This morning I saw a local Conservative and asked his opinion. He asked me not to name him, but he stated "It's this parking business, if we don't do something soon I think we'll be finished". He declined to name and blame Brian Coleman, but he added "we can't ignore the plight of local business any longer. We've taken our eye off the ball". With that he bode me good day and trudged off.
I've just spoken to a local Labour activist and the message there is interesting. They now believe that Brian Colemans GLA seat is there for the taking. They are taking nothing for granted, because they realise that locally many Conservatives will turn up for Boris. What is clear though, is that normally loyal Tories who turn out come rain or shine didn't.
Local Tory commentators have tried to put a good spin on the result. They claim that Labour vote was also down from the 2010 elections. What they don't say is that Labour actually polled more votes at the by-election than the 2006 council elections. 2010 had a huge turnout, due to the Council elections being fought on the same day as a general election. This obscured local issues and distorted the polling figures. Perhaps a truer picture of the ward is the 2006 Council elections. Then Labour polled 1852 votes. As there was a full council election, with far more press coverage, locally and nationally, to poll 2,110 votes yesterday was certainly an indication that the people want to send the local Conservatives a message.
I have been asked by a local Conservative voter who has had enough to suggest that Loyal Tories who have had enough write ABC on their ballot paper in the box for Conservative. This stands for Anyone But Coleman.
The message for Councillor Richard Cornelius, leader of Barnet Council is simple. Ignore your core voters at your peril. It's not the job of this blog to make the local Conservatives more electable, but I doubt anyone in Barnet doubts what the first step should be. Anyone but Coleman that is.