LONDON ELECTIONS 2012: Arbour retains seat but Labour vote surges in South West


Liberal Democrats suffer heavy losses as Labour move into second


By Liam Twomey, Jasmine Marsh, Freddy Mayhew and Helena Hickey, at Olympia 

VETERAN Conservative politician Tony Arbour will serve a fourth term in the London Assembly – but never before has he had to hold off such a determined Labour challenge. 

With over four decades’ experience in politics, Arbour polled 69,151 votes, beating Labour by almost 20,000 – in 2010 he won his seat with over 50% of the vote.

Labour candidate Lisa Homan was the main beneficiary, enjoying a large swing as she increased the share of the vote from 16% four years ago to nearly 30%.

Arbour’s South West constituency includes the London boroughs of Richmond upon Thames, Kingston upon Thames and Hounslow – where Liberal Democrat support traditionally pushes him closest.

Business Secretary Vincent Cable is the local MP for Twickenham – a seat he won with over 50% of the vote in 2010 – and he will be concerned to see support for his Liberal Democrats evaporate, from 26% in 2010 to just under 17%.

Arbour said: “My Lib Dem rival led a campaign based on smear and innuendo.

“They failed to stick to policies and principles and were unable to fight a good clean fight. This is why they were so unsuccessful.”

In response Lib Dem candidate Munira Wilson said: “The accusations are completely unfounded. I do not know where he pulled them from. It’s the first I’ve heard of any complaints.

“The people of London have served us a very bloody nose this time round, because of the coalition and what has been happening in government.

“Despite this, I’m pleased with how I fared. I got more votes than the Green Party, which hasn’t been the case in some constituencies.”

Arbour went on to say: “It was a very gruelling campaign, and I’m pleased to have won.

“This campaign was gruelling because it lasted such a long time.

“It was our job to ensure we got the greatest plurality possible to assist Boris Johnson. I’m glad we were able to deliver in spades.

“I think we have done extremely well, compared to what has happened with the Tory Party in the country as a whole.”

Referring back to the Lib Dems he said: “Not a single leaflet was produce by the Lib Dems which didn’t criticise me by name. The first rule of politics is never to refer to your opponent by name.

“It was absolutely appalling and typical of the Lib Dems across the country. Had they played the election in a better, more honest way, they may have done better.”

With regard for future policies, he said: “Over the next four years I want to deliver the best possible services for the lowest possible cost.

“Times are going to be very hard, and it’s our job to remove the burden from Londoners.”

Labour candidate Lisa Homan was the main beneficiary, enjoying the big gains, securing a large swing as she increased the share of the vote from 16% four years ago to  nearly 30%.

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