Harrington: Did I tell you my aunt lived in constituency?

Friday, 27th May

Gordon Nardell and Nickie Aiken

Nickie Aiken triumphs in Two Cities in 2019

AS Labour try to get accustomed to life as the bosses of Westminster City Council, Harrington wonders if Two Cities MP Nickie Aiken is thanking her lucky stars that she got out when she did.

The last-but-one Tory leader of the council, her upgrade to the House of Commons could not have come at a more useful moment. She has not had to suffer the sting of being in charge when the brown blancmange hit the fan.

But does Labour’s surge to victory in the council stakes give us any clue as to what may happen at the next general election?

Of course, any Tory on defensive duty worth their salt will tell you that all elections are different and that a larger turnout for a national ballot will bring out more of their natural supporters living in the borough.

It’s strange how many people see the need to vote over who runs the country but won’t take five minutes out of their time to think about who should be governing the streets around them.

Anyhow, Two Cities (the Cities of London and Westminster): former Tory MP Mark Field once enjoyed the cushion of a majority of 10,000 but Ms Aiken had to work a little harder last time and came home with a lead of 3,953 over Liberal Democrat candidate Chuka Umunna.

You don’t see ol’ Chuka on many Lib Dem street stalls these days – and with his alleged star quality now gone, Labour will claim that they are the main opposition in that constituency should a general election be called.

The battle would be under a new political map due to proposed boundary changes, however, and Ms Aiken may benefit from getting more to the west and less from the east: the suggested constituency name change is “Westminster and Chelsea East”.

Even so, there are Labour activists who say nothing should be ruled out in London now impossible things have been made possible.

It’s also worth noting that even with boundary changes, pollsters Electoral Calculus say their research shows Labour would still be in line to win the seay – if there was a big GE tomorrow.

So much could happen before then – look how quickly Boris Johnson’s huge lead has appeared to disintegrate in the polls. It could swing the other way too.

But the rosier prospects for Labour, Harrington hears, have lead to campaigners from all over central and north London lingering longer and making contacts; finding ways that their long lost aunts once walked through the area.

When Labour opens its candidate search, no longer will possible candidates need persuading to stand.

A greasy queue is forming already.

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