Lessons for Guildford from Worthing
It hasn’t made the national news, but there was a small earthquake in Sussex last week when Labour’s Vicki Wells won a byelection in Marine Ward, Worthing. The result means that the Tories lose control of Worthing Council for the first time ever. The council is now tied with both Conservatives and Labour on 17 councillors and the LibDems left with just 2. Labour are understandably confident that at the next borough elections they will take control of Worthing.
When Beccy Cooper won a byelection in June 2018, she was the first Labour councillor elected in Worthing for over 40 years. Back in 2015 the council had 30 Tories, 6 LibDems and 2 UKIP. Worthing shows that in traditional Tory areas where the LibDems have been seen as the main opposition and anti-Tory party, Labour can win and win quickly.
The demographics of our politics is changing rapidly. Southern Tory voters have been horrified by the transformation of the Tory party in recent years while Labour voters from London arrive in Surrey every week, transforming the electorate in terms of age and education. Areas like Guildford and Woking are now looking like prime Labour territory.
So every time anyone says Labour can’t win in Guildford, point them towards Worthing. Nothing can be taken for granted any more.