The Labour Party has been emailing the news that Andy Slaughter, MP for Hammersmith since 2010, has been reselected to defend the seat next year. “The serving MP achieved a clean sweep, with all branches, affiliates and party forums that participated in the ballot voting for Andy to take on the Conservatives in 2015” they tell. There is a good reason for this display.
Local Tories dislike their Labour opponents intensely; they dislike Slaughter yet more. This is because, despite Pa Broon’s unpopularity in 2010, he held off a strong challenge from Shaun Bailey – a sound bloke who The Blue Team were lucky to have on board – and is hardworking and popular. Added to this is the loss of Hammersmith and Fulham council in local elections last month.
Moreover, the Tories had already selected their candidate for next year’s contest, as was revealed at Conservative Home by Harry Phibbs (he does? No surprise there) last December. Charlie Dewhirst (good Yorkshire name) is a councillor in Ravenscourt Park ward alongside Phibbs, who, following the pleasantries, tells us what kind of contest can be expected by accusing Slaughter of dishonesty.
So it’s going to be dirty, as befits the Hammersmith and Fulham disciples of The New Conservatism. And Phibbs comes as close as he can bear to admitting the Tories have little chance of victory: “For the Conservatives to gain Hammersmith at the next election will certainly be a challenge”. Any positives? “The opening of the West London Free School”. Maybe not, Hal, see HERE.
Yes, Free Schools are not the great electoral asset he might have imagined. What might also count against Dewhirst is that he “has worked on plans to replace the Hammersmith Flyover with a tunnel”. That scheme, as I noted back in March, was a non-starter, unless the cost estimates were revised substantially upwards and significant parts of West London real estate demolished.
And Phibbs’ claims of dishonesty don’t stand up to scrutiny well: “At the last election Labour put out leaflets to council tenants claiming the Conservatives would move them to Barking and Dagenham”. Hal, the only reason we didn’t find out the reality of that one is that your party were turfed out before the scheme that would have displaced them (West Kensington and Gibbs Green “redevelopment”) went ahead.
The Dewhirst candidacy has also not got off to a good start, having been declared on the premises of that West London Free School that isn’t as popular as Phibbs thought. So when he concludes “There will certainly be a lively 18 months coming up in Hammersmith politics. After which, Charlie Dewhirst will make an excellent MP for the constituency”, he leaves open the possibility of the most likely outcome.
Whatever his suitability, Dewhirst ain’t going to get elected. End of story.