Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Britain may be facing a hung parliament but in Harrow East the result is clear – Conservative Bob Blackman is the new MP.

Labour’s Tony McNulty has lost his seat after 13 years, gaining 18,032 votes compared with Blackman’s 21,435.

However is was mixed news for Harrow as Labour’s Gareth Thomas held on to his Harrow West seat, beating off Dr. Rachel Joyce for first place with a majority of 3,143.

Full Results

Bob Blackman (Con)21435 (44.65%) 3403

Tony McNulty (Lb)18032 (37.56%)

Nahid Boethe (Lb Dem)6850 (14.27%) 
 
Abhijit Pandya (UKIP) 896 (1.87%)
 
Madeleine Atkins (Green) 93 (1.65%)
 
Harrow West

Gareth Thomas (Lab) 20,111

Dr Rachel Joyce (Con) 16,968 (36.79%)

Chris Noyce (Lib Dem) 7,458 (16.17%)

Herbert Crossman (UKIP) 954 (2.07%)

Rowan Langley (Green)  625 (1.36%)

Weeks ago, when the 2010 campaign kicked off, the outcome looked like a dead cert. After Labour missed the opportunity to go to the country when they were riding high in the polls, the Conservative party were enjoying a place at the giddy heights of public popularity.

For a few days, that was it. 2010, the first national vote in half a decade and the election campaign that wasn’t.

But then came the televised debates, the rise of Nick Clegg and the shaky performance by David Cameron. Then came a gaffe in Rochdale, beheaded chickens, ‘revelations’ about the Lib Dem past. Then came the realisation that we live in a democracy, that our vote counts and that we have a say in Britain’s future.

This election, in Harrow at council and constituency level, is about choice. For some that choice emerges as between cuts and investment, for others between big state and big society, certainty versus unpredictability.

Stanmore Politics isn’t going to tell you how to vote. All I can do is offer the information, fairly and faithfully presented, about the scope of candidates appealing for your cross next to their name. Who gets that is for you to decide.

No, I won’t tell you who to vote for. But I will say this; use your vote.

Man or woman, old or young – at some time in history you may not have been able to. You can now, and tomorrow the result rests on you taking up that responsibility.

Neither of Harrow’s two constituencies are guarantees for any party, and your choice matters. Already, our electoral system enables power without equivalent mandate. The more people who turnout tomorrow, the more legitimate our next representation in council and parliament will be.

Whatever happens, Stanmore Politics will be on hand with the results as soon as they arrive. I wish good luck to all the candidates – regardless of personal views, serving the public is something few of us ever seek to do.

And remember, those results are not yet decided. Have your say, because you can make a difference. If you don’t speak up, you certainly won’t.

Confused about the vote tomorrow? Click here for the Stanmore Politics election guide.

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.

Having a strict immigration policy is not a sign of intolerance, according to the UKIP candidate for Harrow East.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Stanmore Politics before the general and local elections this Thursday, Abhijit Pandya emphasised that critics have no basis for calling UKIP intolerant.

“A strict immigration policy in fact can ensure social cohesion and preserve toleration,” he said.

Pandya, a tutor of international law at LSE who grew up in the Harrow area, added he supported a strict cap on immigration.

“People must have secured employment to come into the UK, or they will be a burden on social security.”

However, as the son of immigrants, he agreed there have been ‘huge benefits’ to immigration in Britain, mentioning ‘hard-working decent people seeking to assimilate and participate in Britain.”

“Immigrants contribute to all areas of national life, have contributed to the armed services and the post second world war economic recovery.”

Following on from the furore of a hustings event last week, he said there were huge differences between UKIP and the BNP.

“The fundamentals of our understanding of Britishness is not based on ethnicity but on common shared values of liberalism, toleration and democracy,” he said.

The former Conservative campaigner said UKIP could offer a  clear position on Europe which was not anti-European ‘in a derogatory or prejudiced way’.

He said he wanted to make people aware ‘that we are not a one issue party’ and called for more vocational training for children and an economic revival for small and large businesses.

“I also want a Harrow that is free of property related crime, like burglary and thefts,” he said. “This is by ensuring that police are not burdened with administrative difficulties.

Pandya went on to describe a 50 per cent tax as ‘simply nationalised theft’ and called for a Royal Commission on climate change ‘to ensure Government spending in that area is used honestly’.

“We should not have the inordinate overseas aid budget that the Conservatives and Labour have signed up to in a time of economic crisis,” he said.

He said that politicians put too much emphasis on soundbites trying to please the public, rather than facing difficult arguments.

“Politics has become far too simplistic in its image, whereas the process of Government is ever more complex,” he said. “This leads to a misleading of the public’s expectations.”

Acknowledging UKIP face an uphill challenge, having polled just 757 votes in Harrow East in 2005, he said if he did lose he wanted the party to grow in Harrow ‘by listening to the real concerns of people from all areas of society.’

Still not decided who you’re going to vote for? Read the Stanmore Politics interview with incumbent Labour MP, Tony McNulty, here.

As regular Stanmore Politics readers may have noticed, there has been some controversy in the aftermath of last week’s Harrow East hustings.

Some in the audience felt Labour candidate Tony McNulty had slammed his UKIP opponent, Abhijit Pandya, as being ‘a BNP man in a suit’.

However McNulty has since asked to clarify his comments. He told Stanmore Politics:

“I said that given his comments, it was no wonder that people called the UKIP the BNP in a suit.

The incumbent MP also said he did not remark on Pandya’s roots, but wanted to make clear that ‘multiculturalism is about everyone celebrating their roots within a British context – not separatism’.

In 2005 UKIP won just 757 votes in Harrow East, a 1.8 per cent share.

Read the complete guide to Thursday’s elections here.

As Stanmore Politics reported, yesterday saw a high profile visit by ex-prime minister Tony Blair to Harrow West.

 Blair dismissed the polls and spoke confidently about Labour’s chances, but not everyone in the media was convinced.

 Writing for the Telegraph, James Kirkup said the strangest thing was that Labour strategists thought the visit was a good idea.

“What propelled Mr Brown into No 10 in 2007 was antipathy to Mr Blair: voters, and especially Labour voters, had had enough of him, his grin and his interventionist wars.

“For those voters, Mr Brown’s principal offer was that he was not Tony Blair. What message does this send to them?”

The Guardian was more forgiving, running with the headline ‘Tony Blair’s tan brings much-needed glow to Labour on the road’, but went on to say:

“Blair’s appearance in Harrow West may indicate how worried Labour has become.

“A Tory victory in this seat would hand Cameron a majority of 84 – almost double Margaret Thatcher’s majority in 1979.”

Jim Pickard asked on the FT blog: ‘Tony Blair rides to the rescue’ but then added:

“I’ve put down a bet of £20 at Ladbrokes on a Tory win

“Blair said Labour still had a chance of winning. If you say so.”

For the Mail, the question was why Blair was not campaigning with Gordon Brown, adding:

“Mr Blair, who looked extremely thin but deeply tanned, offered only lukewarm support for his successor as he attended a clinic in Harrow.”

What do you think about Tony Blair visiting Harrow. Perfect pitch or last ditch? As always let Stanmore Politics know.

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.