London party

London Tory candidates are running as ‘local Tories’ in election in bid to hijack party door

Conservative election candidates are trying to distance themselves from the Prime Minister’s ‘partygate’ scandal, it has been suggested (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

More than 400 London Tories will stand as ‘local Tories’ in the upcoming election in what has been described as a bid to distance themselves from the woes of the National Party.

Dozens of potential Birmingham candidates will also be listed under the tag on the May 5 ballot for the first time.

Tories in seven London boroughs have added ‘Local’ to their party name as they seek to stop voters talking about the various scandals the government and Prime Minister have been embroiled in over the past year, it was suggested.

Director of LSE London, Professor Tony Travers, said: “It’s no surprise that with all that’s going on in the national party and the government’s confidence rating, local candidates are struggling to distance themselves from the image of the national party.

“It is the start of a popular realization that the Tory name may be a problem in London and that a separate identity would make it easier for Tory candidates to win.”

Local elections take place on May 5 (ES)

Local elections take place on May 5 (ES)

Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond told The Standard: “Partygate comes to the door, not all the time, but often in middle-class neighborhoods.

“There is some truth in the fact that local candidates want to distance themselves from what is happening within the national party.

“To say ‘this is a local election on local issues’. They are certainly very keen to focus on what is happening with their council and not with the party.

Conservative Party headquarters said the description “local conservative” had been used and recorded for ballot papers since 2007 and did not require party approval.

But this is the first time that the label has been widely used in the capital and in entire districts.

In Croydon, where the Labour-led council was forced to declare bankruptcy in 2020, Tory candidates added ‘Local’ in front of their party name on the ballet.

The borough will vote for the first time in May for an elected mayor. Conservative mayoral candidate Jason Perry denied there was a coordinated attempt by the boroughs.

He said: “I can only speak for Croydon but we wanted to focus on local issues and we are the local candidates. In Scotland and Wales they add that to the name.

“What’s going on with [the national party] arrives a little on the doorstep. But that’s mainly what happens in Croydon.

In London, Barking and Dagenham, Merton, Croydon, Wandsworth, Camden, Ealing and Sutton, voters will see all ‘local Conservatives’ listed on the ballot instead of the ‘Conservative Party candidate’.

Former Labor Secretary and MP for Warley John Spellar told The Standard: “I’ve never seen it before. This is just an attempt at a brand change and an obvious backlash against the national party among some conservatives.

“A desperate attempt to distance themselves from Boris Johnson and the Partygate scandal.”

More than 5,000 council seats are up for election in 197 councils across Britain on May 5.

Activists in Trory told The Standard on Wednesday that the partygate scandal was being felt on their doorstep, particularly in London.

Campaigners are finding disgruntled voters are considering switching to another party or staying at home, after Downing Street party fury was reignited with Boris Johnson fined £50 for breaking the laws of Covid with a birthday party at No 10.

A poll by two companies suggested the Conservatives could lose up to 800 seats in the vote.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said on Thursday: ‘May 5 is the poll we should quote.’

“I was with campaigners in Wandsworth a few weeks ago and on the doorstep what people are talking about is the low Council Tax paid in Wandsworth compared to Lambeth and Merton and d ‘other Labour-led boroughs,’ he told Sky News.

“Ultimately people choose who they want to lead in their region based on service delivery and value for money.”