U.K. Live Updates: Conservatives Suffer Losses in Local Elections
Lucinda Leveson, 65, leaving a polling station in Wandsworth, London, on Thursday.Credit…Andrew Testa for The New York Times
LONDON — For the past 44 years, the council in Wandsworth, South London, has been run by the Conservative Party.
But after Thursday’s vote, that all changed, with control of the council shifting to the Labour Party. The vote came at a particularly fraught time for the Conservative Party, which has been embroiled in controversy for weeks over parties in Downing Street that broke the government’s own coronavirus restrictions and a number of other scandals.
As a smattering of voters headed into polling stations in the area on Thursday morning, many expressed a general discontent over the state of national politics, a glimpse of the uphill battle that the Conservatives faced in the area.
“I would have always identified myself as Conservative, but this vote today was a vote to show that I don’t agree with the government,” said Marcel Aramburo, 62, who has lived in the area for decades.
While he is happy with the way local issues have been handled for the most part under the Conservative council, he felt it was time to vote Labour after becoming increasingly disillusioned with the Tories.
“I am unhappy with the people running this country,” he said. “Everything that comes out of their mouths is a lie.”
Dean Crossley, 45, who cast his ballot at the same small community church across from Battersea Park as Mr. Aramburo, was also switching from the Conservatives, in favor of the Green party. He said that was partly because of local issues and partly because he wanted to see better initiatives to address climate change.
He also said that his vote — typically for the Conservatives — was likely to change in the next general election, too.
“It’s the same old same old, getting up to whatever they get up to, and it’s not going to work,” he said, referring to the Conservatives.
Lucinda Leveson, 65, who brought her dog to the polling station, has lived in Wandsworth for decades. She said that a lot had changed in the area, much of it for the better, as it has developed in recent years. At the end of the road where she was voting, cranes crowded the skyline over a major redevelopment project at the disused Battersea Power Station and surrounding area.
She said she would continue to support the Conservatives despite the recent scandals. “They are the best of a bad bunch,” she said.
She added that she felt Prime Minister Boris Johnson had done well in his response to the coronavirus pandemic and had shown a strong response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Another voter, Vivianna Turturro, 39, said that national politics had influenced her decisions on the local level, after watching those in the governing Conservative Party “saying one thing and doing the opposite.”
She said that she was unhappy with recent policies on immigration and that the Downing Street parties left her incensed.
“I was shielding at the time, so I find it offensive and insulting,” she said of the lockdown gatherings. “They should have been the first ones to follow the rules they set.”