Hounslow Borough Election Analysis
Ward by ward run down suggests election could be close
A comprehensive analysis of Hounslow Borough on a ward by ward basis suggests that the result could be more in the balance than other pundits have predicted.
The London Communications Agency in a recent study of London's boroughs predicted that Hounslow was likely to remain under Labour control with an outside chance of switching to no overall control.
However, since their analysis was published the candidates list has been published revealing what appears to be some co-ordination between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives not to split the opposition vote in key marginal wards. Each party seems to have decided to field only one candidate in wards which the other is targeting.
In addition there have been a number of defections from the Labour party amongst Councillors who have not been re-selected to contest their seats. The opposition will be hoping that they will be successful in splitting the Labour vote.
Our analysis ranks the wards in the borough by the size of the majority of the sitting councillors. The assumption is that there is a uniform swing. This allows a prediction to be made as to which wards the opposition need to win to end Labour's control or win overall control of the Council. Obviously local factors may mean that the changes in votes for individual parties differs from ward to ward. In this analysis we have assumed that Labour retake the seats which they won with large majorities in 2002 but from which their Councillors subsequently defected.
This means that the key ward for the opposition would be Hanworth Park. Assuming Labour lost all the seats in the borough with a smaller majority that this one, the opposition would just need to take one seat in the ward to mean that the Council was under no-overall control. If this was the final result the Council could be controlled by a coalition of the the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and the Isleworth Community Group. The only other likely combination is a Lib-Lab pact. Ken Livingstone has called Lib Dems to end their alliance with the Conservatives within London and work with Labour to reflect the capital 'progressive majority' of voters. He said it was time to reflect an 'anti-tory majority' implying that voting Lib Dem would let in the Conservatives
In the Brentford, Isleworth and Chiswick wards most of the sitting councillors enjoy sizeable majorities and it would take significant swing to for them to change hands. Syon ward however will be very closely fought. Labour held on with a slim majority last time. The Isleworth Community Group came second last time out but the Conservatives will also be hoping to win the seat with the Liberal Democrats not fielding a full slate of candidates.
Feltham West is a key ward if the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives win all the seats with smaller majorities than this one. They would need just one ward here to have joint overall control of the Council. If the Isleworth Community Group win in Syon then the Tories would need to take Feltham West and one seat in Heston Central to control the Council jointly with the Liberal Democrats.
For the Conservatives to take overall control of the borough they would have to go deep into Labour held territory. Assuming they win Syon and all the other wards with majorities of less than 20%, then their next targets are likely to be Heston East, Hounslow South or Brentford. In the first two the Labour vote may be split by dissident members of the Labour party who are standing as independent Councillors. In Heston East the Conservatives will be encouraged by a by-election in 2004 where they reduce the Labour majority to 11.6% With the Liberal Democrats not putting up a full list of candidates the aim appears to be to concentrate the opposition vote.
April 29, 2006