With all the excitement of the General Election, one tranche of elections seems to have been neglected. Since the General Election a slew of mayoral candidates have declared their intention to run, but it is the GLA elections, that are yet to fire up people’s imaginations.
The Conservatives currently hold six of the 14 constituency seats, having lost Barnet and Camden, and Ealing and Hillingdon in 2012. The Conservatives need to focus on winning back these two key seats.
For too long, the Conservatives have seen London as their Achilles Heel. The May results were not as strong as they could have been for the Conservatives, with the main tactic, to aggressively target the Liberal Democrats. Nevertheless, we should never accept London to be a Labour fiefdom, no more than Scotland was a Labour country or that the South West was a Liberal Democrat stronghold. Until 2008, we held nine of the 14 constituency wide seats, with Londoners acknowledging that only the Conservatives understand and can appeal to each of the diverse range of communities in the city.
Labour is now on the run; they suffered a heavy (and in their minds) completely unexpected defeat. The party has been given an almighty bloody nose and is directionless, whilst it carries out a prolonged masterpiece of naval-gazing and introspection. With Jeremy Corbyn currently riding high with backing from the GMB and Unite, causing further despair for the blue Labourites, we need to capitalise on this and ram home our victory by securing London, once more, for the Conservatives.
It won’t be easy. If there was one area that gave Labour solace on a dark election night it was London. A defeat in London, combined with a certain pounding by the SNP in the Scottish Parliamentary elections next year, will throw them off guard and deliver them into a tailspin of despair. Further divisions will emerge, showing that whoever their new leader is, they still haven’t been able to undo the damage of the Miliband years – after all, even Miliband won the GLA election in 2012.
To win, we need a strong campaign and a strong mayoral candidate. However, above all we need strong local voices, candidates who live and breathe these areas, preferably ones who were born and bred here. London may be a huge city, but it is actually a collection of small village-like communities knitted together. We need local candidates who have experienced London during the good times, such as the Olympics, but also when we suffered during the Riots. Now is not a time for carpetbaggers and careerists – rather it is a time to follow up our great victory of 2015 and secure our victory in 2020.
Alexander Stafford is Conservative Councillor for Ealing Broadway
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