LABOUR members across the borough borders in both Westminster and Barnet are trying to keep a lid on their growing belief that they could turn those two Tory councils into Labour-controlled authorities at May’s local elections. The quietly confident approach is proving difficult to contain, however, and I’ve spoken to one or two members in both boroughs who think once unthinkable victories are now within sight. I’ve also heard it suggested that Camden Labour’s own swollen membership should forget trying to completely wipe out the opposition on this side of the boundary and help get their party over the line in Conservative-led areas when the London elections ground war begins as we get closer to May.
All this means the thrust of the Evening Standard‘s front page exclusive tonight comes as little surprise to their campaign builders, as Conservative election analyst Lord Hayward – uncle, to our former Labour council leader in Camden, Sarah Hayward – tells the paper that Jeremy Corbyn’s party can seize Barnet for the first time, while the Tories face “the fight of their lives to hold on to Westminster”.
“On the evidence it looks like a bad night for them [the Conservatives],” said Lord Hayward, who spotters will remember chaired the open primary in Hampstead and Kilburn which saw Simon Marcus selected to stand against Tulip Siddiq ahead of the 2015 general election.
“And a good night for Jeremy Corbyn.”
It’s this kind of prediction for the capital which has stirred Labour campaigners to believe they can gain Camden seats in Tory held areas like Swiss Cottage and Belsize on polling day… while the rest of the council chamber looks across the way to red Islington, where only one seat in the house is held by an opposition councillor.
In their heart of hearts, they know that kind of scenario isn’t great for democracy on a local level, but Labour activists, understandably I guess, say they owe it to their supporters to try and turn their votes into as many seats as possible.