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Tory Ministers See Support Slip Away In ‘Blue Wall’ Seats

Tory Ministers See Support Slip Away In ‘Blue Wall’ Seats

(Alamy)

4 min read

This year’s local elections have been largely described as a ‘disaster’ for the Conservatives and the ‘blue wall’ stronghold shows signs of crumbling in many cabinet ministers’ constituencies.

The 2022 local election results are a crucial test of the national mood in a year rocked by political scandals, economic crisis and the invasion of Ukraine. 

In Boris Johnson’s own constituency in Hillingdon, the Tories lost three council seats to Labour.

This raises questions as to whether constituents are starting to break faith with the prime minister after he has been at the centre of Covid rule-breaking allegations in Downing Street. 

Hillingdon Labour said: “We are delighted to have won 23 seats out of a possible 53. Next up: we're going to remove Boris Johnson from office.”

In Somerset, the home and constituency of Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg's North East Somerset seat, the Liberal Democrats won the neighbouring Somerset council from the Conservatives with a majority of 61 out of 110 seats.

Bill Revans, the new Liberal Democrat leader of Somerset Council, said: "After 13 years of the Conservatives being in charge I think there was [a feeling of] 'it's time for a change' and people wanted to put the heart back into Somerset."

After losing his seat, Conservative councillor William Wallace said that although the election campaign had been about local issues, ‘partygate’ had not helped the ‘local cause’.

On a victory lap in Somerset, Lib Dem leader Ed Davey said: “The biggest issue across the country was the cost of living emergency and the Conservative government was not doing anything near enough to help those people.

“I’m afraid the Conservatives were just taking people for granted.”

Meanwhile, in Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab’s constituency area of Elmbridge, the Conservatives lost six seats, four of which went to the Lib Dems. 

In the latest general elections, Raab’s majority went from 23,000 in 2017 to 2,700 in 2019, setting a worrying precedent for the Conservative’s next election contest. 

Deputy PM Dominic Raab told Sky News: “It’s going to be a tough fight for me in my seat.”

It was also a bad day for the Conservatives in COP26 President Alok Sharma’s Reading constituency, where they lost three seats and Labour retained control of the council. 

The Green Party overtook the Conservatives as the biggest opposition party with seven councillors.

This follows another blow for the Conservatives in Reading when a senior Conservative councillor and former mayor defected from the Tories and switched to the Labour Party earlier this year. 

Clarence Mitchell, leader of the Reading Borough Conservatives, said: “There is no doubt that the national climate has affected our vote around the country.”

In Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ constituency of Welwyn Hatfield, the Conservative mayor was one of two Tory councillors to lose their seat to Labour, despite the Tories holding onto an overall majority.

Tory group leader Tony Kingsbury said: "I am understandably disappointed to lose two seats, reducing our majority, but these things happen in politics as situations change both locally and nationally.”

The traditional heartlands of some of the UK’s most prominent Conservative figures are showing signs of shifting political allegiance.

In former prime minister David Cameron’s former constituency area of West Oxfordshire, the Tories lost their majority while the Liberal Democrats celebrated winning three seats. 

The Greens and Labour also gained a seat each, changing the balance of control in the council.

In another Lib Dem surge, John Major’s old stomping ground of Huntingdonshire was lost by the Conservatives to no overall control. Three of the seats were taken by the Lib Dems, one by Labour, and one by the Greens. 

In one of the most seismic results in London, the Tories lost control of Barnet Council to Labour.

This borough was home to Margaret Thatcher’s constituency Finchley, which she held between 1959 and 1992, and the Conservatives have won Barnet in all but two elections since 1964.

Barnet Conservative leader Daniel Thomas said: "I think this is a warning shot from Conservative supporters. A fair number of Conservative voters just didn't go out to vote.

"Labour won the council; if they win our parliamentary constituencies as well, then it doesn't bode well for us to form a government in future general elections."

Senior Tories in Scotland have also seen challenges to their leadership. The Scottish Conservatives were unable to hold an overall majority in Dumfries and Galloway, the constituency of Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack.

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