By Josh Kaile
Wandsworth has a reputation as a safe Conservative borough: after all, there are 46 Conservative councillors out of 60 right now.
So there’s not much point in voting, right – nothing’s going to change?
Last June there was a by-election in another part of Wandsworth: Thamesfield ward, one of the very safest Conservative seats in the borough – caused by another councillor resigning.We in Labour stood another local candidate, and ran a campaign similar to the one we’re doing in Southfields: talking about local issues and the less-than-impressive record the council has once you get beyond the level of council tax.
What happened? A 13.5% swing away from the Conservatives to us. That, incidentally, has not come close to being repeated in any other council by-election anywhere in the country since; it can’t be dismissed. As veteran election night presenter Peter Snow would say: “just for fun” – this is what our council would look like on a 13.5% swing:
And just for information, on that sort of swing, two of those new Labour councillors would proudly be representing Southfields. So you see, your vote really can make a difference. It really can bring change to Wandsworth. Conservative dominance of Wandsworth is founded upon two edificies: first low council tax; second a divided opposition.
One of those – low council tax – is simply not an issue in this by-election. Council Tax will not change whoever you vote for on Thursday 29th March. The second of those factors – the splintered, divided opposition – only you can remedy. If Southfields voters continue to waste support on candidates who can’t win, the only outcome will be yet another Tory victory. But if everyone keen on change, who wants a bit of choice in our elected representatives votes for me, then we can do it.
Southfields has been Conservative in council elections ever since 1976. For probably the first time since, there’s a genuine chance to change that. Please lend me your vote this time round.