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What do council election results say about next year’s general election?

Tulip Siddiq with Labour candidates at the Camden Council vote count. Picture: Dieter Perry. Tulip Siddiq with Labour candidates at the Camden Council vote count. Picture: Dieter Perry.

Friday, June 6, 2014
10:00 AM

The recent council elections in Camden, Haringey and Barnet were a bruising experience for the Liberal Democrats and a richly ­rewarding one for Labour.

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But what do the results say about all the parties’ chances ­locally in next year’s general election?

The Ham&High has compared the share of votes polled by the parties at the last general election with their share of votes at the council elections on May 22.

For each parliamentary constituency, we have compared the total number of votes cast in the 2010 general election with the ­total votes cast in all the council wards contained within each constituency during the recent local election.

In Hampstead and Kilburn, ­Labour enjoyed a 37.2 per cent overall share of the local election vote, leaving some daylight ­between them and the Conservatives and Lib Dems.

The party increased its share of the vote by 4.3 per cent from 2010, while the Tories suffered a 1.1 per cent drop and the Lib Dems endured a catastrophic 10.7 per cent fall.

It looks very different from the previous general election when Labour’s Glenda Jackson was elected over Tory Chris Philp by a majority of just 42 votes, pushing the Lib Dems into third place by just one per cent of the total votes cast.

Tulip Siddiq, Labour’s 2015 parliamentary candidate in Hampstead and Kilburn, is happy to see Labour’s progress.

“I’m pleased that people are supporting us and very pleased that we have such fantastic councillors,” she said.

“I don’t in any way want to take anything for granted because I understand a year is a long time and it’s not going to stop me working any harder.”

Simon Marcus, Tory parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, was encouraged by his party’s performance in the council wards within his prospective constituency.

“In Hampstead and Kilburn the Conservatives went from 10 to 15 councillors and Labour went from nine to 14,” he said.

“The election is a year from now. The trend is showing we are closing in on Labour both nationally and in London.

“That trend is picking up because people look at Ed Miliband and they don’t think he’s going to be prime ministerial material. I think Labour have as much to think about as we do.”

In Finchley and Golders Green, a constituency won comfortably by former Barnet Council leader Mike Freer for the Tories in 2010 with 45.9 per cent of the vote, the political landscape changed dramatically on May 22.

Labour enjoyed a 5.3 per cent surge in its share of the vote and left the Conservatives with just a 2.6 per cent winning margin (41.6 per cent) – a 4.3 per cent drop in vote share since 2010.

But Mr Freer insisted accurate conclusions could not be drawn from a comparison between general election and local election data.

“Until we see the turnout by polling district, not ward, all I see is Labour racking up their vote in Labour areas and some of the Conservative voters not bothering to vote,” he said.

“Plus Labour benefitted from a massive swing from the Lib Dems, who will recover at the general election.”

In Hornsey and Wood Green, the Lib Dems suffered a dire 17.3 per cent drop in votes, pushing them 13 per cent behind emphatic winners Labour with 42.3 per cent of the votes.

The local election result last month was a dramatic reverse of fortunes for the Lib Dems after incumbent MP Lynne Featherstone’s storming victory in 2010 – polling 46.5 per cent of the vote to Labour’s 34 per cent.

Ms Featherstone said: “We are down but certainly not out. This area needs a Lib Dem MP to campaign for, and with, local residents, and to hold the Labour-run council to account as it lurches from scandal to scandal.”

In Holborn and St Pancras, ­a safe Labour seat, the party increased its majority of votes by 8.1 per cent to a 54.2 per cent overall share of votes last month.

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