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Harrow’s mayor today criticised a test case where a secular group are going to court over prayer in council meetings.

The Mail reported on ‘militant atheists’ in North Devon attempting to prevent the council from beginning meetings with prayer – because it ‘infringes the ‘human rights’ of non-believers’.

Harrow’s mayor responded to the decision by the National Secular Society to take the town council to court for a judicial review, calling it ‘madness’ . 

In the borough, council meetings are often preempted by a prayer read by a rabbi.

Eric Silver said: “All councillors of many different faiths have enjoyed the tradition of prayers at full council meetings.

“To ban this activity just seems like religiously correct madness and to go against common sense.”

Quite.

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With just over two weeks to go before the election, the campaigns are being stepped up in Harrow.

Yesterday Chancellor Alistair Darling paid a visit to Rayners Lane, telling the crowd that Labour’s record on employment would keep customers spending in local businesses, and defending the proposed rise in National Insurance.

Meanwhile Mayor Boris Johnson went on the attack as he visited Harrow, appealing for a “long period of silence” from Tony McNulty, the incumbent Labour MP for Harrow East.

And in case anyone in Harrow West was thinking of jumping on the ‘I agree with Nick’ bandwagon and voting Lib Dem, Tory candidate Rachel Joyce offers up a reminder of what the party stand for.

“…to join the Euro, give even MORE powers to Europe, stop prison sentences for a significant proportion of quite serious crimes, and get rid of Britain’s nuclear deterrent.”

Joyce is herself a former Lib Dem member, but there is obviously no love lost between the two.

Today was the final deadline for candidates standing in next month’s election.

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What do you really know about the people who want to run Harrow East as of May 6th?

After all the talking, policy proposing and manifesto launching, it seems high time to hear from the candidates themselves.

Luckily my fellow community site The HA1 is on hand to help.

They will be hosting a debate next Tuesday featuring four of the candidates running for election in Harrow East.

Confirmed to be at the event, which will be held at at the University of Westminster, is Nahid Boethe (Lib Dem), Abhijit Pandya (UKIP) and Bob Blackman (Conservatives). Incumbent MP Tony McNulty will also be making an appearance.

Entry is free. Reserve you seat by emailing news@theha1.co.uk or by calling 020 7911 500 Ext: 4115.

Before you have your say, why not let them have theirs.

If you are interested in covering the event for Stanmore Politics please email stanmorepolitics@gmail.com

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Harrow East MP Tony McNulty has slammed his Conservative opponent for using a term offensive to the mentally ill – for the second time in under a week.

 Tory candidate Bob Blackman had told the Harrow Times that as a councillor he had ‘rescued Brent from the Looney left’.  

 But McNulty called his choice of words insensitive and said he should apologise. Last week Blackman was caught up in a row after he said Brent Council had been a ‘basket case’ before the Conservatives took over. He was speaking at an event organised by a mental health charity at the time.

 McNulty told Stanmore Politics that the remark was ‘right up there in the insensitivity stakes with ‘basket case’!’. He said:

 “All party leaders have pledged not to use mental illness as an insult or slur. Mr. Blackman has ignored this not once but twice and just carries on insulting people.

 “Once is a forgivable slip of the tongue, twice shows he has no understanding of how offensive his language is to people with experience of mental health.

 “If he doesn’t apologise, he is simply unfit for office.”

 Last weekend Blackman said he did not regret his comments, saying he understood mental health issues.

“I don’t take nonsense from Tony McNulty and others.”

Whether he will he rise to the bait this time remains to be seen.

A poll today predicted Blackman will beat McNulty on May 6, returning Harrow East to the Conservative Party after 13 years.

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The Evening Standard today mention Harrow East in an article about ‘crucial seats’ for the 2010 election.

Noting that “with 5.5 million voters and a dozen hard-fought marginals, London is the battleground no party dares lose” the Standard writes that recent polling put the Conservatives ahead of Labour in the capital by 39 per cent to 35 per cent.

But including Tony McNulty in the list, the Standard continues: “the cast of battle-hardened gladiators competing for votes in the marginals promises to produce enough colour, combat and cattiness for connoisseurs to savour.”

It goes on to note Harrow as one of the key battleground seats in London.

The article ends with a reminder that nothing can truly be predicted when it comes to local London politics.

But we can safely say that if David Cameron wants to be in charge of the country, both Harrow East and West are exactly the sorts of seats the Tory party needs to capture.

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It’s been a few weeks since I posted on Stanmore Politics so here is a brief update of local news:

 Bye Bye Briggs

Professor Tim Briggs, the surgeon in charge at Stanmore’s Orthopaedic Hospital will not be challenging Labour MP Tony McNulty in the upcoming election. The scientist had suggested he might run back in January, angry that he had not secured funding for a much needed upgrade to the facilities.

However now that the Department of Health have found a way to come up with the £60 million required, there will be no such challenge. Just shows the merit of a good publicity stunt.

Criticising what he saw as a ‘pork-barrel’ plan, Jeremy Warner in the Telegraph notes the funding has dealt ‘a possibly fatal blow’ to Conservative candidate Bob Blackman, who has been vociferously promising the money if he were elected.

Hot Cross Travellers

As an extra Easter present the good people at TfL have ensured that both the Jubilee and Met lines will be down for the Bank Holiday Weekend, driving more Harrow people back into their cars. The whole of the Jubilee line is down until Monday and the Met line is partially stopped.

Angry Pensioners

Pensioners have been expressing their anger at Harrow East MP Tony McNulty for letting them down in a key vote on for fair compensation for those who lost out with the collapse of Equitable Life. Campaigners demanded an apology but McNulty said he remains ‘fully committed to secure justice for Equitable Life victims’ and his vote was about not giving into a Lib Dem publicity stunt on the issue.

Problems in Pinner

The Evening Standard is reporting the chaos in Pinner after a feud at a GPs surgery led to it closing its doors, and forcing some 7,000 people to find an alternative.

Rachel Writes

On her blog would-be Harrow West MP Rachel Joyce has been voicing her upset over Labour smears regarding Tory cuts to cancer services. She rightly challenges the allegation, saying: ‘Scaring elderly ladies suffering from cancer is about as low as politics can get’, thoughwith respect, her indignation is somewhat weakened by the post below, which features a scaremongering Conservative campaign poster.

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Tonight, Stanmore Politics left north west London and headed east…to trendy Shoreditch, for David Cameron’s first campaign rally in the race to become our next Prime Minister. 

The election might not even have been called yet, but David still had plenty to say to rouse the troops. Joined by Baroness Warsi and Tory chairman Eric Pickles, plus a pretty raging soundtrack, Cameron made an appeal to British voters. 

The full report, including pictures, video and more will soon be available for you to feast your eyes on over at The Hackney Post.  

But to whet your appetite, here are some snaps of the evening. 

Cameron spreads the love in Shoreditch

 

Baroness Warsi introduced her leader (spot Eric Pickles behind)

 

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Boris Johnson faces a grilling from Harrow residents at a question time event on Wednesday (photo: Simon Williams)

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Last week Stanmore Politics reported the plans for a new bus route between Stanmore and Brent Cross.

 While the benefits of better transport links may be obvious, not everyone is pleased with this, as you can see here. The fear is that the route will cause too much congestion along busy roads like Old Church Lane.

Michelle Stern, who is at the forefront of the Stop The Buses campaign, told the Harrow Observer:

“I don’t think there’s any way on these roads, particularly Old Church Lane, it’s safe to have bus stops because they are so narrow.”

Do you agree? Is it worth putting up with even more traffic on a busy road to give Stanmore a new bus route? Air your views here, and take the poll below!

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