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London Elections: Barnet


Barnet – Opportunity knocks

As the borough which had arguably the most famous Conservative Prime Minister of the late twentieth century as an MP in Margaret Thatcher, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the London Borough of Barnet has been in Conservative control for the majority of its existence and uninterrupted Conservative rule since 2002.

Prior to that point, the Liberal Democrats had a small number of seats and in the years between 1994 and 2002 held the balance of power.

The Conservatives currently enjoy a majority of 11 seats and while there will be boundary changes in the borough, the number of councillors, 63 will remain the same.

At the last two elections, there has been a straight up fight between the Conservatives and Labour with the 2018 result of 38 Conservatives and 25 Labour. However, since then, both parties have had defections to the Liberal Democrats, effectively creating the Liberal Democrat group on the council with another Conservative also becoming an independent. Whether the existence of Liberal Democrats in the borough will lead to an increase in their number at the next election remains to be seen.

However, Cratus does understand that the Labour party are targeting the borough which many believe would have been turned red in 2018 had it not been for the anti-semitism issues within the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn. Many believe that these issues have been resolved under the leadership of Sir Kier Starmer and that Barnet is in play for Labour.

However, this might be put into doubt looking at the most recent by-election results in the borough from May 2021 which saw the Conservatives win the two by-elections which took place on the same day as the London Mayoral Election. The win in Edgware ward is not a surprise given it is a safe Conservative seat, however the result in East Barnet saw the Conservatives strengthen their position, taking a seat from Labour in a key swing ward for the borough with a majority of 289.

Since then, of course, a great deal has happened at national level and therefore, one cannot take those results as an indication of what is happening on the ground at the moment.

However, what is certain is that Barnet will be a key borough to watch where the campaign will make all the difference and Labour are looking to make gains.

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