Last night saw some 80 people at Greenford Hall to select a prospective parliamentary candidate for Ealing North. It was a windy, wet night which may have kept some people away but the turnout was perhaps a little disappointing given the level of interest it had received in the local press. Stephen Pound had joked about turning up, that’s what he does, but it was his Liberal Democrat opposition from the last election, Francesco Fruzza, who did actually turn up on the night. Steve Still from the Gazette was there too.
At the end of the evening when the time came for the formal adoption of the candidate it became apparent that over half of the attendees were party members. The general feeling was four good candidates but Gibb resonated best. Here is how the four came across:
Ian Gibb offered his “real world experience” and gave a very personal performance in front of a home crowd. He tripped up a bit when talking about the NHS; his call for a period of stability sounded a bit producer interested to me, but otherwise he did well. His local knowledge as a long-serving local councillor and current portfolio holder came across well. Ian was perhaps the most hesitant and least fluent of the candidates but he came across as being authentic.
Hero: William Wilberforce
Villain: Tony Benn
Private member’s bill: Support for the family
Aidan Burley talked of “leading from the front” and claimed to be a West London boy, having lived in Hammersmith for 5 years. Aidan was well prepared with good local knowledge and some well aimed knocks at Stephen Pound, the sitting Labour MP. I am not sure how the audience warmed to the idea of a management consultant who works in the public sector. He made some good points about health and law and order but many will have felt that smooth talking consultants were part of the problem with the public services.
Hero: Ronald Reagan
Villain: John Reid
Private member’s bill: Repeal top-up fees
Mimi Harker promised to give up her day job if she was selected. She oozed “personality” but to some tastes she would come across as plastic fantastic. Extreme, extremely and passionate were favourite words. Harker offered her background in marketing and advertising as a strength. When talking about Europe she joked that she would fight to get rid of the Pound, Stephen Pound.
Hero: William Hague
Villain: Peter Mandelson
Private member’s bill: Create mother and baby units for teenage mothers
Sheela Mackintosh was last up. Mackintosh came across well, perhaps coming second in the authenticity stakes, but had the weakest answers to questions. She hesitated over her choice of villain and gladly accepted an audience suggestion. When interviewer Stephan Shakespeare offered Ken Livingstone as a possible villain she suggested that Livingstone is OK with her as he stands up for what he believes in.
Hero: David Davis
Villain: Margaret Beckett
Private member’s bill: Repeal inheritance tax
Stephan Shakespeare, co-founder of the yougov polling organisation, did an excellent job of being interviewer. Chatting to him during the count he told me that he was raised in Northfield. Hopefully he will be available if we want to do an open primary for Ealing Southall.