Sunday, June 29, 2008

By- Election fight in Barking & Dagenham

Picture is of Labour Party activists from across London and Essex, meeting up yesterday to begin campaigning in Chadwell Heath Ward for Labour.

The ward had three Labour Councillors, one of whom has resigned for personal reasons. The vote will take place on Thursday. In the last election, the Tories had come a close 4th, but the BNP, flushed by their success elsewhere in the borough are now running a strong campaign.

Apologies for anyone I don’t personally know but in the picture is West Ham CLP, John Saunders, top Labour blogger Rupa Huq (and UNISON member), agent and Party regional officer (and Hackney Councillor) Rob Chapman and Sam. The excellent candidate, Margaret Mullane, is actually behind John, busy organising things.

Despite the “problems” the Party has at the moment, the turnout was pretty impressive for a ward by-election. As we left members from even as far away as Lambeth turned up. I understand that 35 members from outside Barking & Dagenham turned up to help out that day. As well as a good turn out from “Hope not Hate” in their bright yellow tee-shirts, handing out anti-fascist leaflets.

Many, many moons ago I use to work in Chadwell Heath. It is somewhere I have fond memories of. We worked Marks Gate part of the ward, which I do not know, most of which is a purpose built former London County Council (LCC) Estate. I thought that the estate was in quite good shape and looked after. There is open countryside around most of the estate.

The Labour voter ID was good – up-to-date and accurate. While, I am always somewhat skeptical about canvass returns I thought that we had a good reception. Even the “against” were quite polite, which makes a change when the BNP are in the running. There were lots of Tory leafleters running about. I did not see any of them actually knocking and speaking to people, which is possibly significant. We’re wait and see. I will try to fit in an evening before Thursday.

If you can help out - check out this post for details.

Of course, political campaigning is all hard work and no fun. You are out pounding the streets, knocking on doors, filling out your canvass sheets and generally fighting the good fight. It was purely in the interests of supporting a local mobile business therefore that our team stopped off for an ice cream - of course (with Barking and Dagenham Council GMB conveners, Sharon and Lewis).

Update: We lost but BNP kept out!

Terry Justice Conservative Party. Votes cast = 842. Elected
Dorien McIlroy Independent. Votes cast = 11
Margaret Mullane Labour Party. Votes cast = 691
Kerry Smith UK Independence Party. Votes cast = 142
James Webb British National Party. Votes cast = 564
Turnout was 33.15% Check Rupa post.

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