Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Night That London Showed Labour the Door Routed Party Set to Be Left in Control of Just Six Councils

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Night That London Showed Labour the Door Routed Party Set to Be Left in Control of Just Six Councils

Article excerpt

Byline: ROSS LYDALL

LABOUR faced almost total wipeout in London as the Conservatives painted the capital blue for the first time in more than 20 years.

The party paid for Tony Blair's unpopularity and is likely to be left with a mere six councils when the final results are declared today. Labour lost control of key boroughs such as Camden, Croydon, Brent and - ominously - Ealing, which could herald future general election success for the Tories.

Experts said it looked like the biggest shake-up of political control in London for 30 years, with 15 of the 32 boroughs expected to see a change in leadership.

Prior to polling, Labour had controlled 15 boroughs, with the Tories on eight and three being run by the Liberal Democrats. Only an unexpected regaining of control in Lambeth, which had been run by a Lib-Dem and Tory coalition, and the saving of Haringey from the Lib-Dems by only three councillors, helped lighten the Labour mood. By contrast-the Tories basked in the glory of a David Cameron-inspired revival, winning unexpectedly in Harrow, Hillingdon and Havering as well as securing target boroughs such as Hammersmith & Fulham - where Mr Cameron may make a victory appearance later today - Bexley and Croydon.

They held their bastions of Westminster, Wandsworth and Kensington & Chelsea, but it was the scale of victory in previously knife-edge boroughs that caught the eye.

In Bexley, they turned a two-seat deficit into a gain of 23 seats to humiliate Labour, while Hillingdon was transformed from hung to Tory rule after a gain of 15 seats. However, the Tory advance failed to materialise in Merton with the six gains insufficient to wrestle outright control from Labour. The borough ended up in no overall control.

The only bad Tory result was the loss of Richmond, which returned to the Lib-Dems after four years - three of which saw it having the highest council tax bills in London.

The Lib-Dems further strengthened their power base in south-west London by retaining Sutton and Kingston. …

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