On May 3rd, the result for Labour was disappointing. Yes the result was the better than 2014, yes we overall did make gains, but we fell short of meeting our targets, losing seats in Swindon, Barnet, Wandsworth that we needed in order to take control of those councils. We can play the blame game and point the finger at who was responsible. In Barnet it was undoubtedly the Labour Party leadership's lack of action against anti-Semitism. We can reflect on the results by looking at where we lost, but we can also look at where Labour won and won big. Here in Redbridge, we made the most gains against the Tories of any local Labour party anywhere in the country, so let's have a look at how we did it.
Across London, Labour achieved a respectable 3.1% swing against the Tories, in Redbridge it was 10.5%.
Party 2014 2018 Change
Labour 47.0% 58.3% +11.3%
Conservative 34.4% 35.2% +0.8%
Others 18.6% 6.5% -12.1%
Swing (Conservative to Labour): 10.5%
The swing varied from as much as a 27.6% swing in the new Ilford Town ward, where the Conservatives made national news headlines for delivering leaflets titled 'What We've Done For Ward/Area Name', to a swing of 8.2% towards the Tories in Fairlop ward, which had a very high UKIP vote last time round in 2014.
A STRONG TRACK RECORD
Redbridge had the unique starting point of having three out of four Labour Members of Parliament. We bucked the trend before when we gained the seat of Ilford North from the Conservatives in 2015 on a night that Labour lost seats across the country. With a re-election campaign that attracted over a thousand activists in 2017, we have a strong culture of campaigning. Local residents expect to see us at their doorstep outside of election time.
BOOTS ON THE GROUND
Central to our success in Redbridge was our ground campaign. Hundreds of activists knocked on doors, phone-called voters and ran street stalls. There were eight key battleground wards where both Labour and the Conservatives focussed their energy and targeted during the 2018 campaign. In each one, we made more contacts than the Conservatives, talking with voters and addressing their concerns. The Tories tried but were unable to emulate this to the same degree as Labour. At the end of the campaign, Labour increased its seats in these wards from 7 to 20 seats, with the Tories' being reduced from 14 to only 4 seats, 3 of which they gained from the Lib-Dems, whose vote completely collapsed. There was a substantial swing to Labour in every ward.
MOMENTUM OF ANOTHER KIND
Unlike most boroughs in London, Redbridge does not have an established local Momentum group, and unlike many boroughs, including Barnet and Wandsworth, where we fell short on polling day, there were no 'Unseat Days' hosted by Owen Jones in Redbridge. The Labour team ran a focussed and integrated campaign based on Labour party values and local issues affecting people in the borough. There was no rhetoric of 'unseating' and none of our candidates ran their campaign on a bespoke platform. We worked together as a team, thus our message was clear to voters.
TURNOUT, TURNOUT, TURNOUT
In Redbridge, there was a stark choice between a Labour administration that would invest in local services and a Tory administration that would support the government that is cutting public services to the bone.
On the doorstep, we made clear to voters that their vote was important and this message resonated. We made efforts to reach out to every voter and remind them to register to vote. Despite predictions by the leader of the Redbridge Conservative Group of a massive plunge in turnout and a reduced Labour vote due to the introduction of IER, which makes it more difficult to register to vote and disproportionately disenfranchises young people and ethnic minorities, voters turned out out in even larger numbers than 2014.
Redbridge has a well established Young Labour group, Redbridge Young Labour, which fielded three new candidates in 2018, two of which in Tory held wards. In both of these wards, Redbridge Young Labour and London Young Labour organised dozens of campaign days, welcoming activists travelling from as far as Oxfordshire to go to the doorsteps and campaign for our young candidates. On polling day, members of the committee of Redbridge Young Labour campaigned in six of the eight battleground wards. Vanisha Solanki, Hannah Chaudhry and Daniel Morgan-Thomas were all elected. Young people came out to support young candidates who they could be confident would represent their issues in the Council chamber.
*All statistics derived from or calculated based on publically available information. Swings calculated based upon projections where boundary changes have taken place