Chiswick Plays Key Role In Election Victory For Local MPs
Big swing to Labour in W4 helped Ruth Cadbury and Rupa Huq win huge majorities
Joe Bourke, Mary Macleod, Ruth Cadbury and Mary Harpley (Returning Officer)
The two MPs in the constituencies that cover the Chiswick area benefited from a large swing to the Labour Party which has been attributed to anger over Brexit in a largely 'Remain' area, an increase young people voting, and concern over the Conservative's social care plans.
Dubbed the 'Revenge of the Remainers' the swing towards Labour in Chiswick, estimated at over 18% for local MP Ruth Cadbury (Brentford & Isleworth) gave her and Labour's Rupa Huq (Ealing Central & Acton) another chance to represent the constituency in Parliament but this five figure majorities rather than wafer thin ones.
Ruth Cadbury with her mother Jill, husband Nick and son Sam
In a stunning turnaround, the Conservative vote in the the three Chiswick wards in Brentford & Isleworth (Turnham Green, Homefields and Riverside) collapsed and Labour won over half the votes in each, a swing of over 18%.
In the 2015 election, Labour held about 34% of the vote in Riverside, with Turnham Green and Homefield at around 32%. This time, Labour managed to get over 50% of the votes in the three wards. In Turnham Green the total Labour vote was 2591 votes, the Conservatives won 2203 and the Lib Dems 365. Although figures are not available it is believed that this pattern was mirrored in Southfield ward which is in the Ealing Central and Acton constituency.
Disappointed Conservative Party members and activists will spend the weekend analysing where things went wrong. One source told Chiswickw4.com that there were more Conservative votes from areas such as south Hounslow, than from Chiswick. Mary Macleod said that she was very disappointed with the result and that she had not had negative feedback during the campaign in Chiswick.
But a Labour source said that despite early fears that the party would struggle to retain the seat, things began to change and hopes mounted. "In the days and weeks before polling day, we started to see a change on the doorstep. People who were against Jeremy Corbyn's leadership were starting to look again at the party. They were able to overcome their personal concerns and switch allegiances."
MP Ruth Cadbury told Chiswickw4.com that the reaction she got from Remainers in Chiswick following the first hustings organised by the Chiswick Calendar, led her to believe that there were people prepared to vote Labour for the first time in their lives. She said there was more feedback on Brexit from Chiswick voters than elsewhere in the borough. School cuts, the NHS and social care, were the chief concerns elsewhere but Brexit and social care were the big issues in Chiswick. The Conservatives planned to fund social care through taking the value of a person's property up to the last £100,000 would have hit the Chiswick area particularly hard.
Following her re-election, Ruth Cadbury said, "For my vote to increase by 10,000 to over 35,000 means that many local people voted Labour for the first time – I met hundreds of people during the campaign who told me their concerns about austerity and Brexit, and welcomed Labour's message of hope, offering clear costed commitments to policies that the country needs.
"Theresa May’s snap election was wholly unnecessary and was called at a time when the country required stability and unity after the results of the EU Referendum, yet in what she set up as a referendum on her leadership, the country called her bluff.
"On the EU, I can assure you that I will fight for the UK to remain in the single market, for the rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, workers ' rights, EU regulations on air quality; opposing a hard Brexit every step of the way.
"Like many , I am very concerned about the implications of the. Tories doing a deal with the DUP; a party opposed to LGBT rights and to a Woman's right to choose, who have been embroiled in the bio-fuels scandal yet are climate-change deniers, and who support a hard Brexit.
A number of factors influenced the result in both constituencies. Turnout in Brentford & Isleworth was high, at 72.5 % (up from 68 per cent in 2015) and a late surge in registration appeared to benefit Labour. Ruth Cadbury also picked up votes from the Green Party, following Diane Scott's decision to stand down. The UKIP vote in Brentford & Isleworth which was largely expected to benefit Mary Macleod, was actually split between Labour and the Conservatives.
Postal voting increased from 12.3% in 2015 to 12.9% an indication of a student vote which might have been pleased with the Labour manifesto pledge on tuition fees. With the seat being so marginal many may have chosen to register to vote in their home constituency rather than where they are studying. In Ealing Central and Acton controversial columnist Katie Hopkins claimed to have seen indications that the postal vote in the constituency was 'not looking good' for the Conservatives prompting an investigation by Ealing Council into how she got this information.
Liberal Democrat candidate for Brentford and Isleworth Joe Bourke said he started to see changes on the doorstep a month before polling day. "There was a lot of discontent in Chiswick with the Conservative approach to Brexit, we were getting strong voting intentions from Conservative Remainers. In Brentford and Syon, the feedback was that they could not vote for Jeremy Corbyn. It was clear at that time that Ruth Cadbury seemed to be in trouble. But Jeremy Corbyn ran a good campaign and things began to change dramatically."
Another source said that the social care issue 'drove people in Chiswick over the top'.
"People in Chiswick with equity in their houses were against the 'dementia tax' just as they had opposed the Mansion tax, and Labour's Garden tax some years ago. Residents who might have voted Lib Dem became concerned about tactical voting and decided that a second Brexit referendum probably wasn't going to happen. The fallout after the terrorist incidents where Theresa May was blamed for cuts in police, was also a possible factor in creating an unpopular image of the government," said another local political source.
According to a Lord Ashcroft post-poll survey, Labour voters made their minds up much later in the campaign than those who backed the Tories. More than half (57%) of those who voted Labour made their decision in the last month, and more than a quarter (26%) in “the last few days”. This would seem to confirm the anecdotal reports from Chiswick, suggesting that people made the decision to switch allegiances in the last fortnight of the campaign.
The scale of the swing surprised candidates and their teams as the Chiswick result became apparent early on during the count and the Mary Macleod camp privately conceded defeat before the result was announced, by Hounslow Mayor Sue Sampson, almost two hours earlier than expected, at 3.30am.
Ruth Cadbury described her win as 'a victory for hope'. She also thanked Diane Scott of the Green Party for deciding not to run for election in an effort to put votes her way.
One surprise was the split of the UKIP vote, which had been expected to go towards Mary Macleod, but the UKIP votes were in fact split between the two candidates.
Labour MP Rupa Huq seems to have benefited from her defiance of the Labour party whip when she voted against Article 50. 72% of her constituents were against leaving the EU in the referendum last year. Anecdotally a higher turnout from younger voters boosted her support including from students who registered themselves in the previously highly marginal constituency rather than their university town.
She also was boosted by the withdrawal of the Green Party candidate and the revelation that senior Liberal Democrat figures had urged party members to vote for her rather than their own candidate Jon Ball.
At the start of the campaign it was widely predicted that the narrow majority of the Labour incumbents in both Brentford & Isleworth and Ealing Central & Acton would be easily overtaken due to the national swing towards the Conservatives. Brentford & Isleworth was revealed to be the constituency with most bets placed at Ladbrokes.
Most polling companies were still predicting a large Tory majority but towards the end of the campaign, as chiswickw4.com revealed, there were signs that things had changed.
A YouGov poll the week before the election was the first to predict a win for Ruth Cadbury as earlier it had been assumed that her slim majority and the national swing against Labour would hand the seat to Mary Macleod. YouGov is now calling the Ealing Central & Acton seat 'Safe Labour.'
The bookies had been busy in the constituency with Ladbrokes saying that there had been more betting activity in this seat than any other in the UK. Before betting was suspended their odds on Mary Macleod winning had shortened from 4/1 on to 15/8 with Ruth Cadbury at 11/8.
There will be much analysing of the figures by all parties this weekend, but the fact is that the traditional Conservative vote in Chiswick changed in this election and diehard supporters switched allegiances, changing the pattern of a lifetime.
June 12, 2017