Fast-moving world this politics lark. Last time I posted anything at this blog I put up a link to the letter orignated by Seema Malhotra, head honcho of Fabian Women’s Network and longtime pal of mine urging gender equality in the think tank world. Since then she has also become Labour candidate in Feltham and Heston where a by-election has been called for December 15th.
Despite the procedure in place for an exhaustive ballot, Seema won on the first round. I’ve known her since the mid 90s and she will be a doughty local fighter for the issues in the constituency where she grew up and went to school. The Conservatives have picked a councillor whos in his ninth year in office Mark Bowen, UKIP have also picked someone apparently big in UKIP Andrew Charalambous and apprently the BNP were leafleting Heston high street this weekend and have declared they are standing.
There is more to this constituency than a Cineworld with extensive Bollywood offer and Young Offenders institution, Politics Home says of it: “This is just the kind of working class suburban constituency that, along with neighbouring Hayes & Harlington, flirted with Margaret Thatcher during her 1983 and 1987 landslides, before reverting back to Labour.” Indeed the seat was Tory until 1992 when Labour’s Alan Keen began his tenure. It looks to be solid for Labour again and to help ensure it is I’ll be getting down there to lend a hand.
Its only the Lib Dems who haven’t picked yet of the mainstream parties and I think I they are selecting this week. As Paul Waugh has noted Vince Cable is showing an unnatural interest in helping out across the border in Hounslow borough. The seat looks vulnerable to be swallowed up in the boundary changes with bits merged with Southall and other bits going to Cable’s current Twickenham fiefdom. I am reminded of something Vince said when he came to spaek at Kingston University sometime in 2009 that sums up priorities in the suburban electorate: it went something like “even at the height of the financial crisis [of 2008] with the global economic system collapsing like a house of cards, the most popular issue at my constituency surgery was parking controls.” I reckon this time round they have other woes on their plate too though. These are to use Ed Miliband’s phrase the “squeezed middle”.
In any case the LibDem vote is likely to collapse this time round they’ve shown us just the lengths they’ll go to to get their bums on the back seats of ministerial Priuses…