Marginal Bury gives Labour local election jitters as Tories circle
Disillusioned supporters and Jewish voters may hold key to keeping council controlRead more: The Guardian »
Oh get a fucking grip, Bury!
Comment: As the local elections approach, the Tories ignore London at their perilEvening Standard Comment: Not only skyrocketing rents in the city but a general sense that the Government isn’t much interested in London outside of the context of levelling-up the rest of the country
Poll gives Labour massive lead over Tories ahead of London electionsLocal elections 2022 special: Poll gives Labour massive lead over the Tories in London. Plus ayeshahazarika says don't pity Angela Rayner – let’s instead clear out Westminster’s pathetic men. The West End Final newsletter by jackkessler1 is out now
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Labour 'could struggle to make gains' at next week's local electionsA YouGov survey for Queen Mary University of London's Mile End Institute revealed Labour has built up a 27-point lead over the Conservatives in the capital. Most ' Londoners' are foreigners and asylum seekers. London is metropolitan Labour, nothing new about that. Daily Mail is still scummy.
Tory councillors disciplined for ‘hate’ directed at Jewish Labour candidateDan Ozarow felt terrorised by abuse of him and his family after negative campaigning in Hertfordshire
Fri 29 Apr 2022 12.Labour lead represents a five-point improvement on 2018, the last time these seats were contested.27 April 2022 A t least the weather has been decent.Thu 28 Apr 2022 19.
51 BST Last modified on Fri 29 Apr 2022 12.54 BST P erched to the south-west of the borough of Bury, Radcliffe has long been a place of contradictions and political turmoil. But there is a particular capital angle. The packed terrace houses, once homes to workers in a thriving paper industry, have sweeping views over lush green fields. That 27-point Labour lead represents a five-point improvement on 2018, the last time these seats were contested. These wards in the town, north of Manchester, see some of the area’s tightest fights – split between Labour, the Conservatives and the independent group Radcliffe First. It is not unalloyed good news for Labour. The two constituency seats in Bury are among the UK’s most marginal, turning Conservative in 2019 when Bury South’s Tory MP, Christian Wakeford, dramatically defected to Labour over growing anger with Boris Johnson. Though they have long been “sister parties”, the previous leader, Avi Gabbay, cut ties with Corbyn in 2018 over the handling of antisemitism within the Labour party.
His predecessor, Ivan Lewis, quit Labour amid a disciplinary process and had campaigned for Wakeford. And Starmer will be keenly aware that his party must make gains nationwide to win the next general election. Londoners meanwhile also face eye-watering rent rises amid an historic supply squeeze as well as a Prime Minister that rather gives the impression of having no interest in the city, save for running down its transport network and briefing against its mayor. James Daly, Wakeford’s northern Tory neighbour, has an even tighter seat – 105 votes – the most marginal in . Both Boris Johnson and the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, have campaigned here in recent weeks. Register for free to continue reading Sign up for exclusive newsletters, comment on stories, enter competitions and attend events. As a longtime Labour activist, Paddy Hennessy, put it: “If we don’t win both of these back then we might as well pack it all up now. Therefore, while they are projected to lose roughly 70 seats in London, they might consider that not too bad a result.” Despite the ostensibly favourable political climate, Labour has jitters about Bury, where every seat is up for re-election. Cummings said Starmer had been delighted to see them join activists hoping to take back Barnet council, where Labour underperformed in 2018.
Starmer launched his local campaign in the town, unusual for a council that Labour already holds. Nick Jones, the leader of the Conservative group, says he has “no doubt” his party could gain seats, possibly moving the council to no overall control. The Labour leaflets on Wednesday night are targeted at the independents with a picture of Johnson, “he wants you to vote Radcliffe First” – a sign of how Johnson is now seen as an electoral asset for Labour. But the Conservatives have kept their campaigning focused on the incumbent Labour council and away from national politics – with no pictures of Johnson in sight – including opposing plans for green belt homes, the Greater Manchester clean air charges and on potholes. “When we knock on doors, we’re not there to talk about Downing Street. Both decisions have drawn significant criticism from the party’s left.
We talk about potholes in their street. The street lights, the bins. Ultimately, it’s a tired, out-of touch Labour council,” Jones says. Both parties are fighting to take the credit for a new Radcliffe high school, one that briefly hit the media spotlight when Wakeford said Tory whips had threatened to cancel it if he rebelled. Wakeford is Bury’s most famous defector – but out in the evening light is Gareth Staples-Jones, who defected to Labour in the same week as Wakeford, though from Radcliffe First. Topics.
Born to a Labour-supporting family, he is canvassing a few streets from the paper mill where his grandfather was a wagon driver. On the corner of the street is the terrace house where his mum grew up. Gareth Staples-Jones (left) and Labour members out canvassing in Radcliffe West. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian “I get so emotional about Radcliffe,” he says. “These streets have three generations of families living on them, not many places are like this any more.
I’ve been in so many kitchens talking about things like antisocial behaviour. And I solve it that week, but then six months later the problem is back. You start to realise that people need bigger change on a national level, money, gaps in the law. That means everything round here. That’s why I made the jump to Labour.
” At each house, there is a new, diverse opinion, from full-throated Labour, to Conservative supporters, to many undecideds. Most people bring up Partygate, but often the disparaging comments seep out into general condemnation of politicians. “All the main parties irritate me,” says Sue Kagan in her neat front garden. “None of them speak for us. With Labour, it was Corbyn who did it for me.
I’ve usually vote Green as the alternative. But it does feel there is a real disconnect even more with people’s everyday struggles and politicians.” Starmer’s efforts to change the party have been noticed but many express scepticism about the Labour leader. One voter called down the drive, “tell Keir to be a bit bolder”. Another longtime Labour voter, 61-year-old Loretta Anthony, said she disliked Starmer.
“I am really wavering this time, I’m sorry to say I don’t like the guy. We really need someone with a bit of backbone, to stand up to people who say ‘oh you can’t do this or that, it’s not right’.” But Johnson is similarly unpopular. “He’s a clown.” The cost of living is the other key factor on people’s minds.
Rich Shaw, 31, is another waverer, but says he will vote next week. “I want to know exactly what each party says about getting people into work, getting good pay, good hours,” he says. There are still many staunch Labour voters, who mention a long family association. “Labour is for the working class,” Susan Henderson, a care home worker, says from her doorstep. “When Labour was in power, that’s what they were for.
The Conservatives are happy for the rich to get richer and poor to get poorer.” Bury South’s Tory MP, Christian Wakeford, has defected to Labour over growing anger with Boris Johnson. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA Staples-Jones is optimistic that the anger he is hearing on the doorstep can be channelled into positive action for change. “When you really strip down voting, it’s about an emotional decision about how people feel – and the main thing they are feeling is pissed off. They need to know there are people who understand that, who feel the same way they do and that they are going to fight for their best interests.
” He concedes his own seat hangs in the balance – but says he would not be deterred if he loses, describing a new sense of motivation among activists. “I feel excited and energised now. It’s a reawakening.” Labour are tentatively optimistic about getting a better hearing from Jewish people. A number of young Charedi families have moved into Radcliffe in recent years and Hennessy also canvasses in Prestwich, which has a large secular Jewish community.
Most people in Labour are cautious about whether Starmer has won back those who rejected the party under Corbyn. There is talk of “long Corbyn” among Jewish and “red wall” voters who disliked the previous leader. But there are small signs of progress. Hennessy estimates around 10-15 people every session – about 150 homes – are switching. Several say Wakeford has made an effort to be a voice on antisemitism, though last week he was confronted by angry voters at an event at Whitefield synagogue, who said they felt “cheated” by his defection.
But this election it is the Tories who are feeling more heat on antisemitism – two Conservative councillors have had party support withdrawn after antisemitic Facebook posts were unearthed. Several Labour activists recount how appalling the atmosphere was in 2019 among Jewish voters. “We used to get shouted off the doorstep and now we aren’t,” Staples-Jones says. “Two years out from an election, that is not such a bad place to work from.” Sign up to First Edition, our free daily newsletter – every weekday morning at 7am BST Topics .