|Does 'Posh Chiswick' Not Matter?
Geography continues to feature in election debate
The battle for the Ealing Central and Acton constituency looks to be one of the most closely contested in the country with all three parties harbouring hopes of winning the seat.
Formerly, Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush, the seat was relatively safe Labour one held by Andrew Slaughter. Boundary changes have meant that it has become one of the few seats in the country where the three parties are more or less neck and neck.
The UK Polling Report has made a notional calculation based on the new constituency boundaries and the voting in 2005 that gives the Conservatives a tiny majority. By this calculation if they had been contesting this seat at the last election they would have won it by just 84 votes with 32.8% and Labour just behind on 32.6%. The Liberal Democrats are estimated to be getting just under 30% and, given the likely margin of error, this would qualify it as a winnable seat for them even before the recent surge of their party in the polls.
The Tories are aware that the constituency is going to be the scene of a closely fought battle and have wheeled out some big guns. This Wednesday the Mayor of London accompanied his old colleague from the GLA, Angie Bray in some campaigning.
They were spotted by Rupa Huq, Labour blogger and sister of Blue Peter's Konnie, who is standing for election to Ealing Council. She said on her blog , "This lunchtime I encountered BoJo and Angie Bray the millionaire Conservative candidate who only bought a house in the borough on her candidate selection (in posh Chiswick though not proper Ealing) at Ealing Broadway station."
When we asked Rupa about her comments she said, "of course not all Chiswick is posh but there is a big difference in house prices between W4 and W13."
Labour clearly feel that an association with the relatively small Chiswick enclave in the constituency is a potential embarrassment to the Tory candidate although what the voters in the part of W4 that is situated in Ealing borough will feel about the comments is a different matter.
Sitting ward councillor for the area, Liberal Democrat Gary Malcolm said, "To state 'posh Chiswick' the Labour candidate clearly hasn't been around all of Chiswick as every ward in West London (whether in Ealing, Chiswick, Brentford, Acton) has areas where the housing, health, parks etc. range from bad to good. I know in my ward examples of where the Council has not managed the housing at all effectively, leaving tenants in a bad position."
Angie Bray responded to the comments by saying, "I live in the Ealing ward called Southfield as I have always clearly stated which is in the constituency, unlike my Labour opponent who lives in Northolt." Her reticence about admitting to living in Chiswick has been reflected in her campaign literature.
She pointed out, "My opponents are also standing for the local council on the same day as the parliamentary election. I am firmly focusing on doing one job to the best of my ability on the public purse."
At the moment Southfield ward, which is made up of the 'Chiswick' bit of Ealing borough, comprises under a fifth of the total votes in the parliamentary constituency. In Council elections it has traditionally returned Liberal Democrat councillors although the Conservatives did take one seat in the last election. The Lib Dem candidate for the General Election, Jon Ball will be hoping that disputes over geography rather than policy between other parties will swing the seat in his direction.
April 30, 2010