As the political lead for Labour in the Old Bexley and Sidcup By-election I have spent a large part of my time over the last month out on the doorstep in this traditionally conservative heartland. And the response on the doorstep during this campaign has been fascinating.
We came across numerous voters telling us that they are fed up with being taken for granted, fed up with being told to live by a set of rules that is ignored by the Government and fed up with the Tory sleaze scandal.
This has led to a large number of Conservatives no longer wanting to support this Government and even a number committing to give their support to Labour instead. Serious times call for serious leadership and it’s clear that people are ready to give Labour and Keir Starmer a hearing. And this is reflected in the result.
Last week we achieved a fantastic 10.3% swing to Labour, slashing the Tory majority from nearly 19,000 to 4,478. If this swing was replicated at a general election it would put us within reach of forming a majority government.
This is a really encouraging result especially in the context that this constituency is a safe Conservative seat that has never been held by Labour and nor do we have any Labour Councillors there. The result is also testament to the brilliant work of our local candidate, Daniel Francis, who campaigned tirelessly to get our message out.
And this result just goes to show that amongst the Conservatives core voters’ faith is being lost. Whether it’s the broken manifesto promises, lies or the sleaze that has emerged, voters are cottoning on to this Government’s incompetence and that it’s one rule for Government Ministers and their associates and another for everyone else.
This has been reflected in the billions of pounds of taxpayer money handed to their mates and donors, Tory MPs getting rich by working as lobbyists and missing votes to be in the Caribbean advising tax havens instead of representing their constituents.
Recently in Parliament Labour put forward a plan of action to clean up politics and strengthen standards with a vote for an investigation into the sleaze scandal and to end paid directorships and commercial consultancies for sitting MPs.
Instead of backing this and taking the first steps to clean up our politics the Prime Minister whipped his MPs against this plan. We need a Government that governs in the public interest, not their own personal interest. But it’s increasingly clear the latter is more the case.
Taking Old Bexley and Sidcup was not a prospect for us, but the big swing to Labour that we achieved shows that even for Tory heartland voters this shambles of a Government is not delivering and that there is a path for Labour to form the next Government.