With polling day fast approaching, Peter Bingle sets out his views on the campaign so far and the likely winners and losers in the forthcoming local elections. 

As we enter the final straits of the London election campaign it is worth standing back, digesting political intelligence from various sources, factoring in national political issues and then seeing where that leads us.

It has been a given now for many months that there will be a Tory meltdown on 3rd May. The reasons given are simple but powerful – the aftermath of the terrible Zac Goldsmith mayoral campaign, the popularity of Jeremy Corbyn and Sadiq Khan, London’s demographics plus the fact that Londoners voted massively for Remain in the EU referendum.

Privately, even senior Tories were predicting a terrible result. Over the last few weeks, however, something has happened which suggests that the result may surprise the pundits and soothsayers. (At this point, I need to give you a political health warning – Nobody actually knows what the result will be!!) There are signs backed up by on the ground political intelligence that there might be some surprises.

Let’s start with some givens. Marginal Labour boroughs such as Croydon, Hammersmith & Fulham, Merton and Redbridge will be much less marginal on 4th May. The exception could be Harrow where there is growing speculation across the political spectrum that the Tories could gain control.

The real interest in safe Labour boroughs is the extent to which the (hard) left will take control of the leadership post 3rd May. In Lewisham and Newham we know who the new Mayors will be (Damian Egan and Rokhsana Fiaz) and that they are very different to Steve Bullock and Sir Robin Wales. Claire Kober’s successor in Haringey is still not known. A leadership election campaign is underway in Greenwich. There will be a new leader in Enfield.

Interestingly, there is increasing speculation about a number of existing Labour leaders who may be challenged immediately after the elections. They know who they are! This is not good news for Sadiq Khan as it effectively means that his housing targets becoming nothing more than a pipe dream. It is also a challenge for the developer community as there will be many fewer pro development London boroughs.

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy there was fevered speculation that the Tories would lose control of Kensington & Chelsea, Wandsworth and Westminster. The mood now is very different. RBKC will stay Tory and the most likely result in both Wandsworth and Westminster is reduced Tory majorities but no change of political control. These are the most hotly contested local campaigns since May 1986. In that election Wandsworth Tories had a majority of just one!

The pundits are predicting that the Lib Dem’s will regain control of Kingston and Richmond. This is strongly challenged by leading Tories in both boroughs who believe they will retain control. In neighbouring Sutton there is even the possibility of the Tories ousting the Lib Dems. This would be a major shock in a borough which has been Lib Dem for a very long time.

The Tories will retain Bexley and Bromley and will continue to run Havering with the support of independents. Nobody knows what will happen in Hillingdon!

So election night on 3rd May will not be a foregone conclusion. It could be a Labour triumph or the Tories could do better than expected. These are not the times when wise people make predictions…

4.20 avg. rating (84% score) - 5 votes