… Virendra Sharma spoke at our monthly Labour party branch meeting in the Northfields ward of Ealing borough this week. Our new MP thanked us help him get elected and outlined some of what he’d been up to since. His maiden speech following convention praised his successor and constituency. Sharma pointed out in a tongue-in-cheek manner that Ealing Southall must be a great place as the leader of the opposition had clocked up five visits there in his ill-fated attempt to drum up support for Tory double agent Tony Litt who trailed third behing the Ming-led Lib Dems. Litt’s ballot-paper billing as hailing from “David Cameron’s Conservative Party” certainly raised eyebrows. Was this all a subtle ploy to start disassociating the party from its former moniker “Conservative and Unionist Party” in its new anti-Scot mood? or an attempt to show bike friendly cuddliness/baby seal fan side rather than the nasty party of yore? Either way a monumental flop.

Sharma is pretty on the ball and not at all Piara Khabra MkII as has been unkindly suggested by Sunny at Pickled Politics. For a start he’s a good 20+ years younger and was until recently manager of a daycare centre – making him one of the few people in parliament with understanding and experience of disability issues.

He indicated that he would be prepared to depart from the government line when neccessary (but wouldn’t say on what) and that his key issues to champion would be human rights, international development and social care. He also stressed the importance of trade unions in the political process as a former union rep himself. Members wanted assurance that we would not be forgotten tucked away in the eastern edge of the constituency in Ealing rather then the centre of Southall some miles away. As one said “Although the weight of your votes may come from the other side of the iron-bridge, don’t forget about us”. The ward was traditionally marginal and used to be Con/Lab split but went to 3/3 Labour councillors in elections after 1994. In the elections of last year which turned into a single issue referendum on the Uxbridge Road tram, the Tories scooped the board. This means they are now launching all kinds of schemes including banning Halloween (well not quite but variation on a theme).

Canvassing is already being planned to win back the ward next time round. Before that are obviously the GLAs and Sharma spoke highly of Ealing and Hillingdon candidate Ranjit Dheer who is seen as having a real chance unlike the less popular, defector Tory turncoat Gurcharan Singh who performed poorly in 2 previous elections before huffing off when he didn’t get the Labour nomination for the by-election. Cameron hailed the crossing of the floor by Singh and 4 stooges as a historic moment for British politics. If the current Ealing Tory administratoin really reckons that, they should give the 5 safe Tory seats to contest at the next locals but somehow I doubt it’ll happen. It’s not just a coincidence that the lowest turnout at the last mayoral/assembly elections across the whole GLA polling district was in Singh’s own ward.

To use a well-worn cliche beloved of Cam the sham “bring it on”.