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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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There was a mixed reaction for Tony Blair in Harrow this morning as he joined the Labour election campaign.

According to one onlooker the former Prime Minister was greeted by a ‘small crowd of unhappy people’ when he visited a health clinic in Rayners Lane.

He was there to campaign alongside incumbent Harrow West MP Gareth Thomas.

However asked having his blood pressure taken at the Alexandra Avenue Surgery, Blair appeared relaxed and chatty – and rather suntanned after being stuck in Israel due to the Ash cloud.

Asked whether he was healthier than Gordon Brown, he quipped: “It’s a tough job being prime minister – I know.”

Even the revelation that the clinic doctor was ‘a Tory man’ didn’t faze him.

‘Whoops,” he joked. “I’m trying to work out how to handle that one, I’m not sure I
can.”

He was optimistic about Labour’s chances, despite another day of poor polling for the party. “I don’t think [Brown] has failed at all,” he said.

 “I think that Labour has got every chance of succeeding.”

He said it was strange looking at the campaign from the outside, adding:

“When you start in an election campaign, particularly when you have got a new thing, which is the debates, then it will all revolve around a bit of who’s up, who’s down and all the rest of it.

“But once you get into the final days, I think people will really focus their minds on who has the best answers for the future, who has got the energy, the drive to take the country forward, who has got the answers to the questions the future is posing.”

Blair praised Thomas for his work as an MP, saying he had done a fantastic job.

Three campaigners for Rachel Joyce, the Conservative candidate for the constituency, met Blair as he left the clinic.

But a repeat of Gordon Brown’s Rochdale incident was narrowly avoided. Unite political director Charlie Whelan tweeted after:

“Great moment as Tony Blair forgot he had his microphone on as he left interview but TV bod asked for it back.”

Meanwhile David Cameron responded to Blair’s return by joking that it would improve Tango sales.

Both Gareth Thomas and Tony McNulty were elected in 1997 on the wave of New Labour support.

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We’ve been talking about it for ages. In every newspaper, on every radio or TV programme, on Facebook and Twitter, the hot topic is the race to run the country.   

But away from deficits, bigots and Nick Clegg, Stanmore Politics is on hand with what Harrow needs to know for the 2010 election.  

When is the election?  

Next Thursday, May 6th. You will be voting in the general election for an MP for either Harrow East or West, as well as in the local election.  

Unless you have voted by post, you will need to cast your vote at a polling station between 7am and 10pm.  

Who can I vote for in the general election?  

In Harrow East:  

Madeleine Atkins – Green  

Bob Blackman -  Conservative  

Nahid Boethe - Liberal Democrat  

Tony McNulty - Labour (read an exclusive interview with the incumbent MP here)  

Abhijit Pandya – UK Independence Party  

In Harrow West:  

Herbert Crossman – Uk Independence Party  

Rachel Joyce - Conservative  

Rowan Langley – Green  

Chris Noyce - Liberal Democrat  

Gareth Thomas - Labour  

Who can I vote for in the council election?  

Stanmore Park. For other Harrow wards click here  

Conservative  

 Camilla Bath  

Christine Bednell  

Mark Versallion  

 Labour  

Ann Groves  

Trevor James  

Eileen McNulty  

Liberal Democrats  

Cliff Thomas  

Sylvia Warshaw  

 Green  

Linda Robinson  

Find out who the current Stanmore Park councillors are here.  

Will I be voting in the same place as last time?  

Not necessarily.  Boundary changes mean the Greenhill and Marlborough wards and one part of Harrow-on-the-Hill are now in Harrow West. Meanwhile former Harrow West wards of Hatch End, Pinner, and Pinner South are now under the new constituency of Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner. Check with Harrow Council to be sure.  

Does my vote matter in Harrow?  

If you go by the 2005 results, no – both Tony McNulty and Gareth Thomas clinched a third term. Thomas has a nominal majority of  2,028 and McNulty of 4,730.  

But don’t let the numbers fool you. Both were safe Tory seats until 1997, and the last few years have not been easy, especially with the legacy of expenses hanging over Harrow East.  

Thomas faces a particularly powerful challenge from Joyce, a doctor who has been making her mark in the area for some time.

While Blackman is himself a controversial figure, on his fourth attempt to enter parliament, 2005 saw the constituency swing a significant 6.9 per cent towards the Conservatives.  

You can see just how powerful your vote is here, but essentially, the result is difficult to predict. Which means all the more reason to get out and vote on Thursday.  

Where is my nearest polling station?  

To find out, type your postcode into Harrow council’s helpful device or look at the map on the official polling Election Poll Card you should have received in the post.  

What if I haven’t got a polling card?  

It may still be delivered, but don’t panic. As long as you are on the electoral register you can still vote.  

When will the result be announced?  

Both Harrow seats are set to count their votes on the night, but as for the national result, the numbers may not give us much of an outcome. Pollsters are predicting a hung parliament (read a good guide to that here). But as soon as the results are in, Stanmore Politics will be on hand to tell you the score.  

Any other questions?  

Still confused? Don’t know who to vote for? Drop me a line at stanmorepolitics@gmail.com or on Twitter at @stanmorepol

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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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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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Harrow got a mention on Dave Hill’s Guardian blog today. Postulating about ‘bluewash Harrow’, Hill made predictions about the Conservative chances in both east and west of the borough.

 For Tony McNulty, over in Harrow East, Hill wasn’t too positive, noting the seat would be more of a Tory target. He wrote:

 “Not only is the former henchman of gruesome, tabloid-pleaser Home Secretary John Reid defending a small majority, he also has the legacy of his expenses mess working against him. And what a mess it was…

 “… [Bob Blackman has] had his own local difficulties but you’ve got to fancy his chances anyway.”

 He was more optimistic about Gareth Thomas in Harrow West. Describing Thomas as ‘depressingly obedient’, Hill said this seat looked more secure, but added:

“NHS doctor Rachel Joyce has been blogging and slimming at the same time which, given that my weight has recently soared to an unimpressive life-time record of 12 stone five pounds, impresses me as the mark of a formidable individual.

“Sometimes I think the Tories deserve their turn in power.”

Joyce herself was pretty pleased to get a mention in the post. Writing on her blog that Hill was spot on about her Labour opponent, she said:

“He is so uber-loyal that it is frustrating

“…Just once in a while he should show the Labour party a bit of gumption and say “no – I don’t agree with that”.

The dieting doctor was most keen to set the record straight over being a member of the Blue Rinse brigade.

“I am still of child-bearing age (so I can’t be that old) and I used to be a LibDem. Perhaps I’m a tinge of turquoise…”

Will Hill’s predictions for Harrow’s Labour MPs come true? Watch this space.

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Tony McNulty never contemplated stepping down after last year’s expenses scandal.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Stanmore Politics, the Harrow East MP said that despite resigning from his ministerial position after he was found claiming second-home expenses for a house his parents lived in, he never considered not contesting the seat in 2010.

 Mr McNulty, who was elected when New Labour entered power in 1997, said:

“I didn’t ever consider standing down. I don’t mean that in an arrogant way.”

 He said he wanted to let the people of Harrow decide based on his record as MP, adding that he resigned as employment minister because it was unfair to continue in the post whilst the parliamentary investigation was underway.

 The MP, who has a majority of 4,730, said he had no complaint with the media about the coverage of the expenses scandal. He said

“It was perfectly reasonable for there to be such scrutiny”.

 Discussing the events while in his Westminster office, the walls decorated with posters of past American presidential campaigns, he said the overall political system was rotten.

 “There was a degree of groupthink, collectively from MPs about the nature of the system. If I have any complaint about the coverage of expenses, it’s that the starting premise is that every MP is wrong until they prove otherwise.

 “We may have brought that on to ourselves. I can understand that too.”

 He said he accepted responsibility for his role in the scandal, and said that MPs should have been more transparent about the information.

 “We should have dealt with the whole issue much, much earlier.”

 Mr McNulty said the toughest time over nearly thirteen years in office had been the decision to go to war with Iraq. But the MP, who supported the war, said he stood by his decision and believes the fighting in Afghanistan is justified.

“I weighed up the pros and cons either way, first and foremost as an individual not as a government minister. If I’d arrived at the opposite decision then I’d have done the decent thing and stepped down.

“Given all the information at the time it was the right decision. History is replete with people looking back with 20/20 hindsight. Afghanistan is a place that we should be and good work is being done there.”

The former immigration minister denied that Labour policies in this area had boosted the BNP. He said:

 “BNP members clearly dislike black or brown faces full stop, they’re not saying you’re a third generation Asian so you’re OK, they’re against black and brown people.

 “There has been a failing over the last ten or twenty years, not just under Labour, that takes away the legitimate identity, particularly from white working class.”

Following the official opening of the Hindu Krishna-Avanti Primary School in Harrow, Mr McNulty said faith schools were a good thing and he did not accept they were divisive. Although Labour has long been criticised for its attitude towards faith schools, the MP said this was a debate within all parties.

 He said he felt he had lived up to his commitment in his maiden speech to improve education in Harrow, adding that he was committed to securing funding for the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.

 Last month its medical director made headlines by announcing he might contest the next election if the money was not allocated. But Mr McNulty said he understood Professor Tim Briggs’s frustration.

 “Tim is a passionate man, absolutely committed to the hospital. I’ve said to Tim that if he stands against me that’s entirely a matter for him.

 “I will see through successfully the funding of the hospital because it’s the right thing to do, not because Tim wants to stand against me. That’s entirely a matter for him.

 The MP would not even entertain the prospect of losing a fourth term in office. But he said if the council elections coincide with the general election by falling on May 6th – “I have to put the caveat there, but I assume it is” – the results would be interesting.

 “On a 60 or 70 per cent turnout there might be some strange ward based results throughout Harrow. I’m predicting that Stanmore Park and Canons are to go Labour.”

 He said it was ‘a real possibility’ that Harrow council would swing to Labour, but admitted that not having a working website, as Stanmore Politics reported here last week, was not helpful.

 “I do take the point,” he said. “I will look into it.”

 Having just joined Twitter, although not yet active on the site, Mr McNulty was positive about the role of blogging in political campaign. But he reserved no praise for fellow Harrow politician, (Conservative PPC for Harrow West) Rachel Joyce’s efforts.

 “It’s quite a tedious blog though isn’t it.”

Read the full interview here

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