Highbury Goes Green

Against the backdrop of a Labour landslide, the Greens take Highbury in a barnstorming victory

Friday, 6th May — By Anna Lamche and Charlotte Chambers


Islington’s newly-elected Green councillors 

The Greens have stormed to victory in Highbury, successfully winning all three seats in a hotly contested election battleground with Labour. 

With two new councillors, the Greens are set to become Labour’s main opposition over the next four years. Retaining her seat for the third local election in a row, Cllr Caroline Russell will be joined by new Cllrs Benali Hamdache and Ernestas Armstrong-Jegorovas in the Town Hall.

While Labour has secured a landslide victory in every other ward, Sue Lukes, Islington’s (now former) Safety Chief, has lost her seat.

“Islington voters have said quite loudly that they don’t want a one-party state,” Cllr Hamdache said. “My feet hurt from 38,000 steps – I’m incredibly grateful for the support in Highbury. We worked really hard to convey that our supermajority Labour council needs opposition.”

“The Labour machine is a big electoral beast,” Cllr Hamdache added, celebrating the work of Cllr Russell, who “has done brilliant work as the only non-Labour councillor elected.”

At 44.74 per cent, Highbury saw the highest turnout of any ward, followed closely by Tufnell Park and St Mary and St James’. On average, turnout has sat around 35 per cent. Bunhill saw the lowest turnout at 30.30 per cent.

Cllr Russell said: “I’m delighted to have colleagues – I’ve had 8 years on my own. It’s been a huge effort and I’m so proud of the trust the people have put in us. They’ve come out in their thousands to vote and have overwhelmingly put their trust in us.”

Cllr Russell said goodbye to Cllr Lukes, who has been a colleague in Highbury East (now Highbury) since 2018. “It’s a really grim process,” Cllr Russell said. “It’s brutal and we’ve lost a candidate, Katie Dawson, [in the past] – we know how tough it is to lose a seat, but I’m really glad to have three Green councillors with me.”

Caroline Russell said her party had been Labour’s top challenger since 2010. Since the Lib Dems lost control of the council in 2010, Cllr Russell said the party had not posed a serious threat to Labour.

On the count floor, Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn congratulated Cllr Russell and told her he worked well with the Green Party’s only sitting MP, Caroline Lucas.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party held Tufnell Park ward, another key Green battleground. Green candidate Devon Osborne won 1604 votes, trailing Cllr Gulcin Ozdemir with a vote margin of just 124.

“Devon will be a councillor one day,” Cllr Russell said. Cllr Hamdache added: “She’s exactly what councils need, a working-class young woman.”

Cllr Russell puts their defeat in Tufnell Park down to “time,” pointing out she won her seat by only eight votes the first time she was elected. This time around, Cllr Russell picked up 2282 – the most votes in her ward, and one of the largest takings in the borough.

“We were able to build on my reputation as an effective ward councillor,” she said.

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