Can the Liberal Democrats Pull Off a Triple Triumph in North London?
The Liberal Democrats have seen their support growing steadily, across Brent, Camden, Haringey and (until recently) Islington. Currently, they hold two seats in these boroughs, Hornsey & Wood Green, and Brent East, which is due to be abolished.
The Liberal Democrats will be aiming to take win Islington South, together with the new seats of Brent Central and Hampstead & Kilburn, in each case, from Labour.
Notwithstanding that Sarah Teather will be fighting Brent Central, I consider that that seat is out of reach. Labour achieved one of their best results in London, in the wards which make up this seat, in May, winning 40% of the vote, compared to 29% for the Liberal Democrats. Sarah Teather is a formidable campaigner, but I canâ€™t see her winning a safe Labour seat, which has one of Londonâ€™s highest proportion of black voters, a constituency which is very loyal to Labour.
Islington South, on the face of it, looks much better for the Liberal Democrats. This had a Labour majority of just 484 at the last general election. However, unusually, this seat actually showed a swing to Labour in May, who took 32% to 33% for the Liberal Democrats. Both the Conservatives and the Greens polled quite well in this seat, with 15% and 14% respectively. The result may come down to which of the two main parties here can persuade Conservative and Green voters to vote tactically.
Hampstead & Kilburn will probably be the most interesting contest, a genuine three- way marginal, particularly now that Glenda Jackson has said she will be stepping down. The Liberal Democrats led in this seat in May, taking 36% of the vote, compared to 29% for the Conservatives, and 21% for Labour. However, historically, wards where the Liberal Democrats have done well locally, such as Fortune Green, and West Hampstead, have voted Labour at Parliamentary level.
The fact that Sarah Teather will not be standing in this seat may also lead to the wards that come in from Brent East reverting to their old allegiances â€“ to Labour in the case of Kilburn and Queens Park, and to the Conservatives in the case of Brondesbury Park.
Last night saw no change in the four seats that were contested.
Huntingdonshire DC – St Neots and Eaton Ford: Conservative 658, Lib Dem 577. Conservative hold. The Conservative and Liberal Democrat vote shares hardly altered.
Surrey CC – Englefield Green: Conservative 664, Lib Dem 317, UKIP 281, Labour 150, Monster Raving Loony Party 34. Conservative hold. Although there was no real shift between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, UKIP saw their vote share rise strongly.
Torridge DC – Northam: Conservative 556, Green 414. Conservative hold. In fact, the Conservatives didnâ€™t fight this seat in 2003, when it was won by the Community Alliance. However, the retiring councillor switched from the Community Alliance to the Conservatives.
Walsall Borough – Aldridge North and Walsall Wood: Conservative 1157, UKIP 309, Labour 222, BNP 160, Lib Dem 132. Conservative hold. Unlike most recent contests, the BNP performed very badly here, dropping from second to fourth, while UKIP performed well, getting into second place.
Sean Fear is a London Tory activist