Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Defection Watch: Labour Meltdown in Barking

Cllr Tariq Saeed
Another two councillors have left the ruling Labour group on Barking and Dagenham Council in the last two days.  Cllr Tariq Saeed (Abbey ward) has defected rightwards to UKIP, while Cllr Barry Poulton (Thames ward) has defected leftwards to the Socialist Labour Party.

Labour managed a clean sweep of all 51 seats in Barking and Dagenham in 2010, but through a series of defections since then the combined opposition has grown from zero to eight councillors - UKIP are the largest opposition group now with four members, the Socialist Labour Party are up to two, with one Conservative and one Independent both also sitting on the council.

Both Saeed and Poulton have highlighted their unhappiness with the direction of the Labour Party as a whole for their defections, although it is interesting the different directions that dissatisfied Labour councillors are splitting off into in this council area.

Cllr Barry Poulton
As a former BNP hotspot, UKIP must be betting on being able to capitalise on local opposition to immigration to be able to gain seats in May, and Barking and Dagenham probably is their best bet for a significant breakthrough on a London borough council.  The Socialist Labour Party have a less clear electoral strategy, although with two ex-Labour councillors now sitting for them here, and presumably both planning to defend their seats in May, they too may be able to organise some regional support for a decent campaign here.  Their party leader Arthur Scargill lives in central London, and will presumably put in an appearance.

However, with Labour having pulled off a clean sweep here in 2010, and with polls generally showing them in a better position now compared to then, there is every chance of another Labour clean sweep coming in May.  Saeed's Abbey ward is particularly safely Labour with 67.1% of the vote last time to the second-placed Conservatives' 13.2%.   Thames ward was a little more marginal by the monolithically Labour standards of Barking and Dagenham with a Labour vote of 49.4% to a second-placed BNP's 17.1%.  Neither ward has history of UKIP or Socialist Labour candidates though, so further speculation on electoral chances would have no basis.

New council composition - 
Labour - 43 (-2)
UKIP - 4 (+1)
Socialist Labour - 2 (+1)
Conservative - 1
Independent - 1

No comments:

Post a Comment