OPINION - The Standard View: The Tories must raise their game to prevent a repeat election defeat in 2024
Party politics took a back seat over the weekend as the nation came together to celebrate the Coronation. But the fallout from the local elections has not dissipated.
As the results poured in on Friday, it became clear the Conservatives had suffered a terrible night, losing more than 1,000 councillors. Labour and the Lib Dems, meanwhile, surged, as voters appeared eager to back whichever party had the best chance of beating the Tories.
Clearly, the Prime Minister will want to launch a new push to reclaim the narrative, as we have seen with a new policy on GP appointments. Yet the political and economic fundamentals that shaped Thursday’s election results are not going away, from the mortgage bombshell and interest rate rises to the cost-of-living crisis with no end in sight.
Still, the outcome of the next general election is far from set. Sir Keir Starmer is yet to demonstrate that he is leading his party to certain victory, Scotland remains uncertain, while plenty can happen between now and next year. But it is clear that the Tories need to raise their game to prevent a repeat in 2024.
There were more shocking scenes of violence in the capital over the weekend.
Renell Charles, 16, was stabbed to death in Walthamstow near his school in broad daylight and police charged another 16-year-old with his murder. Meanwhile, in Dagenham, Wazabakana Elenda Jordan Kukabu, 18, died after being stabbed near Dagenham Heathway Tube station.
These incidents are a terrible reminder of the scourge of knife crime across our city, and the senseless violence ending lives and traumatising families. As recently as 2021 London witnessed its worst year for teen murders, as 30 lost their lives, surpassing the previous record set in 2017.
As we head into summer, teenagers and parents will be understandably fearful for their safety. The Met must redouble its efforts to remove knives from our streets, through the judicious and intelligence-led use of stop and search as well as the public-health approach this paper has campaigned for, and since adopted by the Mayor.
Tackling e-bike chaos
Londoners have grown accustomed to negotiating obstacles on pavements, most recently dockless e-bikes. At last, action is being taken.
Westminster Council is drawing up plans to force riders to park their bikes in designated bays, while users who fail to follow new rules will face higher charges and may be locked out of their account.
We welcome the uptake of low carbon and active forms of transport such as e-bikes but it must not come at the expense of pedestrians, particularly those with mobility issues or sight impairment. Parking bays are a desirable and long-overdue development.