Labour has won Barnet and Westminster since both councils were created in the 1960s.
The losses have been blamed on the Westminster Tory party, with many councillors claiming that issues such as Downing Street parties were frequently raised on the doorstep.
Conservative party chairman Oliver Dowden admitted that “difficult headlines” had hit the Conservatives, but insisted the countrywide picture was still positive.
“If you look across the country we have made gains in places like Hartlepool, we have made them in Thurrock, we have made them in Nuneaton,” he told Sky news.
"Given that we are mid-term I think it really doesn't show that Labour have the momentum to form the next government but inevitably mid-term we are going to have challenges like this."
He also downplayed Labour’s victory in Wandsworth, pointing out that the Conservatives “only won that by about 200 votes last time around”.
Former Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick also dismissed the loss of Wandsworth Council, claiming that he would not “extrapolate too much into this to the broader political picture”.
“All three of the local parliamentary constituencies are Labour ones, so it is not, in that sense, so surprising that the council would eventually go Labour,” he told Sky News.
The council's outgoing Tory leader, Ravi Govindia, said that during the campaign, national issues had trumped local issues on the doorstep.
“I blame ourselves. We fought the most exceptional campaign this year and we obviously could have worked harder.
“We failed to do that. Obviously at all times the issue of what is happening at the national level does come up on the doorstep and we were always able to bring the debate down to the local issues.”
Labour’s leader in Barnet Council, Barry Rawlings, agreed that his party’s success in London was partly due to anger directed at the Conservative party.
“I’ll be honest, it’s not us being wonderful,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.
“I think a lot of Conservatives haven’t voted this time, I think they feel alienated from Number 10 and that they are, I don’t know, they’ve been disappointed with Boris Johnson and so not voting and I think that’s made a difference as well.”
Dowden defended the Prime Minister, however, telling BBC Radio 4 that he had delivered “bold leadership” on many key issues for voters such as the vaccine rollout, Brexit and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
He said the party had to ensure it was not not distracted by all the "shenanigans in Westminster" going forward.
He added: "What we need to do as we face these challenges is to focus on delivery – that's what needs to change, more of a focus on delivery and focusing on the concerns of the British people."
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe