Opinion: General Election 2024: Who will win the seat of Harlow and the villages?

Elections / Wed 3rd Jul 2024 at 01:57pm

WE have a habit of prefacing any prediction pieces by stating that our last winner at the Grand National was Minniehoma in 1994….Having said that, we often get close.

But this is just one editor’s opinion and so please take it in the spirit it is intended.

So here we go:

We thought that the Harlow District Council local elections would come down to one ward, Latton Bush and Stewards. It did. But there are many who wondered why, in 2024, a Labour group couldn’t regain a Tory council. The fact that the Tories retained Harlow District Council was national news.

What is (perhaps) psephologically significant is the suggestion that Harlow may be a wee bit of an outlier and a wee bit different, rather than a weathervane, come the General Election of July 2024.


Labour have a mighty mountain to climb. The Tory majority of 14,067 has, due to constituency changes, been re-calibrated to 16,694.

It would be no disgrace, despite all his efforts, if Chris Vince fell short.

Chris Vince and his colleagues have run a really impressive campaign. They have covered every square inch of the constituency. He has never ducked a question and has kept to his commitments to listen to the people of Harlow and the villages.

His colleagues call him dogged and he may well find that is actually a compliment. Chris is a sensitive fellow. His “walkout” after the local election defeat was not done out of hubris. It was, we believe and having got to know him for over a decade, with a sense that he felt he had let everyone down.

If Chris wins, he will need time to find his feet. He may need time to grow. He will certainly need to be a lot lot more ruthless. Especially in choosing roles such as Chief of Staff etc.

Whether he is giving time is another matter. We need someone who is going to petition and indeed demand better services for Harlow. That may need a straight talker and someone who won’t be talked down to. This is not a time for a Sgt Wilson from Dad’s Army: “I wonder if you would be so kind as to give us an update on a new hospital. No” OK….Fall in men….”

Our thoughts still return to the May elections. If Labour couldn’t unseat a Tory council in 2024, then are they really going to overturn a 17,000 majority?


On the flipside, first time candidate, Hannah Ellis couldn’t lose a 16,694 majority. Could she?

Hannah has run a really impressive campaign over the five weeks. Again, having got to know Ms Ellis over the last ten years, we always thought of her as a behind the scenes person. But even in five weeks, she has come on a long way.

Hannah’s story is remarkable. From growing up in a one-bedroomed flat in Katherine’s to being one of the most high respected and regarded advisers in the House of Lords.

You may not have noticed Baroness Vere, Lord Howard or Lord Roberts knocking at your door. (they stashed the ermine in the Land Rover) but they respect her so much that they canvassed at the drop of a hat.

But we may also have to factor in the amount of goodwill still there for Robert Halfon. And don’t go by social media. In 2019, you would have been convinced that he was going to lose by 14,000…

If Hannah became an MP, yes she would be a rookie, a novice but if she did, in a decimated Conservative Party, Hannah Ellis may be one of the architects behind their rebirth (see Blair, Brown and Mandelson in 1983).

Hannah may also have that air of ruthlessness that we just don’t see here but it is there alright but also access to the right people to…get….things….done.

Whereas, we see Chris as centre-left, we see Hannah as right wing. Certainly well right of Robert Halfon. That may not sit comfortably for some but, then again, look at Harlow’s voting record. Maybe Hannah is being (shock horror) political and signalling to the potential Reform voters as well as the 27,000 who voted Leave in 2016 and seem to be a bit frustrated again.

Reform UK

Which brings us to the subject of Reform. Hatfield Heath resident, Malcolm Featherstone may well be the most laid back of all Reform candidates in the country. You do wonder, if some might want him to be a bit more, you know, Reformy…but he is his own man and in some ways, like those Independent candidates, we have got to know over the years.

There are those who saw him at the Hustings and liked his mild mannered common sense approach. Others felt he was so off the pace on so many subjects that he couldn’t really be seen as a serious candidate. Not stopped quite a few from succeeding before.

Then again, you don’t need to go far from Malcolm to find people talking about Covid conspiracies and chem trails.

But perhaps that is missing the point. For the purposes of this election battle in Harlow, how many votes can Reform UK poll? If they get over 15% of the vote and that equates to say, over 7,000 how will that affect the result. (See UKIP 2015 for details).

One is inclined to believe that could work to Chris Vince’s advantage? That he could just sneak in on the rails (like Minniehoma!).

This reporter is the only person who has spent time (and a great deal of time) with all the candidates (apart from UKIP’s Lois Perry obvs). We have been so impressed with the standard and the commitment. That very much includes Lib Dem Riad Mannan and Green Party, Yasmin Gregory.

Lib Dem

Every time, Lib Dem Riad Mannan has spoken, it has made sense as he always addresses how he would try and solve that problem. Every sentence (as my esteemed History Professor would say) is a coherent unit of sense. To say he has taken this seriously is an understatement.

Riad may well not win but we do hope, he, as a Lib Dem candidate, is here (or there) for the long haul.


The Green Party’s Yasmin Gregory has transformed the Greens in Harlow over the past few years. Along with her trusted team, they have been a vital part of the democratic process and have greatly encouraged others to speak up.

Yasmin has run a fantastic campaign and just struck the right balance.

You may not see it but there are many who have written to local councillors, MPs, attend meetings on the back of encouragement by the Green Party.

They are why, in many ways, we should celebrate this display of democracy and not take it for granted.

We should also get out and vote. Saying “they are all the same” is not something you should be proud of It is down there, with “before my time”. You may want, as they say these days “Give your head a wobble”.

Having said that, perhaps a sizeable amount of people have had enough of government in the last ten years. That’s not just elections but a number of other factors as well.

That is why, we may need to look at turnout. That may be reflected in turnout. That may also be a factor. In 1983, it was 76.5%. In 1997, it was 74.3%. In 2001 it was 59.7% and in 2019, it was 63.7%.

So..in conclusion….

Back in 2010, in our sister paper, we predicted that despite a worn out Labour government heading for defeat, we thought that the Labour candidate, a former chief of staff to the retiring MP, would hang on by 1100. He lost by 92.

We think that the Conservative candidate Hannah Ellis will win Harlow by 1100.

We still have one eye on that May District Council result. How the crescent on the edge of Harlow remained Blue. That’s Great Parndon, Sumners, Latton Bush and Stewards (bar one), Church Langley, Newhall and Old Harlow.

Then we add on the Hallingbury’s, Hatfield Heath and Hatfield Broad Oak on one side and then Roydon and Nazeing on the other.

We think the Reform vote will be around 11% and maybe 6,000 plus but that may eat into both sides.

As we said, this is just one journalists view and as we said, his horse from the Grand National is still out there somewhere!

All our coverage of the General Election of 2024 can be found below.


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18 Comments for Opinion: General Election 2024: Who will win the seat of Harlow and the villages?:

2024-07-03 14:19:39

Rsform all the way!! Time for a change.

2024-07-03 14:31:36

Reform are a private limited company with a self appointed leader. We will certainly see some change.

vote for me
2024-07-03 15:22:19

Sadly, Hannah's message is very lightweight. She campaigns on a being local message despite her leader having no previous connection to Richmond, his constituency. She will deliver a local hospital, surely that is a done deal (Robert Halfon confirmed this at the local election hustings). Rebuild our town centre, surely that is already in progress. She will truly champion our town but why have we not heard of her before. And not voting at all just increases the chance of a labour MP, I need this one explained. I feel very let down by the lack of ambition for our town, this time round I will vote Labour, next time it may be Hannah, if she really is a champion for our town we will hear a lot from her in the next five years

2024-07-03 19:18:26

Hannah will make an excellent MP and is the only worthy candidate. Unlike the others, she is truly local and has Harlow in her DNA. Unlike some of the others, Harlow is her first and only choice: not Thurrock, Chelmsford, Stortford & Hertford and Colchester ( like Chris Vince). She has genuine Westminster experience and will hit the ground running for Harlow. We need somebody with the skills, personality and intellect to be our representative in Parliament. In this election, we are voting first and foremost for our Member of Parliament; Harlow's voice in Parliament, not some trained puppet. Only Hannah Ellis ticks those boxes. None of the others comes close.

New Town Dreaming
2024-07-03 20:18:21

Churchill called Attlee 'a modest little man with plenty to be modest about' and 'a sheep in sheep's clothing' and the change he brought to this country was immense - from the NHS, to the welfare state, secondary education for all…

2024-07-03 20:39:17

New Town Dreaming, it is not 1945 and Atlee is not a candidate in Harlow. We have a realistic choice between Hannah Ellis, Chris Vince and Malcolm Featherstone. As stated, only Hannah Ellis is worthy to represent our constituency.

2024-07-03 21:12:10

Alex, failure to win a seat may be seen to be a platform for future success. Robert Halfon had failures as did Theresa May and Tony Blair. Hannah's experience of local politics seems to extend to just 2 months as a councillor. I believe a labour mp in a likely labour govt with a local conservative council will be best for Harlow. A tory mp will be isolated.

2024-07-03 21:37:17

I'm voting for Chris.Very impressed with liberal and green candidates but voting labour to get tories out.

2024-07-03 21:42:32

Alex, am sorry, nobody heard her name before 2 months ago! Hannah has also not said a single thing we've not heard before from Halfon or other similar tory cllrs which never materialised. The leaflet that dropped with her name on it was attacking labour, attacking labour isn't a campaign worthy of voting. I was hoping, because she is young and hopefully finger on the pulse that she would bring something new to the table, alas not yet.. I wish her well, she is in a difficult position and not an easy start to her world as a candidate.

Nes Town Dreaming
2024-07-03 22:47:51

My comments are are not displaying

2024-07-04 06:50:33

Immigration is the number one issue for our country. The Tories have proved they can't deal with it, and at least five years of Labour will make things much worse. I don't agree with proportionate representation, but a vote for the Tories is an endorsement for them to continue as they are. They have forced the hand of many of their voters to vote for the Reform Party. The Conservative Party is only in name. If they don't spend the next five years rebuilding, moving away from wishy washy centrist policies and returning to more right wing ones, they will be finished as a party. I don't know too much about Hannah Ellis, but by the sounds of things she could be one of those who can help The Conservative Party find their identity and values again? I'm expecting a Labour MP for Harlow, with a low turnout. Nothing for Chris Vince to be proud of, he stands for nothing worth voting for, but neither does the current Tory party.

2024-07-04 08:03:41

Just seen Chris Vince and his team at polling station.He says it's going to be VERY CLOSE and every single vote counts.

Nicholas Taylor
2024-07-04 08:05:33

How much longer can the conservatives keep trotting out the same old messages, delivering a new hospital, cutting taxes when they are now at an all time high, cutting immigration when the numbers coming to the UK is at an all time high, building new homes in Harlow when in the last three years not a single new council home has been built. I am sorry to say that millions of voters will go elsewhere or not vote at all, after 14 years in power the day of reckoning has come for the conservative Party.

2024-07-04 08:57:30

Anon, no, number 1 issue in this country is the NHS. This order of most mentioned concerns are: NHS, Economy, Immigration, cost of living, housing. And to say labour would be worse is just strange. Immigration has risen so much higher under the last 14 years of tory!

David Forman
2024-07-04 10:21:49

A good article from Michael Casey and a predicted result that is credible. We will see in time what a Labour government will bring and the serious think tanks say not much. This is because relying on growth to improve public services is like hoping the wind will change direction: it will if you wait long enough. The Institute of Fiscal Studies direct Paul Johnson is clear on growth: "growth could surprise on the upside – and if it does, then the fiscal arithmetic would be easier. But if it doesn’t – and it hasn’t tended to in recent years – then either we will get those cuts, or the fiscal targets will be fudged, or taxes will rise." See IFS verdict at https://ifs.org.uk/articles/labour-party-manifesto-initial-response

Gary Roberts
2024-07-04 10:43:33

Mr Forman it would be averse if after all your campaigning over decades you decided to vote for the incumbent party, wouldn't it?

New Town Dreaming
2024-07-04 13:14:26

Alex, I think it can be understood from my comment that, like Atlee, the points where Chris Vince may need to raise himself could be a benefit. IT seems that Hannah Ellis has spent most of her adult life in the House of Lords. What does she know about real people's lives in Harlow? Apparently it all boils down to not liking immigrants or ULEZ. Finger on the pulse, eh. We have really high levels of deprivation and poverty in Harlow. The welfare reforms Hannah Ellis is pushing in her campaign would be a disaster for the town.

New Town Dreaming
2024-07-04 13:19:21

Alex, I think it can be understood from my comment that, like Atlee, the points where Chris Vince may need to raise himself could be a benefit. It seems that Hannah Ellis has spent most of her adult life in the House of Lords. What does she know about real people's lives in Harlow? Apparently it all boils down to boats or ULEZ. Finger on the pulse, eh. We have really high levels of deprivation and poverty in Harlow. The welfare reforms Hannah Ellis is pushing in her campaign would be a disaster for the town.

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