Labour can take Tory 'crown jewel' councils next year, says Sadiq Khan

Sadiq Khan expects Labour to wrest control of long-held Conservative councils in the capital in next year’s local elections, pledging that there is “no corner of London where Labour can’t win”.

The mayor of London will say his party’s aim is to capture the Tory “crown jewels” of Wandsworth – known for its historically low council tax – and Barnet, once dubbed “Easycouncil” for its mass outsourcing of services.

In a speech at London Labour’s conference on Saturday, Khan will say he will make Brexit the cornerstone of the campaign, as well as air quality, police cuts and affordable housing.

Labour will hope to capitalise on a strong general election earlier this year, which was partly attributed to the city’s staunch remain vote.

Barnet’s MPs are all Conservatives and two – Matthew Offord and Theresa Villiers – backed Brexit despite the borough voting 60% in favour of remain.

The council’s OneBarnet outsourcing programme, adopted in 2013, has been highly controversial. It involves outsourcing care in areas such as disability care, legal services, parking, cemeteries, crematoriums and trading standards. Activists failed in a high court challenge to a 10-year outsourcing contract with Capita worth £474m.

Wandsworth, where Labour has three MPs, has an even longer association with Conservative politics; the council was last won by Labour in 1974, with Tories surviving even after the Labour landslide of 1997 under Tony Blair.

However, June’s result – when the Conservative treasury minister Jane Ellison was swept out of her Battersea seat after a 10% swing to Labour – has given local activists grounds for optimism.

“There is now no corner of London where Labour can’t win – and with enough hard work we can challenge the Tories even in their crown jewels of Wandsworth and Barnet,” Khan will tell the conference.

“Labour in London is going from strength to strength. Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, we achieved the best results in London since 2001 in this year’s general election.

“However, Londoners that desperately need Labour in power across London cannot afford for us to be complacent about the upcoming local elections. That’s why we must keep taking the fight to the Tories – who are weaker and more divided than ever – and I pledge to lead Labour members in that fight.”

Khan will say that the prospect of a hard Brexit is “letting down Londoners” as well as highlight cuts to police funding, which has led to station closures.

The mayor of London, who has been critical of Corbyn in the past, will underline again the need for his party to take power. “As we have shown in City Hall, Labour in power can change lives for the better,” he will say. “If Labour can win control of more councils, we can truly transform the lives of Londoners.”

Labour is set to hold its biggest ever campaign day on Saturday, with events in 555 constituencies across the country. Shadow cabinet ministers including Debbie Abrahams, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Emily Thornberry will host events in some marginal constituencies, including the Conservative-held Calder Valley, Southport and Colchester.

The Labour leader is set to attend the party’s south-west regional conference, where he will announce new analysis showing the average worker will be £2,257 worse off by 2022 because of wage growth forecasts being downgraded.

“To put it another way: for the last three weeks of that financial year, everybody on the ‘national living wage’ in Britain will effectively be working for free as they are denied the earnings previously expected,” he will say.

“It is frankly astonishing that anybody could have the cheek to claim we have a strong economy, when most people are losing and not gaining income.”

Powered by article was written by Jessica Elgot Political reporter, for on Saturday 25th November 2017 09.03 Europe/ © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010