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A special Sean Fear Friday Slot

September 25th, 2009

Sean looks ahead to London’s locals next May

The next London Borough Elections are due in May 2010, probably on the same day as the General Election. In 2006, the Conservatives led strongly, winning fifteen boroughs outright, compared to eight for Labour, and four for the Liberal Democrats. The Conservatives’ lead, in terms of vote share, was less impressive, winning 35%, compared to 28% for Labour, and 21% for the Liberal Democrats.

If, as seems likely, the Conservatives win a large majority in the General Election, then they will probably have a bigger percentage lead across London than in 2006. However, many people do not vote the same way in local and general elections. I expect the vote for the Liberal Democrats, and the minor parties, to be squeezed slightly, if both elections are held on the same day; however, I expect them to poll more strongly in local elections, than at Parliamentary level. Overall, I assume that the Conservatives’ lead over Labour will be similar to 2006, although both parties will poll slightly better than they did in that year. Turning to each borough:-

Barking & Dagenham. I expect Labour to lose this to No Overall Control. In Barking, the BNP ought to make gains, simply by fielding more candidates than they did in 2006. In Dagenham, I expect the Conservatives to win wards like Eastbrook, Chadwell Heath, and Whalebone, on the back of their general election campaign against John Cruddas. Labour’s losses in each part of the borough should cause them to lose overall control, but to remain the largest party. Barnet should see the Conservatives increase their majority, while Bexley and Bromley will be easy Conservative holds.

Brent should be gained by Labour, from No Overall Control. The coalition between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives has not been popular with either party’s supporters, and has led two Conservative councillors to resign. This borough gave Labour one of its best results in the London Assembly elections. Labour should regain Queensbury, and perhaps win Barnhill, and regain some ground from the Liberal Democrats in the East of the borough. Camden will, in all likelihood, remain under No Overall Control, with the Liberal Democrats possibly emerging as the largest party.

Croydon will be an easy Conservative hold, while Ealing will provide one of the closest contests. It was won comfortably by the Conservatives in 2006, but the London Assembly results suggest that Labour will make gains. Labour actually led the Conservatives marginally, across the borough as a whole, but led in fewer wards than the Conservatives. Labour’s problem is that they pile up huge majorities in Southall, while the Conservatives pull off narrower wins in the rest of the borough. I would expect a narrow Conservative hold.

Enfield Unusually, the Conservatives lost ground, in 2006, mostly to campaigners against the closure of Chase Farm Hospital. That campaign has now faded away, and the London Assembly results suggests the Conservatives will retain the borough with an increased majority.

Greenwich and Hackney will be easy Labour holds, while Havering should be held comfortably by the Conservatives. Labour actually finished fourth in this borough in the European elections, where once they had three MPs. They may well be left without a single councillor. Hammersmith & Fulham and Hillingdon will be retained comfortably by the Conservatives. Hounslow will, in all likelihood, remain under No Overall Control. Harrow, which also saw a very good Labour performance in 2008, and whose Conservative administration has attracted criticism, will probably be lost to No Overall Control.

Haringey will again provide an extremely close-fought battle between Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The London Assembly elections, in which the Liberal Democrats performed poorly, and the Conservatives well, provide no guide to the borough results. Anti-Labour voters here often vote Liberal Democrat in borough elections, and Conservative at Mayoral and Assembly level. The Liberal Democrats’ problem is their inability to break into Tottenham. At this stage, I am not prepared to predict which party will win.

Islington was nearly lost by the Liberal Democrats in 2006. As with Haringey, the Assembly results (which show the Liberal Democrats badly trailing Labour) should be ignored. Nevertheless, this borough does offer Labour its best chance of a gain, in London, and I expect that they may just do it, even if the Liberal Democrats beat Emily Thornberry in Islington South. A further complicating factor is that the Green Party could well gain seats here.

Kensington & Chelsea will be a predictable Conservative hold. Kingston, which the Conservatives nearly gained from the Liberal Democrats in 2006, will be very tight. On balance, I would expect the Conservatives to win it narrowly.

Lambeth should be held comfortably by Labour. Lewisham (which has an elected Mayor) should likewise be retained quite comfortably by Labour. Merton will provide an extremely tight contest, with the Conservatives dominant in Wimbledon, and Labour in Mitcham & Morden. In a polarised contest, I would expect the Conservatives to win the one ward that is held by Residents, Merton Park, and take control. Newham will be an easy Labour hold.

Redbridge has been lost by the Conservatives to No Overall Control, following the defection of two councillors. I expect them to regain it next year. Richmond will be an easy Liberal Democrat hold. Southwark will likely remain under No Overall Control. Sutton will probably be a narrow Conservative win. Tower Hamlets will likely see Labour retain its overall majority, but the Conservatives should continue to advance in Docklands. Westminster and Wandsworth will remain predictably Conservative, and Waltham Forest will just as predictably, remain under No Overall Control.

Sean Fear is a Tory activist who for several years contributed his regular “Friday Slots”