Things can only get rougher for Labour, say rivals

OPPOSITION parties have seized on the London election results to predict Labour MPs will be booted out at the next parliamentary race

Katie Davies

OPPOSITION parties have seized on the London election results to predict Labour MPs will be booted out at the next parliamentary race.

Tories and Lib Dems vying for Glenda Jackson's seat of Hampstead and Kilburn promise a knife-edge race and the Tories also say they will dislodge Rudi Vis's place at the helm of Finchley and Golders Green.

The race will certainly be tough for Mr Vis. Barnet, which is joined to Camden in the Assembly constituency, voted strongly in favour of Conservative Brian Coleman but also in support of Boris ahead of Ken.

Conservative council leader for Barnet and parliamentary candidate for Finchley and Golders Green, Mike Freer, says the results give plenty of reason for him to be hopeful.

"I think the Assembly result in Barnet and Camden reflects Brian's hard work but we also had a by-election in Hale (Barnet) which was a resounding success for the Conservatives," he said.

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"Taken with Boris's result it is very significant. It is good news for me as a candidate for Finchley and Golders Green. This is the number one target for the Conservatives in the country."

In Hampstead and Kilburn Tory candidate Chris Philp believes the surge in support of the London party means he will clinch it.

"This result shows without a doubt we can win Hampstead and Kilburn," he said.

"It is amazing news for London Conservatives. Brian Paddick only won 9.76 per cent of the vote in Barnet and Camden which shows this is a two-horse race between Labour and the Conservatives."

However, the picture isn't quite so clear. Parts of Brent in the newly realigned constituency have a Lib Dem MP and the Brent and Harrow Assembly vote went to Labour candidate Navin Shah and Ken Livingstone for mayor on Friday.

The Lib Dems are also the strongest party on Camden Council and have done repeatedly well in local by-elections.

Lib Dem council leader, Keith Moffitt, said: "This will be a knife-edge race. People are looking for an alternative to Labour and the only option is the Lib Dems. The London elections aren't a good guide because people realised this was a standoff between Boris and Ken - it will be a very different situation for the Lib Dems in the general election. Our candidate Ed Fordham is very high profile and understands what local people care about."

Veteran MP Glenda Jackson has vowed to fight again and is not someone who will roll over, no matter what the other results have been.

Mike Katz who is heading up her campaign, warned there will be a strong showing for the incumbent as well.

"Glenda has been a very strong MP for many years," he said. "We realise there is a lot to do - we are not at all complacent but the game is not up by any stretch of the imagination. We have a lot of support in Camden and Brent - they know which side their bread is buttered on and would never vote Tory."