Who is winning here?

With the last week of the by-election in progress, each of the parties is keen to suggest that they will be the likely victor come Thursday.

Labour claim a swing to them from the Conservatives in a Council by-election in Hounslow yesterday. Only marred by the slight nuisance that the Conservatives won, and Labour lost a Council seat to the Liberal Democrats in neighbouring Haverstock in Camden.

The Liberal Democrats add to their momentum claim with the suggestion in the Times that “two senior Conservatives… do not think they can win”.

The Conservatives meanwhile, not to be outdone claim two more Labour defectors in their news in brief, and make the claim that in the bookies have “put the Liberal Democrats firmly in third place pushing them completely out of the race”.

Interesting claim, I went on to Betfair to check this:

betfair-odds.jpg

Third was correct, completely out of the race though seems a bit of a stretch given the difference between their positions is neglible, with Labour ahead. In fact given Labour start with a 24% lead, what the betting seems to say is it’s extremely close.

So everything to play for in the next five days, and I’ve got to make my own mind up soon as well.

UPDATED: Alan (comment 1) is quite right there is a dispute between Labour and the Conservatives about the quality of the latest defection claim, given the two individuals were once Labour Councillors, but were then expelled from Labour for running as independents in Hounslow, see here.

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More leaflets

The Liberal Democrats love my letterbox, I have two leaflets from them today. One on slightly glossy A3 papers is about the NHS and makes some pointed remarks about the Conservative record on the NHS and suggests their candidate Tony Lit doesn’t use it, which I suppose is possible. Certainly on an unkind reading of Tony’s latest news story which seems to make a visit to Ealing Hospital sound quite an unfamiliar outing for him.

My uncle is a doctor and is constantly moaning about the way the NHS has changed in recent years, and pretty much most of the years before that, working for the NHS is clearly not good for your health.  

The other is a folded A4 asking whether or not my “Post Office is on Labour’s secret hit list?”. It invites me to fill in a petition against Post Office closures. Unfortunately Post Offices don’t play any great role in my life beyond buying stamps and getting annoyed about standing in long queues to post parcels, but then come to think about it maybe there’s a reason for those long queues, maybe I will sign it.

The Conservatives have also sent me a newsletter, which I’m afraid is more about David Cameron wanting me to vote for Tony Lit, and less about why I’d want to vote for either of them.

There is some substance on the Conservative opposition to the West London tram, which the Liberal Democrats also oppose. It’s not though an issue that gets me very excited either way, although the Liberal Democrats have caught Mr. Sharma being a naughty boy in voting for it and then appearing to say otherwise. He also seems to have forgotten about the tram in a visit by Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly here. Oddly she came to listen to Ealing’s commuters but no one mentioned the tram…

For tramophobes though there is a good long list of the arguments against here. If it seems like a long rant to you, or rather sequence of very detailed mini-ones, then you may gather why I’m not dwelling much on the issue on this blog. Life is too short.

On the subject of long rants there’s a ‘have your say’ on the Labour party website, which has some corkers including what appears to be a complete history of Sikh sectarian struggles. Well worth a visit if you have a spare lifetime or two.

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Wrist slapping

A second comment from Liberal Democrat candidate Nigel Bakhai has put me in my place on whether or not a focus on the very local, matters for our MP. Still no blog-comment love from Tony Lit or Virendra Sharma.

He writes:

“E-mail : nigel@ealinglibdems.org.uk
URL    : http://www.ealinglibdems.org.uk
Comment:
I think it is for the public to judge what an MP should do – MPs are after all there to work on our behalf.

In my experience people do want MPs who deal with the big issues of policy and are interested in international matters, but they also want MPs who will take up the very local matters in their own street too – as do I, which is why that’s the combination I’m standing on. With me people will get an MP who wants to improve our local health services, bring British troops home from Iraq soon and who will also continue to campaign on the very local issues of dumped rubbish, graffiti grot spots etc.

We will see next week what my neighbours think of that combination!”

I stand correct, unless he doesn’t win of course… by way of compensation Nigel you may enjoy this random Liberal Democrat poster that appears to have made it’s way briefly into Virendra Sharma’s campaign video on YouTube.

Lib Dem poster


It’s quite a fun video, shortly after this flyby, we see Mr. Sharma walking with some men banging drums while on his mobile phone. We can only imagine the conversation:”What…! hello…! no, you’ll have to speak up Gordon…! yes I’m Ealing…! road-works… no…! it’s my band… we’re on the next season of Britain’s Got Talent…! what do you mean the last seaon got won by a Liberal Democrat Councillor… bad line… bye Gordon…!”

He then gives a short, comptent speech, marred slightly by nervously clutching his own postcards and occasionally inadvertently picking the nose of his own photo. Cleaning up parts of Ealing the Liberal Democrats cannot reach perhaps…

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Too much already

The Liberal Democrats have gone a bit frantic in their desire to win the Internet campaign. I’ve had to wade through a bunch of press releases on their site today. Quality not quantity people, please!

Nigel Bakhai apparently is launching a “massive clean-up campaign”, this presumably to complement the “massive response” to his previous survey. In it he lists various problems that could apply to anywhere such as “litter, grafitti, broken pavements and dangerous potholes”, and has a nice picture of him sitting next to a load of cardboard boxes in a car park that could be outside any supermarket.

The next big story is about fly-posting on Lady Margaret Road… 

Another on rat problems caused by dumping

Another on flooding in Lammas Park… another about more fly-tipping…

It’s all a bit ‘local Councillor’…. which is fine, but we’re electing the MP on the 19th, not Ealing Council. If my MP is busy agonising about every crisp packet blowing down Ealing Broadway, then I have my doubts about whether they are spending enough time looking at government legislation.

In fairness there is also a story about helping a local school by liaising between the Council and government and a natty online health survey. But then if you’re going to put the word ‘Focus’ on every leaflet you’re putting through my door, then please… show some.

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Conservative MP caught faking?

A bit of a coup for Liberal Democrat blogger Mark Pack who has exposed Conservative MP Grant Shapps, the Conservative party’s campaign organiser in Ealing Southall, and apparent web guru for attempting to pose as a Liberal Democrat activist when commenting on a blog. Unfortunately for the web-whizz he was logged into his You Tube account when making the post, so it appeared under his own name. Full analysis here.

 

This left him making the rather damaging comment that “realistically we’re not going to win” in his own name, which no doubt will soon be appearing on Liberal Democrat and Labour leaflets soon.

However later today a rather dubious denial appeared on Iain Dale’s blog which suggests that his account was hacked due to a easily accessible password of “1234”, which has now been changed. There are though now several dozen muggers in Ealing all looking out for Mr. Shapps who reckon they’ve a fair bet on guessing his PIN number should they secure his bank card.

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Sixth defection wobble

Accusations are flying between the Conservative and Labour camps today over whether or not a sixth Labour Councillor, Zahida Abbas Noori had defected or not.

Outrageous lies according to Labour HQ, the fastest double-rat in history according to Conservative blogger Iain Dale. Neither side though comes out of the incident/non incident (take your pick) looking good.

Something though is clearly going very wrong in respect of unity in the local Labour party, so bad that they’ve had to issue a statement headlined “Sikh community unites behind Labour candidate”.  

On one happy note though the Conservative-run Ealing Council hasn’t yet noticed the shift of allegiance of at least five of Labour’s Councillors. This must be the much trumpeted improvement in efficiency that forms a cornerstone of the Conservative campaign. Either that or Council Officers are very foresighted as they’ll all be back next week.

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Five Labour Councillors defect

Late blogging tonight, having being mildly distracted by filling in a Liberal Democrat survey on local health issues. Although given this blog, I’m not sure who at their campaign HQ might be reading my response. 

 

The big story of the day was the defection of five Labour Councillors to the Conservatives, including the formerly ambitious rival to Virenda Sharma, Gucharan Singh. I have to say on the surface it smacks a little of sour grapes and sectarianism. Singh and friends are Sikh, Sharma is a Hindu, both are large minority communities in Southall.

It’s not clear to me what policy matters encouraged this Damscene conversion, largely because the five Councillors don’t mention any, other than being mildly impressed with the way the Conservatives are running the Council. Either way though it’s good news for the Tory campaign and bad news for Labour.

 The Liberal Democrat take on the matter is that both sides ‘are in chaos’, although it’s unclear if their claim about a former Conservative independent candidate Gulbash Singh running is still correct, given the Conservatives are claiming he has dropped his own bid to back Tony Lit.

The Liberal Democrats also feel the momentum is still with them after claiming some of their ‘best canvassing for a decade’, whatever that means in substance. Still the election is proving to be far from dull!

 

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