As you are probably aware, on the 14th of June 2018, there will be a by-election in Lewisham East to replace the incumbent MP Heidi Alexander, who has now been picked for the job of Deputy Mayor under Sadiq Khan (presumably to cover for him as he vanishes when another violent attack happens in the capital, as you do).
From this, there is an upcoming by-election whereby a whole slew of candidates will be standing, fourteen in total. Pretty much every British political party under the sun is standing, sans the likes of very small parties like the English Democrats and also the various joke candidates one would often expect at a by-election like this.
So, who is standing? Let’s review the record:
The Green Party candidate is one Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, of who is mainly focused on being a clean air campaigner (nothing shocking there then). Her background mainly consists of being the head of a 6th form in Lewisham (being local in the constituency is a big boost already), and being involved heavily in education in her area in general, with her being a school governor too. Hence why one of her other main priorities if elected (to make schools to ‘be proud of’) should be no shock either.
Mostly harmless, right? But no. It turns out that she advocates that Britain has another referendum over Europe, arguing that Britain should have a ‘final say over Europe – with the option to remain in’. Presumably she forgot that we already had that nearly two years ago at this point, but there we are. It is possible that this candidate can do well, given that the Green Party have always finished up in the top five of the last few Lewisham results, but it seems very unlikely for her to win.
Given that the Labour Party has such a stronghold over this seat and that the Green Party are pretty much pointless at this time (given that all three of the major parties have bought into the climate change agenda, including Labour), she may do well, but a win is highly unlikely.
But what more would you expect from a party who are single issue to the point of being asinine and having only the city of Brighton and Vivienne Westwood propping them up? Not to mention, the whole anti-Brexit rhetoric of Debrah is something that will be seen from other candidates too. Brace yourselves.
Moving on, the Conservative candidate is one Ross Archer. Looking like the unholy love child of Martin Lewis and George Osborne, Archer’s main priorities for the area mainly are about stressing good education, improvements to the local railway network (which include extending the Bakerloo Line on the London Underground to not only Lewisham but surrounding areas, like Catford and Lower Sydenham, and to the zoning of the Grove Park Overground station), fly-tipping (which saw him campaign to stop the weekly bin collection by the Labour led council) and the football teams around the location (no joke). Another local candidate, it seems that Archer has been campaigning in the area for some time, not only here, but also in various campaigns about rubbish collection and attempted to become the mayor of Lewisham, only to lose to the Labour candidate.
He is most likely the candidate who will come second here. This seat has been held by Labour since 1992, and their candidates have usually come second in subsequent general elections, sans 2010 when the rise of the Liberal Democrats had them come third.
Ah, those were the days. The days when Nick Clegg seemed like a respectable politician and the media were comparing him to Winston Churchill, as opposed to the laughing stock he is now and his party for that matter. Anyhow, the Conservatives will most likely come second here.
There have been rare occasions when a Conservative takes a long-held Labour seat in a by-election (the 2008 by-election in Crewe and Nantwich being one such example), but given Labour’s stranglehold here, it is unlikely to happen.
There is also an independent candidate in the running under one Charles Edward Carey. A new candidate, his main focus is updating the Statute Law Database, which is the official database of laws made in Parliament. His problem is that it isn’t up-to-date (having been updated to the year of 2002), so the public are misinformed about what legislature currently stands. His main goal is to use this campaign to raise awareness of this issue.
While independent candidates have occasionally done well, the last time one was elected to Parliament was in the 2006 by-election in Blaenau Gwent and the last one generally elected being in 1997. That and his single-issue campaign and his very limited social media profile (he has on his Twitter account thirteen tweets at the time of writing) means that his chances are limited at best. Whether he has enough clout in the constituency to aid him is yet to be seen.
Meanwhile, the main focus of this election is the Labour candidate, one Janet Daby. Already, she seems like the most likely winner in this contest. The seat is exclusively a Labour safe seat as previously discussed, and various betting companies have placed her as the favourite to win because of it.
Admittedly on the surface, she doesn’t seem too bad. Her experience in politics (being the Deputy Mayor of Lewisham being the main representative here) and her background in social care and running a food poverty charity may earn her sympathy points.
That being said, she isn’t some harmless stooge for the Labour Party. Oh no, rather she seems rather dangerous in some ways, making her seemingly inevitable victory all the more worrying. Firstly, she is yet another type who hates democracy, advocating the UK stay in the single market after we leave the European Union. In other words, she advocates that the UK still accepts the free movement of people, EU laws and the vast fees the EU dumps on us every year. In other words, everything we voted against when we voted to Leave.
Given that most of the public wants to leave the single market (as indicated by a poll detailing most of the Leave voters wanting a hard Brexit which would mean leaving the Single Market), Daby is clearly a Remoaner. The cruel irony being that her fellow contenders in the Labour Party for this selection were more lenient on this issue, feeling that we should leave it to respect the result of the referendum.
Beyond that though, Daby has links to the extremist imam Shakeel Begg, of Lewisham Islamic Centre. Earlier this year, she had a general discussion with him at the centre. Given his extremist advocacy (of which included supporting Islamist fighters abroad and promoting religious violence, which he lost a libel case against the BBC over), it seems rather worrying, especially since all three Labour candidates shared a platform with him at some point. So here we have Lewisham’s most likely next MP: a Remoaner with links to Islamist extremists. Hip hip hooray!
The Democrats and Veterans Party are also standing here. Led by former UKIP leadership and Parliamentary contender John Rees-Evans, the party stands on broadly patriotic, libertarian and Eurosceptic values. Their candidate is one Massimo DiMambro, whose main policy is campaigning for direct democracy. While his locality to the area will again help (not to mention his previous standing in Lewisham Deptford under the UKIP flag), his single-issue stance and the various controversies surrounding his party already (mainly through their utter failure at the 2018 local elections and the deputy leader resigning soon after) probably will work against him as well.
Speaking of libertarianism, the official Libertarian Party are standing here as well, with their candidate Sean Finch. He similarly stands on libertarian values to the Democrats and Veterans candidate as well, with free speech being the big aspect touted here.
However, unlike their Stateside cousins (whereby the American Libertarian Party is considered the third party in the States behind the Democrats and the Republicans), the Libertarian Party UK haven’t done much throughout the last decade and a bit from their formation, having only stood in both the 2010 and the 2017 elections and never gaining 1% in any of the seven seats contested.
It is rather telling how limited their resources are given they didn’t contest in the 2015 election (calling it ‘waste of time and funds’) and had the None Of The Above vote beat them in their first contested by-election in 2009 in Norwich North. Their lack of much support online (most notably with their interview with Finch gaining only 186 views at the time of this writing) doesn’t help either. So again, no real competition.
The Radical Party are also standing, with their Party Secretary Patrick Gray. Their chances seem rather limited as well. Given that their platform is based on left-wing doctrine (such as fighting against the likes of lobbyists, reducing the gap between rich and poor and general globalism), it seems rather pointless standing in a Labour safe seat, especially given that their big policies over remaining in the European Union and climate change are already taken by the Labour and Green parties respectively. Not a strong contender either, especially with a lack of a strong presence on the ground or on social media, and a sense of elitism in this candidate (a former Oxford boy) doesn’t go in his favour either.
The Young People’s Party are also standing, represented here by Thomas Hall. Their platform is one of mostly economics, inspired by Georgist thinking, mainly on the grounds of basing taxes on land instead of earnings, leaving the EU and bank reform. Like the Libertarian Party, all of their contested seats have landed them with less than 1% of the vote ever since their founding in 2012, and their main niche may not appeal to a wide core of voters. Not much of a chance here either.
To lighten the mood, a joke candidate is also standing in the Monster Raving Loony Party’s Howling Laud Hope, the leader of the party. Not much to say, beyond the fact that their various policies may be jokey and the rest of it (including replacing carrier bags with pigeons and introducing silent fireworks to avoid pets being frightened), but the sad truth is that they probably are more tenable than anything out of Westminster these days. Given that this is a joke candidate, listing their chances will be pointless.
UKIP are also standing with their London Assembly member and former leadership contender David Kurten. A first-time contender in Lewisham, this could be an opportunity for UKIP to recover its bad fortunes. After all, they tend to do well in by-elections, with last year’s result in the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election being their best result in an otherwise disappointing year for the party. Kurten’s main stances (of campaigning for a ‘full Brexit’ and cracking down on crime) may win him support too. 40% of Lewisham did vote Brexit and that vote has to go somewhere, while the general crime increase in London (especially in Lewisham) may aid them too.
That said, the party’s diminishing fortunes, along with the controversy over Kurten (through some of the comments he made last year over gay children and the Stop The Khanage campaign material) are working against them here. Only time will tell as to whether they can pull it out of the bag here.
The Christian People’s Party is also standing, with their regular candidate Maureen Martin standing. Not much here to say either, as she has come last in the prior two elections in this seat, and there doesn’t seem much different here.
The Women’s Equality Party is also standing in their candidate Mandu Reid, a local resident and the founder of the Cup Effect, a women’s menstrual health NGO. An unashamedly feminist candidate, she was inspired to stand after the #MeToo campaign gained steam, feeling as though she ‘had to put herself forward’ afterwards. It doesn’t seem that she will get very far, given the very one-note nature of her candidacy and the party she stands for.
The Liberal Democrats are also standing with their candidate Lucy Salek. Previously a council candidate, she also is notable for her humanitarian work (including being the chair for the refugee charity AFRIL), which may go in her favour.
Meanwhile, she is also a staunch Remain type, which given that seems to be the only platform the party has these days isn’t a surprise. She plans to use a potential win to use it as a ploy to make a statement against Labour’s wishy-washy stance on Brexit, with party leader Vince Cable going as far to say that the party will use the by-election to ‘cut the majority substantially’.
The fuss over her supposedly misleading election material may work against her too. Given their recent uptake in the 2018 local elections, they may have a strong chance here. Then again, their lack of ability to break new ground following the 2010 general election seems to indicate otherwise.
Last but not least, we have Anne Marie Waters of For Britain standing. Previously a UKIP candidate for the area (coming third in the 2015 election there), Waters started the party in October 2017 after having left UKIP over her loss over the UKIP leadership election and the various top brass of the party calling her racist and the like.
Her previous standing may help her here, and many of the policies that she stands for this time round (including solving the housing crisis in the area and getting a hard Brexit too) may win over voters. Meanwhile, the endorsement of The Smiths’ former frontman and British icon Morrissey (of who called her a ‘humane Thatcher’) can’t hurt. Neither can the controversy.
Her standing has already caused a stir, most notably with the likes of various leftie groups threatening to disrupt her campaign and the Labour Party boycotting next week’s hustings over her being allowed to stand there, mainly because of her views on Islam. It may be possible that her prior standing may win back her old voters, not to mention all the fuss in the press may boost her profile. Only time will tell.
So, after all that, one must think what was the point of discussing this? Because of how crucial the outcome is. Beyond how the most likely next MP for Lewisham East is a Remoaner with links to Islamist extremism and the various single-issue candidates who can no more muster the true meaning of the cult classic Donnie Darko than they can electoral support, there is a compelling battle here, that being the one between UKIP and For Britain. Given the former’s seeming collapse in voter share and the latter’s slow rise (mainly through beating the Green Party and UKIP in some wards in the local elections earlier this year), the battle between the two big pro-Brexit and populist parties in Britain shall commence.
Will this mortal combat see UKIP rise from the ashes once more or show For Britain to be their replacement? Only time will tell.
Only one thing’s almost certain though: Janet Daby will be Lewisham East’s next MP, who is so problematic that it won’t even be good for her party’s leader. Ouch. Then again, her anti-Brexit stance and links to Islamist extremism will be the ultimate fatality for the British public.