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Camden and Barnet Labour buoyed ahead of general election by council successes

Camden Labour members celebrate victory at the election count. Picture: Dieter Perry. Camden Labour members celebrate victory at the election count. Picture: Dieter Perry.

Thursday, May 29, 2014
8:00 AM

Confidence among Labour members has surged ahead of next year’s general election after the party swept to victory in Camden and came within a whisker of toppling Barnet’s Conservative administration.

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"Cameron or Miliband; Freer or Sackman, and Labour will get a bloody nose"

Mike Freer, Finchley and Golders Green MP

Labour tightened its grip on Camden in last week’s local elections, claiming 10 new seats and virtually wiping out the Liberal Democrats, who are left with just one seat.

In Barnet, control of the town hall came down to a nail-biting final vote count in Childs Hill ward, as the bruised Tories eventually prevailed but with a shaky majority.

Blogger Theresa Musgrove, better known under her pseudonym Mrs Angry, said Barnet Conservatives had made the “fatal error of alienating their own voters” with controversial policies such as the One Barnet programme, under which the bulk of council services are outsourced to private firms.

She added: “The fact that they were so stunned at the count was predictable because they are so out of touch.

“It’s a great shame that Labour didn’t get enough to take the council but it’s only one by-election away from a different outcome.”

Camden Labour leader Sarah Hayward said the election set the party up for successful general election fights in Hampstead and Kilburn and Holborn and St Pancras.

“It shows that despite the tough times our solutions resonate,” she said. “Hampstead and Kilburn ward results look amazing for Labour in what could be a knife-edge seat.”

The Barnet Council results may pave the way for an even tighter battle over Tory-held Finchley and Golders Green as Labour closed the gap on the Conservatives.

Barrister Sarah Sackman, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Finchley and Golders Green, said: “We are talking about tens of votes and we would have taken the borough. It’s an indication of how close it’s going to be next year.”

But incumbent Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer was in a bullish mood.

He said: “Labour is forgetting that the turnout was 40 per cent, significantly below a general election. They are forgetting they failed to win Childs Hill ward, despite throwing everything at it.

“One Barnet was not raised on the doorstep – they and their union funders are the only ones obsessed by it.

“The key at the next general election will be about re-electing a local MP with a strong track record of being accessible, effective and efficient in their constituency duties and electing a government that has fixed the economy for Miliband and those who wrecked it.

“Cameron or Miliband; Freer or Sackman, and Labour will get a bloody nose.”

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