#ELLGE19 Election Preview: Lewisham East – ‘We are Labour and always will be’

Catford Centre, Lewisham East Pic: Kevan

From affluent Blackheath Village’s independent shops and cafes to the more deprived southern wards suffering from a decade of Tory austerity, the message is clear: Labour will win in Lewisham East, but without much enthusiasm from voters. 

And while some areas have been targeted by the Tories in local elections due to an increase in average income and median age, this strongly Remain seat is likely to stay safely in the hands of Labour’s candidate, Janet Daby.  

Voices from the streets:

I have been finding it hard to engage with this election. While I typically vote Labour, I am feeling ambiguous as I am uncomfortable with the issue of antisemitism. But in terms of the campaign so far, Labour’s policies are very exciting and positive. It is clear that they are the party which cares about inequality. 

Natasha Vicars, 48, artist

I am feeling very fed up. I have politician fatigue! I feel that they are all out of touch. Since the referendum I feel we have lost our way a little bit. I’m still not sure if I’ll vote.

Sandra Jenna, 30, shopkeeper

I have voted Labour all my life. Even though this election has been a catastrophic campaign so far, that won’t change. Boris Johnson is a shameful man and his party are evil. We are Labour and always will be.

Jim Longs, 67, retired HGV driver
Affluent Blackheath shares similarities with neighbouring Greenwich Pic: Des Blenkinsopp

Daby has represented Lewisham East since the by-election of 2018 to replace sitting MP Heidi Alexander – who had increased her majority in 2015 and 2017 but resigned to work for Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

The by-election saw the Labour vote fall from 68% to 50%, but turnout was significantly lower than previous elections. 

Daby was a Labour Councillor in Lewisham and was appointed deputy mayor just prior to her election as MP. She is also the founding director of The Whitefoot and Downham Community Food Plus Project, an organisation which fights to combat food poverty and isolation.

She has lived in the constituency for over 22 years.

Lewisham east constituency. Pic: OpenStreetMap

The constituency voted almost 65% in favour of remaining a member of the European Union and pro-European candidates have been chosen by almost all parties.

Stopping Brexit is key policy for Labour, Lib Dem and Green candidates. 

Daby said: “I want to see us retain as many of the benefits associated with EU membership as possible and ideally we would simply remain a member. The Tories threaten to divide our country with a reckless Brexit while our public services, schools and housing continue to suffer.”

The Lib Dem’s candidate, Ade Fatukasi, told Eastlondonlines: “London is a liberal city and my priority is stopping Brexit so we can protect our city’s values of freedom, acceptance of each other and collaboration to use those differences to create positive change in our borough.”

The young Lib Dem candidate grew up in Lewisham and now works as a technology consultant. He was originally selected to stand in Dulwich and West Norwood for the Lib Dems, but they stood aside in this seat due to a Remain Alliance agreement between pro-EU parties. The original candidate for Lewisham East, Chris Maines, stood aside to allow Ade to experience a general election. 

Ade will be running alongside Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah of The Green Party. She became a local clean air campaigner following the death of her daughter in 2013 from a rare form of asthma. 

The former teacher, who lives in Hither Green, set up the Ella Roberta Family Foundation, which works to increase awareness of asthma in schools and communities. Adoo-Kissi-Debrah is also running a pro-EU campaign.

She said: “I know Lewisham residents now want to see real change, and a stronger, healthier Lewisham. They are sick of party-political infighting and want to see the real problems they have being championed in Parliament.”

The Tory candidate is Sam Thurgood who has lived in Lewisham since 2012. He works in the NHS advising on real estate and is a charity trustee. Thurgood was formerly chair of East Lewisham Conservatives. In stark contrast to his pro-EU opponents, he is campaigning to get a Brexit deal approved in parliament so that the UK can leave the EU. 

He said: “It is a great privilege to be fighting to represent my home constituency, and I look forward to the campaign ahead.”

All 2019 Candidates: Janet Daby (Labour), Ade Fataukasi (Liberal Democrats), Sam Thurgood (Conservative), Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah (Green Party), Wesley Derek Bruce Pollard (Brexit Party), Elder Roger Mighton (Independent), Richard Galloway (Young People’s Party), Maureen Martin (Christian People’s Alliance)

Lewisham East results 2017 general election

Result: Labour hold (Majority: 21,213)

Turnout: 47,201

CandidatePartyVotesVote (%)Change (%)
Heidi AlexanderLab32,07267.912.3
Peter FortuneCon10,85923.00.7
Emily FrithLD2,0864.4-1.3
Storm PoorunGreen8031.7-4.0
Keith ForsterUKIP7981.7-7.4
Willow WinstonInd3550.80.8
Maureen MartinCPA2280.5-0.2

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