Liberal Democrat Linda Chung wins Hampstead Town by-election

Labour struggle after 'paper' candidate's swift resignation

Friday, 8th July — By Richard Osley

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Linda Chung was the victor in this week’s Hampstead Town by-election

LABOUR lost their council seat in Hampstead Town today (Friday) as the Lib Dems celebrated a by-electiontriumph.

Linda Chung romped to victory to return to the council chamber for a new term as a councillor. She had previously won a by-election in the same ward in 2008, the start of what turned out to be a six year spell at the Town Hall.

A well-known community campaigner, she had been unwell during May’s council boroughwide elections elections and did not put her name on the ballot paper.

But she was given a second chance to stand when Labour’s Adrian Cohen stepped down from the council just weeks after winning his party’s first ever seat in the ward on the back of surging results across London.

That victory was partly put down to the unpopularity of Boris Johnson, but although the Tories rustled up an election day leaflet reminding residents that the Prime Minister had agreed to leave Downing Street – there was no quick revival for the Conservative vote which has previously been strong in the area.


HAMPSTEAD TOWN BY-ELECTION RESULT

LINDA CHUNG (Liberal Democrats) ELECTED 919
—–
ALEX ANDREWS (Conservative) 620
ALEXANDRA SUFIT (Labour) 559
PETER MCGINTY (Green Party) 104
JONATHAN LIVINGSTONE (Independent) 44
PATRICK MCGINNIS (National Housing Party No More Refugees) 1


Labour had always known it could be a struggle on a terrain where it had no real canvassing records from previous elections and with residual frustration that Mr Cohen had stood for election but then swiftly rejected the commitment of four years of service once elected.

Their campaign had begun with an apology for the inconvenience of sending voters quickly back to the polling stations.

Linda Chung wins the Hampstead Town by-election in September 2008

Overall, anti-Johnson votes appeared to transfer to Cllr Chung’s column.

With five councillors, the Lib Dems remain dwarfed by the ruling Labour group in the council chamber but the victory consolidates their position as the official opposition in Camden – a title wrested from its traditional place with the Tories.

Cllr Chung said: “I’ve always worked hard for Hampstead. I will continue to work for Hampstead – it’s so wonderful that people have recognised this. We want to work in a constructive way with Camden  to achieve all of the things that we want to make it a fantastic, lively borough. We can make it extra special.”

He added: “My priorities are safer streets, cleaner streets – a better environment – better health facilities.”

Labour leader Councillor Georgia Gould praised candidate Alexandra Sufit for putting in a “great campaign” but admitted it was a “tough ask” to get voters to support them again so so soon after Mr Cohen’s withdrawal.

“It was really not an ideal situation – we had someone whose personal circumstances have changed – they weren’t able to take up the role,” she said. “Asking people to go out and vote so soon after the local elections was really difficult and think more than anything that was what the result was about.”

Conservative group leader Councillor Gio Spinella had blamed Boris Johnson’s unpopularity for the party’s collapse at the local authority elections in May – and on the local Tories pumped out a ‘he’s gone’ leaflet on polling day to signal a new era.

But Cllr Spinella said after candidate Alex Andrews finished second: “The fundamental dynamics and underlying factors were the same in May – and July. We had hoped to see a shift with the events of the last few days, which of course led to the famous – or infamous – leaflet on polling day, but it was too little too late. We had same kind of response on the doorstep as we did in May.”

 

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