Who should I vote for in Ealing Central and Acton?2
June 7, 2017 by Paul Goldsmith
I am lucky enough to live in Ealing Central and Acton, which is a (very) marginal constituency. It was prised away from the Conservatives in 2015 by a tiny majority of 274 votes. This made it the 2nd most marginal of all Labour seats. What’s more, it was only 56th on the list of Labour target seats. However, the combination of an incumbent Conservative MP with no links to the area up against a Labour candidate in Rupa Huq who had lived there all her life was enough to tip the balance in this highly mixed constituency towards turning it red.
It remains highly balanced today, so highly balanced that the Green Party have not put up a candidate, putting their support behind Huq, and UKIP have stood own their candidate, putting their weight behind Joy Morrissey, the Conservative candidate. Prime Minister Theresa May has visited the constituency, as has Labour Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer (Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t ‘do’ marginals). Meanwhile, there is a Lib Dem candidate, John Ball, but he is an afterthought in this battle, although a very important one, as any votes for him gives Morrissey a better chance, something that Huq has been at pains to make clear in her election literature.
The human geography of the constituency is what makes it so marginal. Ealing is a hub of middle class suburbia, mostly Conservative voting. If you live in one of the large houses on its leafy roads you will have been bombarded with blue leaflets from Morrissey. Going east, Acton and the west side of Shepherds Bush is far more mixed, both culturally and income-wise, so Labour have painted that side of the constituency red. I live in the middle – but, it seems, more to the east, given I have had a tree’s-worth of literature from Huq and only one leaflet from Morrissey. Bear in mind I am a centrist, so I could vote either way, it must be my location that means Morrissey hasn’t paid me much attention. As for the Lib Dems? Nothing, for the second election in a row.
The words on the leaflets and letters I have received say a lot. Huq makes not a single mention of Jeremy Corbyn. She after all cast a vote of no confidence in him last year. She is a passionate Remain supporter in a constituency that voted 72% to stay in the EU, so she has made much of that. She talks of her life living in the area, and of her work as MP, which in my view has been very strong and committed. She will never be everybody’s cup of tea, but there is little doubt she has worked very hard as a constituency MP at a very difficult time to be a Labour politician.
Morrissey, unlike her predecessor Angie Bray (who she used to work for), lives in the constituency and has been an Ealing councillor. This is believed to have been a key factor in her selection as candidate. She voted Leave in the EU referendum, which, in a constituency so pro-Remain in an election so much about Brexit, makes her feel the need to keep quiet about Brexit in the candidate profile she has written. The leaflet I got barely makes mention of the candidate herself, presenting herself as a typical ‘Maybot’ – the nickname for the current breed of Conservative politicians who seem to have been programmed rigorously to parrot whatever the PM says. Her leaflet of course DOES mention Jeremy Corbyn, including all his links to the IRA and terrorism. I think it is a shame that Morrissey does little to present herself to me as a person. I also thought it was a shame that after Theresa May avoided face-to-face debates, so did Morrissey, refusing to turn up at a constituency hustings over the accusation that she supports the closing of Ealing Hospital (which isn’t apparently happening). Instead of turning up to refute the claims, she instead threatened legal action and refused a debate. Being a fan of debate myself, I am as impressed about this as I am about May’s refusal to debate Corbyn.
As far as Jon Ball of the Liberal Democrats goes, he is also an Ealing Councillor, and his statement makes great play of his opposition to Heathrow’s third runway and a ‘hard Brexit’. The problem for Ball is that senior Lib Dems have actually been agitating for Lib Dem voters to vote for Rupa Huq, and so he has been provided with little to no support in the constituency. I do not expect him to figure much, BUT if the vote is close, votes for him might swing it away, probably from Huq.
As to whom I should vote for, I am in an interesting position because under our election system the votes we have can be tactical and can be for an MP without being for a party, particularly in a marginal constituency.
I am wary of (but not completely against) Corbyn winning this election, for reasons I will write about tomorrow. A vote for Rupa Huq is theoretically not a vote for Jeremy Corbyn, as she is publicly not a supporter and he is still very unlikely to win. If I want to have a stronger opposition to the Conservatives in the House of Commons then I should vote for Huq as she has spoken over 400 times in the past two years, which is very high for an MP. If I believe that the higher Theresa May’s majority, the better her negotiating position for Brexit, because she can more or less guarantee any deal she makes will get through Parliament, then I should vote for Morrissey. But I like Huq’s independence and insistence on putting her case strongly and I think her presence in the House of Commons benefits our political culture. Morrissey shows little sign of independence from May, so I would only vote for her if I am particularly supportive of Theresa May’s vision for Britain.
Like you i am a centrist, albeit in a less marginal , although very pro-remain Tory constituency. For me May’s election campaign reminded me of the Ralph Waldo Emerson quotation:
“The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”
At the start of the campaign I was happy that a larger majority could allow May to fight of the hard Brexiters in the Conservative Party and therefore win my vote. Now I don’t know whether to support my ‘pleasant’ local Tory MP or give my protest vote to the LibDems.
I did read a couple of pages of the Labour manifesto, but lost count of the number of quangos they were going to create and was completely turned off by the irrational hatred of ‘big business’ and the spend, spend, spend mentality.
So one day before the election and am an ‘undecided’.
Though I live in South London, I’ve been up to Ealing and Acton to campaign for Joy Morrissey, and while I agree that her campaign should be more focused on her independent qualities, I do think her’s is a vote worth casting.
Obviously, I am not from your area, though I’m more than willing to accept Rupa Huq is a good constituent MP. From a national perspective however, this year’s is an election of great importance though.
Nationally I’ve heard of Rupa Huq only a couple of times – on her questionable defence of Naz Shah in THAT anti-Semitism debacle, and also in her opposition to Corbyn. Her opposition to Corbyn is something that I share, but also the exact reason why I wouldn’t vote for her.
While I agree that more “Maybots” are the last thing we need, I think May’s power has now passed its peak, and her own party will start providing the scrutiny the country needs. That seems to be what George Osborne thinks from his editorial in today’s Standard too.
I don’t think Jeremy Corbyn is what the country needs as we Brexit, and a smaller majority for Theresa May makes it harder for her to make compromises with the hard-right of the party. While Joy Morrissey did campaign to leave, I don’t think she’s part of this wing.
Corbyn however will use every vote for his candidates as an endorsement of him as he tries to stay on as leader – and that’s only if he loses mind. Polls have been tightening, and while I think May will still win, it is exactly marginals like yours where this battle is being fought.
That’s why I would urge you – perhaps no surprise here from a Conservative campaigner! – to vote for Joy: she knows and cares about the area well (like Rupa Huq, I admit), but it’s the national question that would determine how I would vote.
A vote for Joy is the vote most suited towards a Britain that makes the most of Brexit, whilst still holding May to account – be that from within her own party’s sensible wing, or from a Labour party under a new leader in the coming years.