Labour has good reason to worry in the lead-up to the expected second by-election in Thornton ward, after the Liberal Democrats emerged as a strong challenger in the vote on 7th February.
Thornton voters registered their discontent with Labour both nationally and locally in the by-election caused by resignation of Labour Councillor Jane Edbrooke. The Liberal Democrats achieved a 21% swing from Labour, to secure 32.8% of the vote.
“Lambeth Labour is on notice," Helen Thompson, Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Streatham Constituency, said. "This is a wake-up call to Labour in remain-voting areas of London that their usual supporters will abandon them in droves if they continue to help deliver Tory Brexit.
"Over the last six weeks I’ve spoken to many people, including Labour Party members, who said they can’t vote Labour because Labour has failed the country on Brexit. People are sick of Corbyn’s leadership and want a final say on the Brexit deal.”
At the same time, hundreds of Thornton voters backed the Liberal Democrat campaign to save Lambeth’s children’s centres. Labour-run Lambeth council has announced plans to close five centres, including the Weir Link Children’s Centre in Thornton ward, and cut services at seven more.
Rebecca Macnair, the Liberal Democrat candidate in Thornton, said: “Liberal Democrats believe that children’s centres are a vital resource for our local communities. They play a central role in breaking negative cycles - they combat isolation in new parents, reduce inequalities in child development and school readiness, and contribute to good health and social development.
"We understand that the council is under financial pressure, but these services must be top priority for protection. The result in Thornton shows that the local community here agrees with us, and Labour must reverse their plans to cut children’s services.”
Thornton voters will have another chance to demand better in the near future, as former Lambeth Labour leader Lib Peck steps down to take up a new job at City Hall. As Peck is also a Thornton councillor, her resignation will cause a second by-election, which is expected to be announced soon.