Phil Taylor: Tony might just make it
Phil Taylor is one of the three councillors for Ealing's Northfield ward, part of the Ealing Southall constituency that is being contested on 19th July along with Sedgefield.
The local party was a bit shell shocked by the speed at which the by-election news came following on from the sad news of Piara Khabra's death. There are a large number of very active and ambitious members here, some of whom were a bit disappointed when new boy Tony Lit was selected for the seat on Thursday. The speed at which central office has moved has been impressive and Grant Shapps has motivated everyone with his enthusiasm. David Cameron hit the ground running too, tramping around Southall with the new candidate on Thursday, see Webcameron.
After last year's Ealing landslide which saw a total turnaround in the Borough the locals feel that Southall is ready for a change. Already there are 14 Conservative councillors in Ealing Southall against Labour's 18. In May 2006 Labour lost 9 seats in Ealing Southall to the Conservatives. The LibDems are nowhere with one councillor for the whole constituency. Given the LibDem performance in the last year the direction for them can only be downward.
Labour have dominated the constituency since anyone can remember but the neglect of 12 years of a Labour council and a lifetime being represented by Labour MPs has left Southall looking down-at-heel and poor. Southall's people are least affluent and least healthy in the borough. They suffer the worst crime. Labour simply hasn't got the solutions.
The reason that the Conservatives did so well last year was that they recognised that people wanted a basic level of delivery from the council before anything else happened. Clean streets, resurfaced roads, a feeling of security, all at a reasonable price. The council is visibly delivering on this agenda with massive extra spending on the environment, a new team of 50 PCSOs and a 1.9% rise in the council tax. All of this has been noticed in the constituency.
I met the candidate yesterday and he came across really well. A young, family man who understands the area. An Asian entrepreneur who wants to put something back. He has a clear understanding of local issues such as the Southall gasworks site and is ambitious for the area to get better rather to be left in dependency. I challenged him about his membership of the Party which is something that many of our members were concerned about. He simply could not run a radio station and be a party member. Ofcom would not wear it. He has severed his links with Sunrise Radio, his employer, and he will devote himself to campaigning and being an MP. I think he might just do it.