Politics in my constituency of Hammersmith & Fulham is fierce and competitive, and always has been. Since the Electoral Commission started recording constituency expenditure in 2001, the largest spending constituency party in Britain has been the Hammersmith & Fulham Labour Party. In second place is the Hammersmith & Fulham Conservative Party!
At the next General Election, the seat divides into a new Hammersmith seat and a new Fulham & Chelsea seat. Last week I was out campaigning for our new candidate for Hammersmith, Shaun Bailey. You may well have read about Shaun, the black community worker from the North Kensington estates. He is that rare phenomenon in constituency campaigning – a local candidate who also has a national profile.
Shaun’s first leaflet puts it pretty clearly: “Shaun has clear principles. He believes in the family. He believes in the community. He believes in self-reliance. He believes people should respect each other.” To learn more about Shaun, go to his website http://www.shaunbailey.co.uk
We were handing his leaflet to tube commuters. This has been an essential part of our constituency campaigning for six years now. We have more tube commuters than any other Borough in Britain. Obviously the Labour Party has latched onto this as well, as they have started leafleting tube commuters as well. Older readers of this blog might remember the “Battles of Barons Court” between the two parties in the 1950s and 1960s, when the two parties went head to head in what was then one of the country’s few marginal seats. Outside Barons Court tube station last week, you could be forgiven for thinking that nothing had changed.
Shaun Bailey deserves to be elected next time. He comes from a background very different to probably any other of our MPs. More importantly, he has a clear set of ideas and proposals for what to do about the problems we face on our inner city estates and high streets. Nobody is a more modern Conservative than Shaun, but his ideas are rooted in traditional values. He is one to watch.
Greg Hands is MP for Hammersmith & Fulham