Thursday, February 15, 2024

West Hammers on tour: Wellingborough By election 15 Feb 24

This morning four of us (Alan, Ash, Me and Varghese - all of whom live in the West Ham Parliamentary constituency) drove down to Wellingborough to support the Labour Candidate, Gen Kitchen (former Newham Councillor) in this important by election. 

It took under 2 hours to get there and we had been directed to a community centre which was a campaign hub. It was thankfully, very well organised and we were speedily booked in, given leaflets and shown a video by Gen and the Labour Party GS, David Evans, on local issues and campaigning techniques.  There was also sandwiches and drinks available. 

There was no hanging about and we were soon allocated a Labour Party "board runner" to take us "on the knocker" and remind voters that this is election day and to get out the Labour vote. 

We bumped into Rita (another West Hammer) who was campaigning with "Sikhs 4 Labour". 

Kizzy led us on our first canvass session. She is a Labour Party media organiser and this was the first time she had led a canvass team and she did a great job. We went to the Finedon ward which comprised predominantly of traditional terraced houses, but there was many blocks of flats which were converted from shoe wear factories, which used to be a major employer in the area. 

The canvassing went well but we were approached by a shop workers who asked us if she was able to vote since she had no photo ID. She was disabled and had no passport or driving licence. Sadly she was not able to vote but we did suggest that she apply for a postal vote for next election. She was angry about being deprived of her right to vote and had wanted to support Gen. 

Another elderly voter told us that she had gone to the polling station but got turned away since she had forgotten to bring her photo ID with her. She said she would go back but she was clearly frail and not well. I suspect that she too will be deprived of her vote. 

We only saw one canvasser for any of the opposition parties (it may have been the Tory candidate but we were not sure). There was in the distance a mobile loudspeaker which I believe was ranting for a far right party but could not make out what they were saying.  

One person stopped me and asked me about Gen and was very supportive of Labour but said he was worried because he had been told that Keir Starmer had been the "lawyer" for the sex abuser, Jimmy Saville. I assured him that this is totally untrue and it is a shame that opposition parties are spreading such lies and misinformation. He seemed content with this. 

We stopped for coffee and cake at a local shop then went out again this time with Rob as our "Board Runner".  Good to meet up again at the community centre, with the Leader of Greenwich Council, Anthony Okereke. 

This 2nd session was now later in the day and we found more people at home after work and it became clear that many residents had either voted already or were about to vote and they were well motivated and keen to vote for Labour. 

One lady however, told me that she had "forgotten" who she and her partner had voted for that morning. Hmmnn... I suspect she not vote for us. 

Alan drove us there and back. According to Google fit I walked 20,343 steps today (8.73 miles). 

Result is due around 4am tomorrow morning. Fingers and toes crossed for Gen and her team. Will update tomorrow. 

Good luck to Damien Egan in the Kingswood byelection. Another great candidate. 

Update: Great news @Gvkitchen & @damienegan both elected!

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