Shock polling suggests that the Conservatives are on course to lose control of Wandsworth Council at the local elections the first time since 1978.
A MRP poll carried out by Pollster Find Out Now and Electoral Calculus has predicted that on 5th May the Tories will lose 800 councillors and 20 councils in England, including control of Wandsworth.
The council is on a knife-edge, with the Conservatives holding 33 of the 60 seats and Labour 26, with some council wards determined by fewer than 100 or even fewer than 10 votes.
The Conservatives will be particularly anxious as the winning margins in Earlsfield, Nightingale and Shaftesbury wards were particularly tight, although a boundary review means the wards have since changed.
On the other hand, Labour held on to the Bedford ward seat in November by just one vote.
Labour campaigners are trying to capitalise by focusing on the cost of living crisis.
Wandsworth Labour have argued that under the Conservatives, residents have had the worst fall in living standards in decades and have said that in Government, Labour would tackle eye-watering energy bills by taxing profits of oil and tax companies whilst scrapping the planned National Insurance rise.
Meanwhile, the Conservatives have pointed to Wandsworth’s low council tax rates compared to surrounding Labour-run councils as reason to keep the council blue come May.
Responding to the polling David Jones, group agent of Group Agent of Wandsworth and Wimbledon Conservative Group, said: “We are campaigning on our four-decades long record.
“The fact we are debt free, unlike neighbouring Labour-run councils, means every penny gets spent on service provision.
“The fact that all of our housing stock meets the decent homes standard, unlike our neighbouring boroughs. The fact we have more electric vehicle charging points than even Wales.
“The fact we have maintained a weekly bin collection, when the vast majority of councils are moving to fortnightly or more.
“And the fact we were the only council in London to cut council tax this year – in stark contrast to the Labour Mayor of London who raised his share by an eye popping 8.8%.”
Labour are also hoping that the fallout from Partygate will lead to voters abandoning the Tories at the ballot box in May.
On 13th April it was revealed the both the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak had received fixed penalty notices from the Metropolitan Police for attending an illegal Birthday gathering for Johnson in Downing Street in June 2020.
Commenting on the scandal, Putney MP Fleur Anderson said: “Both Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak repeatedly lied to the British public, to Parliament, and to bereaved families.
“It is now clear that they both broke the law and it is time for them to take accountability for their actions and resign.”
On Twitter, Wandsworth Labour shared a graphic stating that “293 people died from Covid in Wandsworth in 2020 while Boris Johnson partied in his garden”.
Wandsworth Labour leader Simon Hogg said: “We are working hard to earn the votes of people across Wandsworth.
“Lots of Conservative voters are concerned about how badly Boris Johnson is doing his job. People are responding well to our plan to keep the same low council tax, with better local services.”
Jones is confident that Conservative campaigners will be able to reorient voters’ minds away from their scandal afflicted Prime Minister, and instead focus on the Tory record in Town Hall.
He said: “Of course, we encounter some voters who want to talk about national issues, or what they have read in the paper that morning.
“But once we remind them that this election is about local issues – who runs their Town Hall, sets their council tax rates, and runs their libraries and leisure centres – we often get an affirmative nod, and a pledge to vote for us locally.”
The fate of Wandsworth Council, among others, may be pivotal for the survival of Boris Johnson’s premiership, with many Conservative backbenchers in Parliament growing particularly anxious following months of controversy within Downing street.
Last month Wandsworth Council were forced to apologise after resident’s voting data was erroneously sent to 43,000 residents.