Despite years in the political wilderness at the national level, Labour was powerful in local government throughout the country in 1997. Having been in power nationally for a very long time, the Conservatives had seen their — traditionally strong — local power-base badly eroded. Indeed, Mrs Thatcher’s visible dislike for much of local democracy had evidently demoralized many of her party’s local workers. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats won seats in what had previously been Tory heartlands, notably the South East region surrounding London. Within the capital, traditional Conservative strongholds such as Croydon, Harrow and Redbridge had fallen to the centre-left. In many cities beyond London (such as Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle) the Tories held no seats at all. Within the capital, only Westminster, Wandsworth and Kensington and Chelsea remained impregnable.
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