The votes are counted and the results for Southwark Labour are truly astounding. Labour now have 48 of the 63 borough Councillors. Credit to Southwark Labour leader Peter John, thanks to agent Robert Smeath and the whole team. The effort has been astonishing - we spoke to 12,000 people in April alone. This is a superb contact rate and the whole team are owed a massive debt of gratitude from all our councillors.
In Bermondsey and Old Southwark we had 6 of 27 councillors on Wednesday. We have 16 today - winning wards not returning Labour representatives since 1982! We won three councillors in Chaucer (Karl Eastham, Vijay Luthra and Claire Maugham), Rotherhithe (Steph Cryan, Kath Whittam and Bill Williams) and South Bermondsey (Catherine Dale, Sunny Lambe and Leo Pollak). These are the first wins in these wards for decades. We kept all three in East Walworth (Rebecca Lury, Darren Merrill and Martin Seaton). We also won one in Grange ward (Lucas Green) which was not on the official targeted list.
My own ward, Newington, had two Labour councillors before the vote (and one Lib Dem). Simon Hughes threw everything at us - running what the Lib Dems called a 'decapitation strategy'. Hughes seemed to spend more time in Newington in the last four weeks than the last four years combined and apparently had a staffer working in the ward for months. I am glad he and his team made it so personal given the result.
Newington achieved the highest turnout in the constituency (40.7%) and all three Labour candidates won over 2,000 votes each - a massive win over Hughes' hand-picked Lib Dems who got around 1,000 each. The result is a solid recognition of Patrick Diamond and my work over the last four years (both for local people and for the Party, canvassing twice a month minimum) and a tribute to the fantastic campaign run by Maisie Anderson, Eleanor Kerslake and our 'committee room' chairs for election day Jane Bevis and Matt Axworthy in particular.
We not only absorbed the Lib Dem assault, but managed to contribute to other wards too - helping get frontbenchers out in Chaucer, South Bermondsey and Rotherhithe, bringing extra campaigners and literature for Grange (where we very narrowly missed winning a 2nd councillor on Thursday) and taking the national Labour team focused on former non-voters into East Walworth.
I am glad the Lib Dem strategy focusing on me has backfired - with resources they desperately needed in South Bermondsey and other wards they lost being wasted losing in Newington by 1,000 votes. Interestingly, of all the councillors who re-stood for election, Helen Hayes (Dulwich and West Norwood parliamentary candidate) and I received the largest personal votes.
I am pleased we won 10 councillors and now hold a majority in the constituency - with an estimated swing of about 8%. Bermondsey and Old Southwark has cast its verdict: Labour has won resoundingly and the negative Lib Dem campaign has backfired terribly.
The stage is now set for the general election 2015 - 348 days to go - and The Guardian has today joined those predicting a Labour win: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/may/23/liberal-democrats-local-elections-losses-parliament