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Swiss Cottage: Labour oust Tories with ‘grassroots campaign’

Tory finance spokesman Don Williams loses his seat

04 May, 2018 — By Richard Osley

The Swiss Cottage result is announced to scenes of Labour celebrations

LABOUR ousted the Conservatives from the Swiss Cottage ward, a key election battleground at Camden’s local elections.

The winning candidates said they had mounted a “grassroots campaign” to win in an area where Labour has not held a seat for 20 years. Supporters were already whooping with delight before council chief executive Mike Cooke had taken to the stage to announce the result at around 4am today (Friday).

Nayra Bello O’Shanahan topped the polls with 1,605 votes, closely followed by Labour’s Leo Cassarani and Simon Pearson. Their victory meant the end of the road for Don Williams, the Conservatives’ finance spokesman who has been on the council for 16 years.

Asked how they had turned Swiss Cottage red, Mr Cassarani said: “I think the residents of Swiss Cottage are sick of being taken for granted by the Tories. They’ve had the same local councillors for almost 20 years and  I think they wanted a change – and we were that change.”

He added: “We had an incredible grassroots campaign, we were out twice a day every day for the last six months, and we had an amazing organiser. We spoke to 80 percent of residents and that’s what won it. It turns out that even though the Tories spent huge amount of money flooding Swiss Cottage with their material, their manifestoes and scratchcards, actually having conversations with voters is what matters.”

Nayra Bello O’Shanahan waits nervously during the count

Ms O’Shanahan added: “We have worked so hard, canvassing hundreds of doors and talking to as many people as possible.”

Labour activists also hailed the influence of Tara Aleck, the campaign organiser in Swiss Cottage, whose name was cheered through the count centre in Swiss Cottage with a chorus of: Tara, Tara, Tara.

It was a night of disappointment for Conservative candidates Don Williams, above, and Kate Fairhurst

The Conservatives won all three seats here in 2014 but Andrew Marshall later joined the Lib Dems over Brexit and Roger Freeman had decided to step down.

Mr Williams said: “I’m disappointed but I feel we have to rebuild the party locally.”

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