Labour marks historic victory in Westminster - a council held by the Tories since creation in 1964

Result came after another win in the Tory ‘crown jewel’ of Wandsworth

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Friday 06 May 2022 09:07 BST
Tories lose Wandsworth as Boris Johnson faces backlash from own councillors

Labour has pulled off a historic victory in the Tory council of Westminster — a seat held by the Conservatives since its creation in 1964.

It came just hours after Tories lost the “crown jewel” of Wandsworth, which Labour last held 44 years ago in 1978, in a major blow to Boris Johnson.

Strengthening its grip on the capital, Labour also clinched victory in Barnet after the Tory council leader conceded defeat, saying the loss was a “warning shot” for the government.

He added the result did not “bode well” for the Conservatives at the next general election, as the Partygate scandal and the cost of living crisis impacts on the party’s vote share.

Jonathan Carr-West, the chief executive of the Local Government information Unit (LGiU), said with around half of the councils declared the “most dramatic” were in the capital.

He said Labour taking control of Barnet, Wandsworth and Westminster council “has huge symbolic value and losing all three of these councils in a single election will be a big blow to the Conservative morale”.

Mr Carr-West added: “At the same time, it’s part of a longer term trend in which Labour has tightened its grip on inner London.

“Over the last decade, we have seen an increasing polarisation with the Labour vote concentrated in large cities and university towns and Conservative support spread across the rest of the country. In that respect, Conservative losses in Southampton or West Oxfordshire might be more telling indicators.”

After full results were declared from 67 councils, the Tories had lost control of four authorities and suffered a net loss of 90 seats, Labour had a net gain of two councils and 57 councillors, the Lib Dems had gained a council and 37 seats while the Greens had put on 20 councillors.

As dozens of Tory councillors lost their seats against the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis and the Partygate scandal, other local Conservative leaders also criticised the prime minister.

John Mallinson, leader of Carlisle City Council hit out after Labour took control of the new Cumberland authority which will replace it.

He told the BBC: “I think it is not just partygate, there is the integrity issue.

“Basically I just don’t feel people any longer have the confidence that the Prime Minister can be relied upon to tell the truth.”

In Portsmouth, where the Tories lost four seats, Simon Bosher the leader of the Conservative group said Mr Johnson should “take a good, strong look in the mirror” because “those are people that are actually bearing the brunt on the doorstep of behaviour of what’s been going on in Westminster”.

Ravi Govindia, the outgoing leader of the Wandsworth Tories, said: “Let’s not be coy about it, of course national issues were part of the dilemma people were facing.”

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