Labour are targeting education secretary Justine Greening’s seat after the Conservative party suffered a reduced majority in a Putney Council by-election yesterday.
John Locker won the Thamesfield ward by-election by 800 votes, but a 5% Labour swing sees the Conservative lead slashed by almost half since the last Borough election in 2014.
Mr Locker joins two other Conservative councillors in the traditionally Tory ward, but Labour’s resurgence will be a cause for concern for Putney, Roehampton and Southfields MP and education secretary Ms Greening.
The by-election took place after the death of Mayor and councillor Jim Maddan.
Labour’s Thamesfield candidate Sally Warren, who took 1,101 votes, said: “I’m of course disappointed not to have been elected, but this swing is encouraging and shows that traditional Tory voters are disillusioned and angry at the Government’s handling of Brexit and the Tory administration in the Town Hall”
Despite collecting 1,910 votes, Labour’s swing sees the Conservative’s lead in the ward slashed to 800 votes, down from almost 1500 in 2014.
With upcoming elections in May 2018, Labour will sense an opportunity to retake the seat they last held in 2005.
In this year’s general election Ms Greening’s majority was cut from 10,180 to 1,154, and a 2% Labour swing is all it will take for her to lose the seat she has held for the last 12 years.
The by-election saw a 32% turnout – down from 37.5% in 2014, but Mr Locker’s fellow Thamesfield councillor Mike Ryder was quick to congratulate his new colleague.
He said: “Jim Maddan was a true champion of Putney, and I am delighted the voters have chosen John to succeed him.
“He will bring energy and enthusiasm and experience to the role, and I am absolutely delighted for him.”
Mr Locker also paid tribute to Mr Maddan, and said he hoped to live up to his high standards of service in the community.
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