LONDON ELECTION 2012: Conservative Richard Tracey celebrates narrow Merton & Wandsworth victory


Tracey retained his seat after a narrow victory over Labour’s Leonie Cooper


By SWLondoner staff

Conservative candidate Richard Tracey has retained his seat as representative for the Merton and Wandsworth constituency after a narrow victory over Labour’s Leonie Cooper, in the first London Assembly result of the day.

He defeated Cooper in 2008 with 44.9% of the vote, but his winning margin against the same candidate in this year’s contest was greatly reduced, with a 4.5% swing to Labour reported.

The news is a boost for the Conservatives, who have been suffering massive losses around the country to Labour in the local elections.

“This is the first of the results to be declared here, and I hope this will augur well for my fellow Assembly candidates in the Conservative Party,” said Tracey.

“It will be interesting to see how it finally turns out. Clearly there are one or two of my colleagues who are in danger, but it will be interesting to see what happens with the list.

Tracey, who polled 65,197 for a winning margin of 9,981, has represented the Merton and Wandsworth constituency since 2008 after succeeding former Conservative representative Elizabeth Howlett.

He was formally MP for Surbiton for 14 years and an Environment Minister in the Thatcher Government, before taking over as the Conservative representative for Merton and Wandsworth. He is a member on the Assembly Transport Committee, and the Budget Monitoring Committees.

“I want to get the issue of safer neighbourhood teams sorted out,” added Tracey.

“It’s been misrepresented by the other parties, particularly by Labour. But we have more police in Wandsworth than we’ve had for years, and Merton is the same. The other thing is going ahead with dealing with transport issues, which are my speciality.

“I want to see the Northern Line upgraded, progress on the District Line, the East London Line extension, which will come to Clapham Junction in September.

“There’s also the possibility we might get the tramlink extended to Sutton, and that’s something else that will be very good for us. We also want Boris bikes in Wandsworth and river transport.

“It’s just nice to feel I can take it forward. I’m hoping I can work even more closely with TfL. It’s an enormous beast and not always very responsive to the public, so it’s important to me that we get it sorted.”

However, the defeated Labour candidate was determined to see the positive from a much improved performance in the constituency from 2008.

“I came in as the clear underdog,” said Cooper. 

“We fought a fantastic campaign and we very nearly overturned a safe Conservative seat.

“Only last week Richard was quoted as saying ‘I’ve got a huge buffer, we’re very organised and we’re bound to win,’ well, Mr Tracey has had a bit of a wake-up call here.

“I think we’re going to win some seats. It’s going to be a good outcome for us across the board. I think Boris is going to find his new assembly quite challenging if he wins.”

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