Saturday 8 May 2021

Many thanks to everyone who supported me in the Edgware By Election

 The result of the Edgware By Election has just been announced. I was not surprised to learn that I had come last out of the four candidates. The results were pretty much in line with the 2018 Council election and although I had hoped to at least improve on this, in the circumstances, this wasn't really feasable. I would like to wish the victor Nick Mearing Smith the very best of luck in his role representing the people of Edgware. It is a big job and I hope he steps up to the plate.

For some perspective, here are the 2018 and 2021 results

Edgware 2021

NICK MEARING-SMITHConservative Party candidate3,427 (elected)
SAM MURRAYGreen Party candidate343

Turnout: 44.2%

Edgware 2018

SurnameFirst NameDescriptionVotes
BarberStephen DavidLiberal Democrat273
BilbowAndrea LesleyLabour Party1311
Dhanani-SumariaKunalGreen Party407
Ferrero TijeraJose-AngelLiberal Democrat252
FreedmanLinda MargotThe Conservative Party Candidate (Elected)3370
GordonBrian ColinThe Conservative Party Candidate (Elected)3567
KhnifessAmirLabour Party1077
ManaloMariaLiberal Democrat268
ScammellJordan CaileighLabour Party1019
WardleSarah JaneThe Conservative Party Candidate (Elected) 3289

Firstly there are a few things to note. The Nick Mearing Smith vote was a hundred or so fewer votes than Brian Gordon, the leading Tory in 2018 received. The Labour candidate polled 150 higher. The Green Candidate polled around 50 less and I got 19 less than the leading Lib Dem last time. 

So why did I stand? When Brian Gordon sadly passed away, I was keen to stand for the Lib Dems. This was not because I expected to win the seat. When the leading party has polled over fifteen times more than you, that would require a miracle. I did however believe that it presented a wonderful opportunity to engage with people in Edgware, discuss local issues and engage them with the local concerns of neglect. Brian died last September. My expectation was that  a By Election would be called fairly quickly and that as the Pandemic seemed to be in full retreat, there would be the opportunity to mount a proper local campaign, concentration exclusively in Edgware. I had expectations that the Lib Dems could use the campaign as an excellent opportunity to build a proper network of supporters in Edgware and recruit a few new activists. I drew up a plan of action. But the by election was not called and the country descended into a lethal second and third wave. When it was announced that the by election would be held on the same day as the Mayoral elections, I knew any realisitic prospect of a good result had disappeared. I'd learned to my cost in 2010 that no one is interested in discussing local elections when there is a more important strategic election being held. 

On my recent visits to Edgware, when I introduced myself as a Lib Dem, I was met with a response "who do you think is better, Sadiq Khan or Sean Bailey?". Labour voters were reasonably hostile as they were worried that a good Lib Dem show might undermine Khan and the GLA campaign for Anne Clarke. Talking to local Conservatives, it is clear that most voted by post. By the time I was able to speak to them, they had already voted. Quite a few said that they'd have voted for me if they spoke to me before they'd cast their vote. They liked what I had to say, but the vote had been cast. I knew this would happen as the campaigning restrictions early in the campaign meant there was just not time to get a plan and get around enough houses. The Lib Dems locally also had other priorities, as they had to campaign for the GLA and Mayor in areas with a more solid support base.

Having said all of that, I am proud and pleased with what I achieved. One of the benefits of being a candidate is that it gives you a platform to raise issues. I had made a promise to friends that I would use that to the best of my ability to raise the profile of the causes I was highlighting. This I did. Talking to several staunch Conservatives, it became clear that the local Conservatives have made promises to sort out the mess that is the Railway Hotel. If nothing has happened by the time the Council elections next come around, they might find that they have some rather unhappy voters. 

I was also able to raise the scandal of the cladding campaign. This is something I've been following since the Grenfell fire. I am pleased to say that the Labour GLA Candidate Anne Clarke has realised that this is an important issue and has got involved and I will continue to talk about this in the coming weeks and months. 

Quite a few people have asked me "what is the point standing when there is little chance of winning?". My response is that if you don't buy a ticket, you have no chance at all. You have to raise the matters that are important to you.  An election where you cannot campaign at all at the start, where you can't go for a cup of tea or a beer after canvassing sessions, where you have to wear a mask and stand 2 metres from someone you are trying to talk to, is far from ideal. There are many things that are frustrating, but it is privelige to be given the opportunity and a delight to get out and meet people. I love talking to people, hearing their viewpoint. If all I wanted to do was get elected, I'd join Labour or the Tories, work hard and get offered a safe seat. Then I'd get elected, get a £10,000 a year allowance and end up putting my hand up to support things I didn't agree with or believe in. That isn't what I am all about. I'd much rather belong to a party aligned with my views, work my butt off and be myself. I firmly believe that sooner or later we will see a major realignment of UK politics. I do not believe that The Conservatives or Labour are fit for purpose, or that our electoral system delivers grown up government. I am not going to give up the fight. Are you?

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