From the Town Hall to the green benches of Westminster

This general election is notable in the number of current and former senior councillors seeking to switch from late-night planning committees to probing government ministers and shaping legislation. The London local government scene in particular will witness a sea change, should those vying to become MPs be victorious on the 4 July with 80 councillors standing, including three council leaders.  

Labour-run Camden is interesting. The Leader, Georgia Gould and Danny Beales (cabinet lead for planning) have been selected by Labour for the seats of Maida Vale and Queen’s Park and Uxbridge and South Ruislip respectively. The last set of local elections ushered in a new generation of Camden councillors, many under the age of 35, with avowedly centrist politics. These councillors will be ready to pick up the mantle and be elevated to more senior positions in the council.  

Enfield will also see a new leader, after Nesil Caliskan replaced Darren Rodwell at the last minute as the parliamentary candidate for Barking. Since becoming Leader of the Council in 2018, Caliskan has taken a keen interest in planning, assuming it as part of her brief. She has notably clashed with Sadiq Khan over the direction of the New Enfield local plan, which controversially seeks plans to de-designate areas of green belt amid an acute local housing crisis, with over 3,000 in temporary accommodation. It’s also all change in the now Labour fortress of Redbridge too, with Jas Athwal being adopted as the party’s candidate for the safe seat of Ilford South.  

Brent, a borough which has embraced inward investment and taken a strong pro-development stance, could also see political change, with its cabinet lead for planning, Shama Tatler being chosen for the hyper-marginal Chingford and Woodford Green seat in North East London. However, the decision of Faiza Shaheen (who was stripped of the Labour candidacy after allegedly liking antisemitic posts on X) to run as an independent, could split the progressive vote, with the incumbent and former Tory leader, Iain Duncan Smith coming through the middle.  

Outside of London, Satvir Kaur (former Leader of Southampton City Council) will be running in Southampton Test, and has been actively involved in Labour politics in the city for over 15 years, and was chosen by the Leader’s office to introduce Starmer’s address to conference in 2022. Her former deputy leader Darren Paffey will also be hoping to win back the marginal Southampton Itchen after nine years of Conservative representation.   

Some councillors used the last set of Mayoral elections in May to step down to dedicate more time to their seats. This includes Steve Race in Exeter, who adeptly chaired Hackney’s planning committee for several years. His former Hackney colleague, Polly Billington (former special advisor to Ed Miliband when leader) also followed suit in East Thanet. 

Others have local government experience stretching back after over a longer period, like Alan Strickland (former cabinet member for regeneration in Haringey) who was at the forefront of the Haringey Development vehicle, which precipitated deep divisions within the local authority. Strickland has been selected as the party’s candidate for Newton Aycliffe and Spennymoor in the North East, and has admirers among many senior figures in the party. Elsewhere Oli Ryan, who despite being under 30 years old, has amassed over a decade of experience in Tameside Council with stints at a cabinet level, has been selected as the party’s candidate for Burnley, Padiham & Brierfield. 

Being at the sharp end and frontline of local government will equip these candidates with invaluable experience and skills, especially those who have had to manage budgets after over a decade of fiscal restraint, as they make the switch to Westminster. It’s expected that after a period of learning the ropes in the Commons, many from local government backgrounds will end up in junior ministerial office.  

This pool of candidates is extremely ambitious and will be hoping to spend as little time as possible sitting on the backbenches.