General Election 2017: Who will win in Harlow?

Politics / Tue 6th Jun 2017 at 06:47pm

AS you may well know, Harlow is the classic swing seat. In 1997, Labour had a 10,000 majority. In 2015, Robert Halfon had a 8,000 majority. It is not that the voters of Harlow are fickle, it may well be that they are the true spirit of the rational choice model. They tend to buy into a candidate, bot locally and nationally.

In a recent interview with YH, Jerry Hayes admitted that his victory in ’83 was more to do with Margaret Thatcher and his defeat in ’97 was the coming of Tony Blair.

Since 2010, Robert Halfon has been assisted by the national picture but, in our opinion, his visibility, his synergy with local residents, his touch, manner, style and sheer ability have gone a long way to explaining why he now sits with a majority of over 8,000

A few weeks ago, we would have predicted that Mr Halfon would have increased his majority to over 10,000 but now we are not so sure. To be frank, Theresa May has run a pretty awful campaign. She clearly thought they could get a landslide of over 180. We think that will be anywhere between 90 and 110. Which would make it a phyrric victory for her and a moral victory for Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Corbyn has run a pretty good campaign, it has looked invigorated and, quite frankly, fun. He has surprised us. So has Labour’s Phil Waite. In many ways, Phil reminds us of that solid opening batsman in cricket that you just want to stay in and build an innings around. And in many ways he has but he has also looked engaged, enthused, in touch with his town and in tune with the political mood. Again, Phil Waite looks like he has really enjoyed it.

The same can be said of the very capable Hannah Clare from the Green Party, who is clearly a rising star in her party.

Lib-Dem Geoffrey Seeff has also had a lot of interesting things to say but may have been hampered by a lack of oomph nationally and a lack of profile locally. You feel the Harlow Lib Dems need to decide whether they are going to take Harlow politics seriously again and not just a series of cameo roles. We hope they do.

As for UKIP’s Mark Gough. Mark has been a bit up and down and it looks like it has been a solo effort with very little back up. This may be the end of the road of UKIP in Harlow but we hope that Mark is able to play a role in local politics.

There are many issues that the people of Harlow need to concern themselves with: the cuts to school budgets, the state of policing, the NHS crisis to name just a few. However, Robert Halfon may well have convinced them that there is a lot to be positive about in Harlow (and the villages). But we may well be in 1992 territory where enough voters will go for the devil they know rather than the left winger with baggage.

There is also the unpalatable truth that there are many many Harlow voters who inhabit the moderate ground of Tony Blair and Bill Rammell and will not return until they have a leader and a candidate. Go onto social media and you will see dozens and dozens of Harlow voters dismiss that out of hand but that is not where the 20,000 plus Conservative voters express themselves. You could easily call them the quiet majority.

In conclusion, we predict a Conservative hold but whereas three weeks ago, we though it might go up to 10,000 plus, we think there might be a slight reduction. Robert Halfon with a majority of 7,687.

Can we just say thank you to all the candidates for always making themselves available for interview and all running vibrant and thoughtful campaigns.

Our reporter will be at the count on Thursday night to bring you all the news.


Green: Hannah Ellen Clare
UKIP: Mark Gough
Conservative: Robert Halfon
Liberal Democrat: Geoffrey Seeff
Labour: Phil Waite

2015: Robert Halfon: Maj: 8,350 (48.9%).

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