The Labour Party has gained control of three London local authorities previously considered to be Conservative strongholds in the 2022 local elections.
Councils began to declare results in the early hours of Friday morning, after the close of polls at 10pm on Thursday evening, revealing that Labour had taken control of Wandsworth, Westminster and Barnet councils from the Tories.
Barnet, which had been held by the Tories for 20 years and is home to Margaret Thatcher’s old seat, saw Labour take 12 seats from the Conservatives, leaving the Tories with 22 councillors and Labour 41. It is the first time that the opposition party has held a majority on the north London local authority.
The London borough has a large Jewish population and Labour said this morning that the party gaining the council shows “the progress Keir Starmer has made to regain the trust of Jewish voters”.
Wandsworth Council turned red last night for the first time since 1978. The authority is often referred to as a Tory flagship council, but it returned 32 Labour councillors. The Conservative Party secured just 22 seats on what has been described as Margaret Thatcher’s favourite council, with one seat going to an Independent.
Commenting this morning, Sadiq Khan said: “Margaret Thatcher, John Major, William Hague, Ian Duncan Smith, Michael Howard, David Cameron, Theresa May – all those times, this was a Conservative council.” The mayor added that a “combination” of Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer had “brought home this seat to Labour”.
Labour also gained control of the previously Conservative Westminster Council. It is the first time that the Labour Party has taken control of the authority since its creation in 1964. Following Thursday’s vote, Labour now has 29 seats.
The victory for Labour had previously been considered an unlikely ask as the geographic distribution of supporters had historically made Westminster a difficult London borough for the party to make significant inroads.
Labour national campaign coordinator and MP Shabana Mahmood described the elections as a “turning point”, adding: “After the disastrous results of 2019, these early results are showing the progress we have made thanks to Keir’s leadership.
“Labour is making headway in England, Scotland and Wales, taking over key Conservative councils and winning in vital Parliamentary battlegrounds across the country. Voters have put their trust in the change Keir Starmer’s Labour represents.”