What’s red and red, and red all over? Islington – bar one opposition slither

Labour crushes rivals in epic landslide polls win

Friday, 13th May — By Anna Lamche

Labour group

Labour councillors celebrate another landslide victory

LABOUR secured yet another landslide victory in the council elections – winning 48 of the 51 available seats in the Town Hall chamber.

While the Greens saw more councillors returned in the Highbury ward, this was the only resistance to the construction of a fresh super majority.

In every boroughwide election in Islington since 2014, Labour has secured over 90 per of the seats.

Hillrise councillor Dave Poysor won more votes than any candidate standing for election with a score of 2,453.

He joked he was Islington’s “most popular” man, but the scale of his success also served as a further illustration of how far Labour was ahead.

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, the Labour leader of Islington Council, put the gigantic win down to “a really clear manifesto”.

She said the fact that Labour now had 48 – rather than the pre-election total of 45 – councillors in the chamber is “a clear demonstration of an effective [local] campaign”.

She added: “In a national context, when you look at the cost of living that’s really affecting people, that did come up on the doorstep.

Arsenal ward’s Fin Craig, Bashir Ibrahim and Roulin Khondoker

“They wanted a local council that they knew would do everything in their power to support them.

“In the context of mismanagement of national government [the cost of living crisis] is deeply concerning for people.”

Of the Green advance, she said the opposing party’s “narrative” of being “an opposition” to Labour “was clearly effective” in Highbury.

But in her victory speech in the Sobell Centre on Friday, she was defiant and said: “We’ll have three back in Highbury in 2026.”

Asked if the results were an endorsement of Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership, Cllr Comer-Schwartz said: “I definitely would say that they’re an endorsement of the Labour Party.

“Both our Labour MPs backed our manifesto. It’s rooted in the Labour movement, so it’s definitely an endorsement of that.”

From Barnsbury ward: Praful Nargund, Jilani Chowdhury and Rowena Champion

Next on the agenda are “750 new homes, a laptop for every Year 7 child that needs it, and 600 additional trees a year,” Cllr Comer-Schwartz said, along with putting £10million into retrofitting council homes.

The results in Islington follow a pattern of Labour victories across the capital, as the Tories lost their traditional strongholds in Westminster, Barnet and Wandsworth.

A lot has changed since the last election, when then-leader of the council Richard Watts dismissed the “unrealistic” prospect of winning these boroughs.

The results saw Islington’s Conservatives and Liberal Democrats locked out of power for another four years, although Kate Pothalingham, the Lib Dem candidate for St Mary’s and St James’ ward, lost out on a seat by a vote margin of just 112.

“It’s disappointing to have come so close,” Ms Pothalingham said.

“We’re disappointed but not disheartened.”

The Lib Dems, who until 2010 were in control of the council, have failed to gain a single seat since losing their last councillor in 2014.

Claire Zammit, Jason Jackson and Diarmaid Ward

Ms Pothalingham has said the results in her ward “show we had a powerful message,” and that she hopes the slate of new councillors will allow the council to have “a slight recalibration”.

She said: “All of the issues raised during the campaign continue to be issues now.

“The problems didn’t disappear on May 5. LTNs [low traffic neighbourhoods], littering, the Edmonton incinerator – these issues weren’t solved by the election.

“I’d love to see Labour work for the votes they’ve got.”

The Conservatives, who once again ran with a full slate of candidates, failed to win a single seat.

Council leader Kaya Comer-Schwartz (right), with fellow ward councillors Janet Burgess (left) and Sheila Chapman

Will Woodroofe, who took 446 votes in St Mary’s and St James’ ward, said Labour had lost “about 6 per cent of their vote share,” down from 60.6 per cent in 2018 to 52.4 per cent this year.

Mr Woodroofe said the results showed “a pretty clear decline in the Labour vote”.

He said his party “wasn’t getting barraged” on the doorstep by criticism of the national government, adding he was very proud of his team.

He said: “We’re not disappearing, we’re happy we went up and we can see that things are starting to shift.”

Next up for Labour, Cllr Comer-Schwartz will have to select a new safety chief after Sue Lukes was among the Labour losers in Highbury, and announce her top table cabinet for the coming year.

The Greens meanwhile responded to the results with a call for electoral reform.

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