The Kenton by-election in Brent, North London, was held by the Tories last Thursday, in spite of Labour’s national poll lead.
The local Conservative Party were successful with a “Save our Libraries” campaign.
Clegg has picked up their campaign of blaming Labour for library closures, and he’s taking it to the nation. See film.
Meanwhile, the council of David Cameron’s constituency, “which had steadfastly defended its proposal to stop funding 20 of the county’s 43 public libraries, last Tuesday deferred the decision until the summer.”
If Cameron intervened, then he did so immediately before the poll of the Brent by-election, with Clegg speaking immediately after. It was clear before the poll that the Library campaign had traction.
On arriving in Brent, I was surprised to be told that the Tories were running a “Save Our Libraries” campaign. You would have thought they’d be onto a loser with this one, but the Labour campaigners told me it had so far been effective.
I spent the day in the Indian populated part of the ward, so I didn’t see much sign of the Tories, but a couple of times I got hostility on the doorstep over the local library. They weren’t unfriendly, there was nothing personal, but of these voters were very passionate about the issue.
Premiership football fans don’t care if their club goes bankrupt; they just want the star players in their team. In this same vein, local people don’t care about the reasons; they just want to see their local library stay open.
The Labour candidate Ellie May Southwood increased the Labour vote by 2.8% while the Lib Dems collapsed. It was regarded as a safe Tory seat, so it remains “no change”.
However, there is no doubt that the local Tories did a good job of blaming the cuts on Labour. If this were to become a trend, it would be worrying.