I have just got back from a weekend in Paris with my wife to find Gordon Brown being acclaimed as the new leader of the Labour party with Harriet Harman as deputy leader. The Labour Party will be very different over the next few months and in the short term the Tories are going to be slightly on the back foot as shown by this weekend’s poll which showed the Tories behind Labour for the first time in months.
There will be some real polls in the next few weeks in our part of West London. Cllr Brian Castle’s funeral took place on Friday and there will be a by-election on 19th July, less than four weeks away. Ealing Southall’s MP, Piara Khabra died last Tuesday and campaigning will start in that election as soon as his funeral is over on Wednesday – although there have been rumours of Labour doing telephone canvassing for some weeks now.
In Cleveland Labour should be nowhere, see last year’s results. The Lib-Dem’s candidate Francesco Fruzza (see Lib-Dem press release) got within 100 votes of the worst performing Tory then. Francesco has a long-standing interest in local politics, he turned up to the Ealing North Conservative primary which selected Ian Gibb as the Conservative’s candidate and lost Cleveland in 2006 and 2002. I would expect that the new Conservative administration’s effective and focussed concentration on voter’s issues, such as the environment, community safety and council tax, will be translated into votes for the Tory candidate.
Ealing Southall will be altogether more interesting. The 2005 results are here. Although Labour dominated with 23,000 votes there were big votes too for the Lib-Dems with 11,500 votes with the Conservatives with 10,000. I fail to see why Southall’s Asian community should always be natural Labour voters and in any case Southall, and more importantly the constituency which includes a large part of west Ealing, is changing fast. None of the three major parties have selected candidates for this seat yet. Although this looks like a safe Labour seat and the Lib-Dems try to present themselves as the second party I suspect that there will be significant change in Ealing Southall over the next couple of months.