As 8 June draws ever closer, Peter Bingle discusses the shifting tectonic plates of London politics.
One of the political blind spots of David Cameron was Greater London. For some strange reason (I still can’t work out why) he never seemed to care about Tory controlled London boroughs or London Tory MPs.
There was no London political strategy in either 2010 or 2015. The result was a growing perception (which became a reality) that London was a Labour city. Boris Johnson’s two mayoral victories were dismissed as exceptions which proved the rule: ‘Labour Rules London Ok!’
In the early hours of Friday 9th June it will become very clear that London is not a Labour city. The Tories are well placed to win the following Labour marginals:
Brentford & Isleworth – Ruth Cadbury MP
Ealing Central & Acton – Rupa Huq MP
Eltham – Clive Efford MP
Enfield North – Joan Ryan MP
Hammersmith – Andy Slaughter MP
Hampstead & Kilburn – Tulip Siddiq MP
Harrow West – Gareth Thomas MP
Ilford North – Wes Streeting MP
Tooting – Rosena Allin-Khan MP
Westminster North – Karen Buck MP
In some of these seats there are special factors. In Tooting will the Sadiq Khan factor be enough to save his successor Rosena Allin-Khan? In Ilford North and Westminster North will the local reputations of Wes Streeting and Karen Buck help them to avoid defeat? Is Andy Slaughter too embedded in Hammersmith? If, however, there really is a Tory lead of twenty per cent on Election Day nothing will save them. Labour’s political dominance in London will have been shattered. Let’s also not forget Neil Coyle who is likely to lose to Lib Dem veteran Sir Simon Hughes in what is likely to be a vicious battle in Bermondsey & Old Southwark…
If there is a Labour meltdown in London on 8th June it will almost inevitably have an impact on London’s local elections in May 2018. Suddenly Labour councils such as Croydon, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Merton and Redbridge all look very vulnerable. There is even talk of Labour losing overall control of Camden.
May 2018 is of course a long way off and we live in a world in which there is no longer certainty. What can be stated with confidence, however, is the assertion that Labour’s dominance in London has ended and normal politics has finally returned.
There was a time in the 1980s when a majority of London’s MPs were Tory and the party held seats such as: Ealing North, Feltham & Heston, Lewisham East, Lewisham West and Walthamstow. Are we witnessing the early signs of a Tory revival in Greater London? If so, there will be a great deal of nervousness at City Hall. Suddenly the London Mayoral election in May 2020 is no longer a foregone conclusion.