ACTIVISTS from left-wing campaign group Momentum painted the town red yesterday as they sought to topple the Tories and make Swindon a Labour council in May’s election.

Led by journalist and author Owen Jones, the Unseat campaign saw Swindon Labour members hit the streets to get their message to as many voters as possible.

Guardian columnist Mr Jones said: “Labour is the biggest political party in the western world and we are trying to turn that huge amount of political enthusiasm into a grassroots army that can knock on doors and spread our message.

“We are mobilising people in all the councils we think we can win, and Swindon is one of the key targets.”

He said it would be a “devastating blow” for the Tories if they were to lose control of the council on May 3.

After speaking at Broadgreen Community Centre, the author then joined members for a canvassing session, knocking on doors and galvanising support for labour.

He described electing a Labour council as a sure way to “send a message” to Westminster that the cuts to public services have been unacceptable.

When Conservative council leader David Renard heard of Momentum’s ‘Unseat’ campaign on Friday, he said: “Having them in town is very helpful because their extreme left wing views will be exposed to the people of Swindon.”

But Mr Jones dismissed the accusation of extremism, saying: “There is nothing moderate about cutting taxes for the rich while millions of people are suffering. There is nothing moderate about decimating social services. These are extremist policies supported by the Conservative Party.”

But the administration have repeatedly defended their record, insisting that “Swindon is safe in our hands”.

Coun Russell Holland, deputy leader of the council, said in March: “We have practised sound financial management since taking overall control in June 2004 and we have consistently delivered the annual budget with a small surplus.”

He added: “We have taken the pragmatic and necessary decisions to protect public services, whether that was to put services out to the private sector, to devolve, them or to take them back-in house, which has enabled us to do that.”