Waltham Forest is the borough that gave us Norman Tebbit and Iain Duncan Smith. But it is Lab/Lib Dem-run Council. This Thursday the Conservatives have a chance to gain two seats. John Moss reports.
Let’s face it, most by-elections are not that exciting. Most are pretty much forgone conclusions before they even start, with one party well ahead and the traditional low turnout meaning an almost certain
win for the incumbent. But some do matter. Some are deeply significant and herald major shifts in political opinion.
The Millwall by-election in Tower Hamlets in September 2004 saw the first ever Conservative to be elected to Tower Hamlets Council, or to any of the predecessor Councils that made up that Authority. That was
followed in 2006 by the election of seven Conservatives and – before the ruling Labour Group abolished it – a brief spell for the Conservatives as the official opposition in that Council.
This week, there will be another significant election in East London.
In 2006, one of the six wards in Waltham Forest which form part of Iain
Duncan Smith’s Chingford & Woodford Green constituency, fell to the
Liberal Democrats, with one Conservative losing by just 19 votes.
This, despite polling our highest ever total in that ward.
This week, two of the three seats we lost are up for grabs, following
the sad death of one Lib-Dem Councillor and the illness of another.
This election follows immediately on from another in Chingford,
caused by the sad death of a long serving Conservative councillor. That
one we won, reasonably comfortably. This one will be much, much closer.
But winning will herald a reverse of a thirty year decline for the
Conservatives in Waltham Forest and a real opportunity to change the
perception of the party in this
part of London.
We have two strong, local candidates. One runs the local "civic"
society, the other has a disabled child and campaigns ceaselessly for
better facilities for similarly afflicted children across London.
There’s a big local issue – a plan for a huge Tesco store in our small
village centre – and, of course, the Lib-Dems are propping up a Labour
administration, rather than taking power with our support.
Canvassing have been solid, every night, weekdays and Saturday and
Sunday, we’ve been out there knocking on doors. Several rainforests
have sacrificed themselves on the Alter of our in-Touches and their
Focuses. Yet, we’re not quite there and we’re not quite sure we will be, come Thursday night/Friday morning.
Have you ever experienced a truly momentous by-election win? I’ve been
lucky enough to be at one in Hackney, Millwall and Crewe & Nantwich
(OK parliamentary so not strictly comparable), but they are rare. If
you want to share the experience – and knock few doors for us. Please do get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org will always find me.