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So the dust has settled: Tony McNulty is out and Bob Blackman is in. Gareth Thomas fought off Rachel Joyce and despite Cleggmania there were no significant gains for the Lib Dems. 

The web is buzzing with views on the result of the 2010 election in Harrow, so here is Stanmore Politics with the most interesting theories:

All down to Boris: When London went blue to years ago it certainly boosted the Conservatives. And as the mayor himself told Evening Standard journalist Paul Waugh: “I would say it’s Boris wot won it in areas such as Harrow East.”

  Elsewhere, blogger Boris Watch disagrees, noting that where there were high profile Labour losses – in Harrow East or in Brentford and Isleworth for Ann Keen – it was more about constituency record and expenses.

“So where does this leave Boris?  Well, when elected he was supposed to use his charisma to deliver London to Cameron, which would have won him the Premiership.  

“Instead Boris has been decidedly low-profile […] where Labour seats were lost there appear to have been extraneous factors like an undefendably low majority or expenses scandals rather than a Boris Halo

Paying the price? The majority of commentators have argued that McNulty’s loss – and conversely Gareth Thomas’ win – comes down to expenses.

The Telegraph raged ‘disgraced MPs are driven out by angry voters’ while the Scotsman noted ‘the expenses scandal claimed another victim’ and the Daily Mail waved ‘Cheerio to those cheats’.

One commenter on the blog ThisisBigBrother wrote: “This bunch of sleaze merchants refused to resign but justice has now been done!”

Tory trouble? Lest we forget, both Harrow East and West were Conservative before 1997, but while new Labour has been well and truly decimated Gareth Thomas held on with a respectable majority. Helped by some boundary changes, why did his opponent Rachel Joyce – a very credible candidate – not boot him out too?

The Telegraph’s London Editor Andrew Gilligan  writes that ‘it was also due to a patchy performance by the Tories’ and comments:

“First, candidates clearly mattered in this election. And unlike Boris in 2008, Cameron has not broken through to the working class, in the capital at least.”

The Times notes that this was ‘a terrible night for science’, something that had Dr Joyce been elected, would have been slightly less the case.

Lib Dem loss? Days ago, the Lib Dems under Nick ‘British Obama’ Clegg were tipped by all the pundits and polls to come second in the popular vote, and certainly improve their share of seats. In Harrow, not much changed.

Neil Midgley, the Telegraph’s assistant media editor said: “If you look at the opinion polls at the start of the campaign, and the final results, they are very similar.

“In other words: all that TV hoopla had pretty much no impact on the overall final result at all.

“Of course, individual voters may have switched to and fro based on what they saw on the TV. But the individual constituency results that are striking tend to be so (Jacqui Smith, Tony McNulty) because of the MPs’ expenses scandal”

Green candidate Rowan Langley notes happily: “in Harrow our own supporters turned out to take that leap of faith on the Green candidates, on the ballot paper for the first time, 625 in Harrow West and 793 Harrow East.”

What did Twitter think? One of the sad parts about the defeats of McNulty and Joyce is that Harrow now has even less political representation on twitter. But that didn’t stop the local Twitterati from having their say:

@bigpantywoman: “Wish lab had put up new people in  [sic] Smith and Tony McNulty’s seats, must have known wd lose” 

@MarcusDysch_JC: “The electorate knows what it is doing. Had given the likes of Tony McNulty and Jacqui Smith a kick in balls where they deserved one. Good.”

@alextingle “I agreed most with Christopher Noyce (Liberal Democrats) in Harrow West – how about you?”

@reporterboy “Tony McNulty was cheerful and polite throughout the night, and still so despite the clear dejection of defeat. Respect for that from me.”

@mattgodbolt “Yay! Tony McNulty is no longer my MP. Conservatives got in, not my choice but not a total disaster”

@ilyine “Tony McNulty is goneski.”

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Weeks ago, when the 2010 campaign kicked off, the outcome looked like a dead cert. After Labour missed the opportunity to go to the country when they were riding high in the polls, the Conservative party were enjoying a place at the giddy heights of public popularity.

For a few days, that was it. 2010, the first national vote in half a decade and the election campaign that wasn’t.

But then came the televised debates, the rise of Nick Clegg and the shaky performance by David Cameron. Then came a gaffe in Rochdale, beheaded chickens, ‘revelations’ about the Lib Dem past. Then came the realisation that we live in a democracy, that our vote counts and that we have a say in Britain’s future.

This election, in Harrow at council and constituency level, is about choice. For some that choice emerges as between cuts and investment, for others between big state and big society, certainty versus unpredictability.

Stanmore Politics isn’t going to tell you how to vote. All I can do is offer the information, fairly and faithfully presented, about the scope of candidates appealing for your cross next to their name. Who gets that is for you to decide.

No, I won’t tell you who to vote for. But I will say this; use your vote.

Man or woman, old or young – at some time in history you may not have been able to. You can now, and tomorrow the result rests on you taking up that responsibility.

Neither of Harrow’s two constituencies are guarantees for any party, and your choice matters. Already, our electoral system enables power without equivalent mandate. The more people who turnout tomorrow, the more legitimate our next representation in council and parliament will be.

Whatever happens, Stanmore Politics will be on hand with the results as soon as they arrive. I wish good luck to all the candidates – regardless of personal views, serving the public is something few of us ever seek to do.

And remember, those results are not yet decided. Have your say, because you can make a difference. If you don’t speak up, you certainly won’t.

Confused about the vote tomorrow? Click here for the Stanmore Politics election guide.

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When will the commuter chaos end?

Another day, another story about the chaos surrounding the ‘improvements’ to the Jubilee Line.

According to the Evening Standard:

“Two million passengers who use the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines face years of delays after a major row broke out today over the amount that will be spent on the Tube network.”

Apparently Tube Lines, the company in charge of the upgrade want £460 million more for the job than London Underground are willing to pay out, despite being ordered to cut their fee by £1.3 billion. 

The news came with the sniping and blame-shifting that is now an all too familiar part of the Tube upgrade, with everyone from Mayor Boris Johnson to Bob Crow, RMT union leader, weighing in.

Well, I don’t care who is at fault – Tube Lines, London Underground, Gordon Brown or Thomas the Tank Engine – and I suspect I am not alone. I just want some action.

Living in outer London you get used to whiling away time on icy train platforms as the tannoy announces ‘good service’ but the next train is nowhere in sight.

Delays, abrupt terminations before your stop (announced once the train has already left) and a necessity to leave inordinate amounts of time for your journey ‘just in case’ are irritating but acceptable. The complete lack of transport from north London on most weekends is not.

Bad service is better than nothing

The congestion charge and the general drive to get Londoners out of their cars was launched on the understanding that public transport could compensate from the steering wheel.

When the Met, Jubilee and Northern lines are running poor service or not running at all, as has been the case recently, there is no incentive to trade in your car for something environmentally friendly. Sure, there are replacement buses in operation whenever there is a tube closure. But I suspect anybody who trumpets them as a viable alternative has never actually whiled away hours, and hours, of an afternoon on one.

Moreover, it seems increasingly unclear what benefit these alleged ‘upgrades’ will have.

The idea is to finish them by the time of the Olympics – something looking unlikely anyway – but is uprooting our transport for more than a year really the price we must pay for a few weeks of sporting glory? Harrow seems likely to enjoy little benefit from London hosting the games, far from the sites as it is, so why must we put up with the cost?

There is no question the Tube could do with some maintenance – a lick of fresh paint, air conditioning, better station facilities – but not if it means causing us chaos every weekend from now until eternity. Either stop bickering and sort it out, or stop trying to redo it.

Because as deficient as the Underground may be, bad service is better than no service.

Agree with my opinion? Have you say by leaving a comment below.

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