How Wandsworth Council is recycling failed councillors

Author: Cyril Richert

Wandsworth Conservatives - Not Delivering for You posters (original on

Wandsworth Conservatives – original photo on

On Thursday 9th November, John Locker was elected councillor in the safe Tory ward of Thamesfield (I always remember what a Society member told me a while ago: “if the Tory party was putting a monkey up for election in that ward, he would get elected“). The name might ring a bell as John Locker was ousted from Bedford ward at the last local election in 2014, where Labour’s Rosena Allin-Khan and Fleur Anderson were elected. That is how Wandsworth Tory party is thanking obedient Tory councillors, by making sure they find a safe place where they can stay with a pretence of power.

While you might believe that your local Conservative councillors would have some weight to Cllrs Govindia, Cook, Senior, and the rest of the cabinet’s decisions, to defend their ward residents over unsound decisions, the reality shows that they have none. A good Wandsworth Tory councillor, likely to be saved from an election defeat, is barely allowed to make minor ripples on prominent local issues.

Why are they not rebelling then (if they disagree with the Council they could become independent)? Because they are power-thirsty and ambitious, and get the hope to play a role in the Tory Council of Wandsworth. If you want to see a good example of that, just talk to a Putney Society member of their former chair, Steffy Sutters, who was “appointed” Tory Councillor in 2010 (safe ward) and promoted to cabinet in 2014 as chief whip and with responsibility for communications…! [1]

Within a few years Wandsworth Council will have managed to transform York Road into a vast building site promising a forest of new towers and skyscrapers, without any concern to the pressure it will cause to the local amenities.

Even Network Rail acknowledged that Clapham Junction Station is congested and running over capacity. If Wandsworth Council is concerned, it still remains to be seen. In any case they are not prepared to act upon it: in reality their policy on permitted developments is only rubbing salt into the wound.

Are they listening to local residents, the people who actually live there? Yes, they listen, to spot where the irritating “noise” comes from so they can later close their ears and ignore the local community, because “they know better!

[1] “There are two kinds of politicians: insiders and outsiders. The outsiders prioritize their freedom to speak their version of the truth. The price of their freedom is that they are ignored by the insiders, who make the important decisions. The insiders, for their parts, follow a sacrosanct rule: never turn against other insiders and never talk to outsiders about what insiders say or do. Their reward? Access to inside information and a chance, though no guarantee, of influencing powerful people and outcomes.” – Larry Summers, seventy-first secretary of the United States Treasury and twenty-seventh president of Harvard (quoted in Adults In The Room by Yanis Varoufakis)

If you want to see more of the last public meeting organised by the Clapham Junction Action Group, it’s >> HERE.


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