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Opinion: Review of the Harlow and the Villages General Election of 2024

Elections / Sun 7th Jul 2024 at 06:51pm

HARLOW has a new MP. It’s fifth since we became a distinct constituency in 1974.

Chris Vince joins Stan Newens, Jerry Hayes, Bill Rammell and Robert Halfon.

We thought we would take this opportunity to look at how each party performed as well as a general reflection on a few matters.

This is just our editor’s personal reflection after spending six weeks on the campaign trail.

Labour: Chris Vince

One of the new MP’s colleagues called him dogged and boy was he right.

Back in May 2021, he was a ballot box away from losing his ward of Little Parndon. He was the only Labour survivor that night in what was a political bloodbath for his party in the district elections.

The next day, he was back out on the doorstep and soon leader of the Harlow Labour group.

Three years later, his group should have regained the council. They didn’t. Chris was heartbroken. He stood down as leader and there were questions as to whether he should be the candidate for the General Election.

But..he kept going, As his colleague said……..dogged.

His General Election campaign crystallised all his strengths. He and his dedicated team covered every street and every village in the constituency.

We should not underestimate the guiding help from former MP Bill Rammell, who quietly and assiduously, was there for Chris Vince. Nor Labour leader, James Griggs, who used his own organisational skills to guide Chris to victory.

And he grew into the role. We enjoyed his interview in Church Langley and then last Sunday in Tany’s Dell. He seemed focussed, determined and on point. That was underpinned by his performance in the Hustings.

Win or lose, as they say in Track and Field, he left it all out on the track. In fact, football fan Chris started to remind us of England manager Gareth Southgate.

If he had lost, he could not have done anything more.

And he won. Yes, a 2,504 majority is small and may be hard to defend at the next election but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

His title is now Harlow MP Chris Vince and no-one can ever take that away from him. He will take it one day at a time (as Gareth would say).

First things first. Mr Vince will take time to find his feet. Just getting the right underground from Liverpool Street and then the right exit at Westminster. (Breaking News..he achieved that on Sunday afternoon!).

There may not be a new a cushy office. He may have to find an office or share a desk with Hertford and Stortford’s Josh Dean or Thurrock’s Jen Craft.

It will also be vital for Chris to find good staff. This was key for Robert Halfon. The people dealing with case work, the chief of staff etc. Choose wisely.

He is a naturally shy/modest man but that can be his strength. He has got time to find his feet and grow.

As a life long Leeds United fan, he may take this ‘season” to just stay up and not score any own goals. At the same time, politics may not afford him that luxury.

But this is the beginning of a great new chapter for Chris Vince MP. We wish him well.

Conservative: Hannah Ellis

Whilst most new candidates have a couple of years, Hannah Ellis had five weeks. But even in those five weeks, Hannah grew into the role.

Hannah will have learned a lot and although she will be hurting, she will take stock, regroup and go again.

Hannah Ellis is a remarkable young woman. Her Harlow story is real It resonated with so many residents and she will come again.

Her campaign was excellent. Did we think it was a bit “dogwhistle: at times? Yes. Then again ,she is trying to appeal to nearly around 100,000 people and not one 62-year-old editor (who couldn’t tip rubbish!).

In many ways, the result from history Hannah may want to look at is Harlow in 1992. The ambitious young candidate (Bill Rammell) lost by 2,940 votes. Many thought the winner (Jerry Hayes) had just five years left then. And they were right.

Hannah will now begin her political career as a local Conservative councillor and portfolio holder with the Conservative-run Harlow Council but we look forward to her holding the new MP to account.

Malcolm Featherstone: Reform UK

It was a remarkably laid back campaign by Reform UK’s candidate, Malcolm Featherstone. In interviews and at the Hustings, he was honest enough to give either common sense answers in areas he felt he knew about or not commit in other areas.

As a man with a long career in the NHS, it would have been interesting to hear more on his views on future funding of health care.

In the end, the man from Hatfield Heath has come and gone. Whether he will re appear in five years is questionable. It might have been an itch that a man in his sixties wanted to scratch. Maybe not (see speech below).

But he got over 20% of the vote. Over 9,000 votes. This may range from people who continue to be concerned regarding immigration to the woman in Old Harlow who, the day after the referendum on Brexit told Sky News: “I don’t want to be with all the other people. I just want to be amongst us”.

But Tory campaigners on the doorstep in the local elections said that immigration came up a lot. On that occasion, those voters had nowhere to go. On July 4th, they did.

To their credit, Reform UK have put it back at the top of the agenda. We have interviewed Nigel Farage over a number of years and those 4 million votes are chiefly down to him.

However if Labour deal with the backlog, get people processed and take on the gangs, then it will be interesting to see what the Gang of Five do next.

Malcom didn’t stay for interviews after the count but he did say a few words after the declaration.

The Green Party: Yasmin Gregory

Yasmin ran a really energised campaign. It’s not necessarily the greatest mark of success but she did keep her deposit. That reminds me of Harlow’s Lib Dem candidate in 2019, Charlotte Cane. Charlotte kept her deposit as well and on Thursday night was elected MP for Ely and East Cambridgeshire.

In many ways, Yasmin’s campaign has to be seen as part of the Green success all over the country that saw them gain four MPs.

As we said before, Yasmin and her colleagues (inc Jennifer, Julie, Dave to name just three) do great work to keep a large number of issues alive across Harlow. From animal rights to river pollution.

On Thursday, we will be back at Harlow Council Cabinet meetings. I am sure they will be there.

They will also be aware as to how concerned young students across Harlow are with the environment. Theres may be a long game.

Lib Dem: Riad Mannan

Mr Mannan may have lost his deposit but that does not disguise what an impressive performer he was. He alway tried to provide a solution to every problem.

Like Charlotte Cane, five years ago, we do hope he is here for the long haul. We do hope that the Lib Dem bosses recognise his talent and potential as they look to build on their national success on Thursday night.

Overview

Chris Vince won with the lowest ever number of votes for the winner in Harlow.

Bill Rammell got 16,453 in 2005 and that was the year when there was deep dissatisfaction with Labour over Iraq.

He also got the lowest ever share of the vote (37.6). It was also the lowest turnout ever for Harlow.

But..he..won.

However, Mr Vince is now part of a 170 seat Labour majority. We will see what Sir Keir Starmer’s government can do for our nation. Even after three days, they have hit the ground running.

We will see what progress he can make for Harlow. There are already a few things on the horizon which we will look at in the coming weeks.

We were very lucky to have such a good standard of candidates. Plus well done to all those supporters that worked so hard to campaign.

If you don’t vote because “they are all the same” then you may want to reflect that it sometimes appears that a lot of the people saying they are all the same are all the same.

Perhaps we should focus on the 43,357 who turned out to vote. They kept alive a tradition that really started in 1832 and has continued since then.

Some would say there has been a lot of democracy over last ten years or so. Proportional Representation. That was rejected by referendum in 2011. Since then, four General Elections, a Referendum and six Prime Ministers. We had six between 1966 and 2007!

We hope you have appreciated our coverage. This time, we only received complaints from a number of Labour supporters regarding bias.

So here is our General Election story tally

Labour: 23

Conservatives: 17

Liberal Democrats: 12

Green Party: 11

Reform: 8

Ukip: 4

Miscellaneous: 15

See you in 2029. Unless…………..Events dear boy…events…..

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9 Comments for Opinion: Review of the Harlow and the Villages General Election of 2024:

New Town Dreaming
2024-07-07 22:34:27

I beg to differ on Hannah Ellis’s campaign. The leaflet she put out stating that the “unknown Labour candidate” wasn’t interested in the local community was not only untrue but unnecessary. It seemed desperate. I hope if she runs again she rises above this type of tactic, pushing her own positives rather than running others down. It just came across as nasty.

Pete
2024-07-08 07:48:46

We all just hope KS can stop the rot the tories have left us in. Has a government ever inherited such a mess. Record dept .everything broken and people feeling completely let down by 14 years of crap..

David Forman
2024-07-08 09:26:07

I see Starmer and Streeting have brought in former New Labour health secretary Alan Millburn to help sort out the NHS. Milburn's advisory company AM Strategies were involved with the likes of US private healthcare company Centene Corporation, Spanish health privateer Ribeira Salud and British health technology company Huma. The outsourcing of services is likely to grow under Millburn who also championed the use of PFI contracts. See article at https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/f/alan-milburns-private-interests

SPM
2024-07-08 13:54:21

I am rather open-minded to see who had got in tbf, however this is just one thing I disliked was when Chris Vince was asked to to put together a council budget and failed to do so and after loosing the local elections he walked out before the counting had finished and someone else had to stand in for him in regard to an after comment. I find this to be rather childlike and unprofessional in my opinion. I hope that he has got his act together now and learned from throwing his toys out the pram and does what's right for Harlow and its surrounding communities. I am counting on him!

Herbie
2024-07-08 17:58:43

As a tory voter , I admit they made a pigs ear of it and got what they deserved. But in the last four years , the spanner in the cog was Covid. What was they supposed to do ( answers on a post card). And of course I will be waiting for the what about the 10years before questions. As I said they got it wrong

Nicholas Taylor
2024-07-08 22:11:20

Herbie, I don't think the spanner in the works was covid. I think that as a result of the infighting within the Conservative Party, we saw for example 14 Housing Ministers, was it 4 Prime Minsters, people given jobs who knew little or nothing about the job, decision that were Party first, Country second. This is the same for the Conservative group in Harlow of course, in just 3 years, 3 leaders, 4 Chief Executives and Councillors who have little if any experience of working in Local Government. Labour did not win the election, the Conservatives lost it through shear incompetance.

Trace
2024-07-08 23:58:20

SPM, I wondered after watching a few of the results from various counts on the news and the candidates all being sporting and shaking hands, if Vince's silly behaviour at the locals was something to do with the lack of shaking hands when Vince won.. I do hope he does well in a conservative lead council.

Mark Gough
2024-07-09 16:50:05

I just wanted to say what a fair and well balanced article this was from you Michael. Unfortunately we didn't give you anything to say about UKIP - but this is clearly an election which gives everyone in Politics things to think about. From the turnout, to the vote share, to the majorities of seats and individuals. Time for lots of people to wake up to realities and stop taking the people for granted!

Herbie
2024-07-10 06:55:42

So Nic . If Harlow conservatives are that bad , how come they got voted back in again , obviously a lot of people don't agree with you. Sounds like sour grapes to me. Especially as your vote count was so low

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