It is a chilly Wednesday morning on Shoreditch High Street in Hackney and the campaign for the election of a lifetime is in full swing. Or not, according to local man, Daniel Clark: ”people are just bored, people have just had enough, all the parties now are letting us down, and are just not listening.”
His indifference may be due to the fact that Hackney South and Shoreditch is one of the safest Labour seats in the country and on December 12, Meg Hillier is predicted to repeat her 2017 victory which gave her an overwhelming 37,931 majority. The Labour Party have dominated the constituency since its creation in 1974, securing substantial majorities in each election.
Voices from the streets
“We are all sick and tired of voting because we thought we had done all that. [This constituency] has always been a Labour stronghold, but the lines are getting blurred – people are just bored, people have just had enough, all the parties now are letting us down, and are just not listening.”Daniel Clark, 40, from Graham Road in Hackney Central.
This constituency is a “convincing Labour area – I’d be very surprised if there were any upsets.”Ross Humphries, 24, from Dalston
However, given the prevailing political climate, rife with division and frustration, it is not beyond the realms of imagination that an opposition candidate could oust Hiller from office.
Originally elected in 2005, Hillier has held a series of senior positions in government, including Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office, and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. She recently failed in her attempt to become Speaker of the House.
She is particularly focussed on housing and the environment, saying that the Hackney housing sector is “so squeezed” with overcrowded conditions, whilst on the environment she said: “we need to need to reach a net zero carbon economy as soon as possible”.
Hillier’s primary opposition comes from Mark Beckett, the Conservative Party candidate. Since 2010, Beckett has been the Executive Director of the Enterprise Forum, an organisation that ensures business involvement in the development of Conservative Party policy. Beckett previously stood in the 2018 Hackney Council elections for Hoxton West.
Beckett, who lives locally, told Eastlondonlines that he wanted to improve housing, tackle “unfair increases in rent” and provide “genuinely affordable new homes.” Beckett also pledges to support local businesses by “campaigning against rising rents”, and to make “our streets safe with more money for our police.”
Dave Raval, for the Liberal Democrats, may threaten the size of Hillier’s majority if ‘Remain’ voters are dissuaded by Labour’s perceived ambiguity over Brexit. Raval is the CEO of Loftzone, a green start-up which specialises in selling environmental home improvement products.
Raval unsuccessfully contested both the 2010 and 2017 General Elections. He also stood as a candidate for the Mayor of Hackney in 2016, losing to Labour incumbent Philip Glanville.
On Brexit, Raval was a joint borough organiser for the Remain campaign during the 2016 Referendum, favouring a closer relationship with Europe.
Raval pledges to address “fuel poverty” in the borough. “We need to do more to insulate more homes,” he said, quoting the 10,000 deaths a year in UK that have resulted from people being unable to afford energy costs.
Elsewhere, the Brexit Party have positioned a candidate to soak up any dwindling support for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU in the constituency.
Robert Sidney Lloyd, 56, is a qualified solicitor who has been a partner of two successful law firms in the City of London.
Lloyd told Eastlondonlines he would: “Stand to ensure the government moves swiftly to bring about a clean Brexit and end the delay and subversion of Brexit that the last Parliament was responsible for.”
At the age of 28, Green Party candidate Tyrone Scott is contesting his first General Election.
Experienced as a housing and communities’ advisor with the national housing charity ‘Shelter’, Scott has pledged to address Hackney’s “broken housing system”.
Speaking to Eastlondonlines, Scott said: “I will support The Green Party’s Green New Deal, which includes the building of 100,000 social homes per year”.
The constituency, which has a population of more than 73,000 encompasses the wards of Chatham, De Beauvoir, Hackney Central, Haggerston, Hoxton, King’s Park, Queensbridge, Victoria and Wick. Hackney is, of course, a vibrant borough, with 45 per cent of its population under 30 years old. It is culturally and ethnically diverse, with a significant non-white population.
Also, as an inner-city London borough, Hackney is blighted with issues linked to poverty and socio-economic inequality. It’s unemployment rate, which currently sits at 7.5 per cent, is rated as “very high” nationally, and levels of poor health remain “high” (6.5 per cent).
In the 2016 referendum, constituents voted to remain by 77.9 per cent; this was the ninth highest support for remain in the country.
Housing remains a pressing issue, as just over two-fifths of housing is socially rented, whilst the privately rented sector continues to grow. Nationally, Hackney has seen the biggest average increase in house prices over the last 20 years.
All 2019 candidates:
- Meg Hillier (Labour)
- Mark Beckett (Conservative and Unionist Party)
- Dave Raval (Liberal Democrats)
- Tyrone Scott (Green Party)
- Robert Sidney Lloyd (The Brexit Party)
- Jonty Leff (Workers Revolutionary Party)
2017 General Election Results:
Result: Labour HOLD (Majority: 37,931, 68.5%)
Turnout: 55,354 (66.6%)
|Dave Raval||Liberal Democrats||3,168||5.7|
|Rebecca Johnson||Green Party||1,522||2.7|