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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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Lib Dem candidate for Harrow East, Nahid Boethe, has launched her campaign website.

Amongst other things the site highlights her support for local businesses and her campaign for improved disabled access to Stanmore Station.

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The next parliament “will be full of hacks, lobbyists and previously failed candidates”, or so said Tony McNulty at a political panel event last night.

In what one could interpret as a veiled reference to the Harrow East MP’s Conservative challenger Bob Blackman, who has run for parliament three times already without success, McNulty said we should be careful what we wish for.

Men in black: (from left) Brake, Pickles, Dale and McNulty

“I think accountability will be on May 6th,” he said, but added “the notion that there is going to be the city on the hill I don’t think is the case.”

He was speaking at a panel event featuring Conservative Party chairman Eric Pickles and Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake. At the Total Politics Question Time event, held near Westminster on Thursday evening, McNulty said he had some sympathy with the notion of Primaries as a way of electing parliamentary candidates, a sentiment supported by Pickles, the MP for Brentwood and Ongar.

Quizzed on everything from accountability to diversity, the topic on everyone’s mind seemed to be the allegations in Andrew Rawnsley’s book about bullying in Downing Street and tensions between Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling.

Pointing out that during the First World War, Asquith and Lloyd George were known to have had their share of arguments, McNulty did not seem overly concerned about the revelations.

“People lose their temper in high octane situations – shock horror,” he said. “You can’t have a convivial relationship between a prime minister and a chancellor all the time.”

“I’m sure it will be a very nice book but I don’t believe that it is gospel.”

The MP added that when he had worked closely with Brown over he 42 days detention issue, Brown had not raised his voice at him.

“I raised my voice, but that’s another story for Andrew Rawnsley’s next book!”

Responding to an audience-member who asked why Brown had not called an inquiry, McNulty said: “You cam’t rush out on every single story on 24 hour news and demand an inquiry.”

Saying Labour still had a long way to go in terms of diversity, McNulty applauded the Conservatives for their efforts .

“It’s fairly snide of some commentators to say ‘oh, this is just window dressing’. Everyone needs to start somewhere.

“I think that’s thrilling for British democracy. Anything that gets a much richer and more divisive House of Commons has got to be good.”

Although he said it would be “quite astonishing” if his Liberal Democrat opponent, Iranian-born Nahid Boethe won the election, he added:

“I have always said my successor should be Asian.”

And faced with the question about the Tory lead slipping in the polls, McNulty was clear on why.

“Cameron had a free ride unscrutinized in any sort of depth, but people are starting to look closer.

“It’s not enough to say ‘vote for me, I’m not them’.”

He said there was not the enthusiasm for change there had been in the lead up to the 1997 election. “They are not doing well because they haven’t got that much to offer.”

And despite the panel host Iain Dale reminding of how McNulty had been ‘slaughtered’ over expenses, the MP said he would still encourage his nieces and nephews to pursue a Westminster career.
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<!–[endif]–>“I’d say 100 per cent go into politics,” he said.

“There’s still some good and substance about it.”

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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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It will be politics as usual despite the resignations of two longstanding Conservative councillors, Harrow’s senior Liberal Democrat said this week. 

The comments by Councillor Christopher Noyce came following last week’s announcement that Harrow Council leader David Ashton and his wife Marilyn, who represents Stanmore Park, will not contest the upcoming election.

Councillor Noyce, the leader of Harrow’s Lib Dems, told Stanmore Politics the decision would not mean any significant policy change but made things ‘interesting’. He said the news had come as a surprise and that Marilyn had always ‘steered a distinctive course’ in respect to planning matters.

“The Tories will need a new leader,” said the Rayners Lane representative. “It’s quite interesting because the current deputy [Councillor Susan Hall] only won by one vote.

“So there are quite interesting possibilities for the new leader.”

The councillor said he did not expect to see much or indeed any change in the style of politics in the borough.

“The Ashtons may be gone but I don’t see any significant changes.”

Councillor Noyce said his party hoped to make gains in May’s council elections and were likely to contest more than 60 candidates. He said the election could be more interesting than usual.

“If the general election happens on the same day [voter] turnout will be up,” he said.

Turnout in Harrow, as elsewhere in the country, is typically low for local election. But he said the national contest could mean up to 70 per cent of people cast a vote.

The Councillor said the constituency boundary changes, which come into force for this election, would make a difference to Harrow’s parliamentary election. Under the changes, Harrow East will be reduced in size and Hatch End, Pinner and Pinner South residents will choose an MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner.

Councillor Noyce is one of two Lib Dem’s sitting on Harrow Council.

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