It was always possible, I wrote a month ago, that the London elections would show voters baulking for the first time at the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn in power, especially after the protests in Westminster against anti-Semitism. That hasn’t quite happened: it seems there has been a slight swing to Labour in the capital, unlike the rest of the country. But fears of a Tory bloodbath in London – of Corbynistas and Sadiq Khan supporters painting the town red – were misplaced. The Tories have kept hold of their crown jewel boroughs: Westminster, Wandsworth, Kensington and Chelsea. Remarkably, they have even taken back control of Barnet, in north London, which one senior London Tory thought they would lose ‘undoubtedly’. He was wrong, and so was the Cabinet minister who claimed the party was ‘screwed’ in the capital.
Some are now claiming that this was all an act of ingenious expectations management on the part of the Tories. (Even Jeremy Corbyn is spinning that line.) That’s called being wise after the event. Actually, some in the Conservative party were desperately trying to be positive about their prospects in the capital, and get the Jeremiahs to shut up. As one London MP told me during the campaign: ‘I am fed up to the back teeth of the gloom and doom merchants that are saying oh, the Conservatives are going to get wiped out in London. Unfortunately if you… go around saying that, don’t be at all surprised when it comes true.’