Nowhere should Conservatives be more disappointed with the recent election results than in London. The capital stubbornly clung to the Labour nurse for fear of something worse.
On a night of mixed results, Labour got the most votes in London and performed far better than they did in the rest of the country. As a result, the Tories were denied marginal seats, and key councils turned red.
How did Labour manage such a good result? It is clear turnout was a crucial factor, particularly in council elections where it almost doubled. Andy Slaughter, Karen Buck and Sadiq Khan can all still call themselves MPs thanks to increases in turnout touching 10%. In all three cases, the Labour vote went up.
As one Labour activist told me, the plan was to cling on by dragging their supporters out by hook or by crook – and it worked. It seems a rising tide lifted mostly red boats. But why, in an election about ‘change’, did this benefit the incumbents?
London is generally impervious to the charms of Conservatives. Ever since 1992 London has, broadly, voted Labour. Even during bouts of deep unpopularity, their vote in London has always remained resilient.
The notable exception to this trend was the election of Boris Johnson as London Mayor. Boris succeeded in London because he was able to coax the Tory leaning suburbs out to the polls.
However, these suburbs are notoriously flaky. After all, many of them have happily returned Tory councils and Labour MPs. They also returned Ken, twice. May 6th put these swing voters – vital for a Mayoral majority – back in the red corner.