Went to my Labour party branch meeting yesterday – Northfields ward of Ealing Southall CLP. There were 16 there but then it was a joint shindig between 3 adjoining wards. Our guest speaker was Bassam Mahfouz, the youngest Ealing councillor in his day and newly selected candidate for the neighbouring parliamentary seat Ealing Acton and Central who spoke about the challenges ahead. Lots of people have written off the new seat as a Tory dead cert – on the 05 results it would have been neck and neck but with the Brown bounce it could easily be a Labour seat next time round making Bassam the first MP of Arab heritage and youngest ever in the borough. He seems a good bloke; energetic, imaginative and not just an on-message clone: in the Q+As he described how he had marched against the war and revealed that he’d voted for Benn 1st and Harman 2nd in the deputy leadership.

The kind of west London issues coming up in the discussion were about the proposed Uxbridge Road tram and the third runway at Heathrow. The last time we’d met Piara Khabra was MP, Tony Blair was PM and the name of the next deputy leader still not known. The disgruntlement about the Ealing Southall candidate selection – from an all-women-shortlist to just 2 names with not a woman in sight – seemed to have subsided somewhat following the result. A letter of complaint from the branch that had been drafted was never sent – although it could still resurface. In the meantime Virendra Sharma has been invited to speak next time round. Assuming he takes up the offer it should be an interesting one.

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