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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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The Home Secretary was in Harrow today to give a boost to the MPs fighting for their seats there and talk about Labour’s plans for policing.

Alan Johnson joined Harrow East MP Tony McNulty and his Harrow West counterpart Gareth Thomas, both of whom are fighting to save their seats in May, as they campaigned in the area.
 
The Home Secretary used the opportunity to raise concerns about Conservative policing policy and promise Labour would protect funding for Safer Neighbourhood teams.
 
“The Conservatives have not promised to keep up spending on police,” he said.
 
Calling neighbourhood policing a resource people ‘can reach out and touch’, he added:
 
“Our prediction is that we’ll see some of those teams pushed up to borough level which means diluting the neighbourhood policing we’ve become used to.
 
“Ensuring that every ward in London has a basic minimum level is really important.”
 
McNulty has previously also been vocal about policing, calling Mayor Boris Johnson a ‘clown’ in January after he stepped down from running the Metropolitan Policing Authority.

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Could it be all change in Harrow East?

A YouGov poll of London voters for the Evening Standard suggests that Harrow East will swing back to the Conservatives in the upcoming election.

 The seat, which went from Blue to Red in 1997 and has been held for the past 13 years by Labour MP Tony McNulty, is one of a dozen tipped to go Tory next month.

 The poll gives the Conservative party a six point rise on the 2005 election, putting their share of the vote in the capital at 38 per cent.

 Meanwhile the poll puts Labour at 35 per cent and the Lib Dems at 16 per cent, a six point drop.

 Among the twelve seats likely to shift from either Lib Dem or Labour control is Harrow’s neighbouring seat Hendon. Currently held by Labour MP Andrew Dismore, it is highly placed on the Conservatives list of target seats, which may be why Prime Minister Gordon Brown dropped by the area yesterday.

 Harrow East is not considered quite as marginal as Hendon, with McNulty enjoying a majority of 2,934 in the 2005 election.

 But as the poll indicates, his dismal record during last year’s expenses scandal and Labour’s wider national standing could well deliver a win for Tory candidate Bob Blackman.

 Still, with more than three weeks to go until May 6, none of the candidates can rest easy.

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Harrow’s election campaigning is heating up in the virtual world.

Harrow Lib Dems have got their new website up and running here.

The website of the Harrow East Conservatives has been live for some time now, as can be seen here, although it hasn’t been updated for a while.

Meanwhile, Harrow Labour’s website is still not open for business, despite the promise it would be by January 2010 and a reaffirmation by MP Tony McNulty that he would look into it.

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Conservative candidate for Harrow East, Bob Blackman, has lent support to new Tory plans to give private groups the responsibility for saving and running public buildings and services, including post offices and libraries.

Discussing the Community Right to Buy proposals, Blackman said:

“Under Labour, local neighbourhoods in Harrow and across the country have lost too many essential local services and facilities. Gordon Brown’s Government has closed post offices and driven local pubs into the ground.

People feel powerless to stop their communities losing access to vital services and facilities. So the Conservatives will give bold new powers to people in Harrow to protect and improve vital community assets and preserve the social fabric of our neighbourhoods”.”

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