Catherine West says Liberal Democrats failed Hornsey and Wood Green
PUBLISHED: 14:38 08 May 2015 | UPDATED: 09:24 09 May 2015
Most people predicted that Labour’s Catherine West would take Hornsey and Wood Green from the Liberal Democrats, but nobody expected her to return such a huge majority – not least West herself.
She romped home with 50.9 per cent of the vote, giving her a majority of 11,058, marking a 16.9 per cent swing to Labour from the Liberal Democrats.
“I actually did think it was going to be closer,” she says. “But it does indicate not only the way we’ve run this campaign, but the level of engagement that we’ve had.
“I think it’s the themes we’ve campaigned on,” she adds. “A London living wage; addressing the housing crisis; the break-up of the NHS and attendant problems, around waiting times.
“We’ve campaigned on the bedroom tax, an issue that really affects a lot of people with disabilities.
“There are a number of things that really resonate with local people and I’m really pleased that we seem to have come through.”
West’s victory was a chink of light for Labour in an otherwise dark night, which triggered Ed Miliband’s resignation as leader after the party conceded all but one seat in Scotland, and lost out to the Tories across the country, including in Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls’ former Morley and Outwood constituency.
Labour fared better in London than elsewhere in the country, with David Lammy returing the biggest Labour majority on record in neighbouring Tottenham, Neil Coyle deposing Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes who had held Bermondsey and Old Southwark for 32 years, and Wes Streeting defying expectations in Ilford North by overturning a Conservative majority of more than 5,000.
West attributes the party’s success in the capital to a different style of campaigning.
“I think the way we campaign in London is very fresh,” she says.
“We have a lot of young people involved, and older people.
“We had a broad-based strategy around conversations – talking to people and connecting with the community.
”Policy conversations we’ve had played a real role in winning the seat back.”
West’s success was also down to a national swing against the Liberal Democrats, who, with just one constituency in the country left to declare, have so far lost 48 seats, and are predicted to lose a 49th, leaving them with just eight MPs, and seeing them fall from the third placed party and a coalition government partner, to only the joint fourth largest party in the UK, along with the DUP.
The Lib Dems’ crushing defeat saw Lynne Featherstone deafeated in Hornsey and Wood Green, a seat she held with a 6,875 majority, and led to Nick Clegg resigning as party leader.
“In 2010 people thought they were choosing a progressive alternative to Labour,” West says. “Shortly after 2010 we found that the Lib Dems and the Tories were really indistinguishable, and I don’t think people here really voted for those kinds of policies.
”The Lib Dems failed this constituency, and you can see that in other seats as well, like Bermondsey.”
But now that the battle is won, West has vowed not to rest on her laurels.
“I’ll be arranging my first advice surgery for within the week,” she says. “Probably next Friday.”
But, West says she will first be cracking open the bottle of champagne given to her by a family member.
“I’ll be having a champagne breakfast tomorrow,” she said, speaking after the results were announced at Alexandra Palace.
“But it does feel awkward [celebrating] with some of the results we’ve had tonight, some really difficult ones.”