Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘voter turnout’

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

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Nearly two thirds of voters in Harrow East are from ethnic minorities, but despite these groups being politically active they are still undervalued and poorly represented, new research shows.

 In a study released last week, a Warwick university academic  shows that the ethnic minority vote will be more important than ever before in the upcoming election but Britain must still do more to encourage their role in the national debate.

Professor Muhammad Anwar, from Warwick’s Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations, notes that ethnic minorities  are nearly on par with white voters when it comes to voter registration and that as a group they have above average turnout in elections.

Harrow East has the highest proportion of the ethnic minority vote in the country, and is one of 25 constituencies where more than 40 per cent of people come from a minority group.

 With 66.3 per cent of the area’s population categorised as from a minority in the 2001 census, Harrow East is far above the national average of one in ten.

 Yet even for the national average, minority groups remain badly represented in the political process. There are only 15 MPs of ethnic minority origin, and just double this figure in the larger House of Lords.

While nationally voter turnout has plummeted in recent years, it is rising amongst minority groups. Just 61.4 per cent of people turned out to vote in the 2005 election, but for Bangladeshi voters it was per cent, with 70 per cent of Pakistanis and 67 per cent of Indians voting.

Professor Anwar said this trend would continue among Asian and particularly among Muslim groups. He said this was because British Muslims had become a focus of the media and of politicians.

“Muslims themselves have become more conscious  of their rights and responsibilities as British citizens, including participation in the electoral process,” he said.

He said that rising political participation should also be matched by rising representation.

“The effective representation of ethnic minorities in politics is crucial to the achievement of equality of opportunity across our society,” he said.

“There has been some progress but Britain has a long way to go in providing equality for ethnic minorities in the decision making process.”

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.