I’ve been struggling to understand the reasons for the eventual result of the election in Luton South and still haven’t arrived at a clear conclusion. I said yesterday that the voters had the good sense to see through the celebrity candidature of Esther Rantzen. Yet were they displaying good sense in rejecting a change to the Conservative or Liberal Democrat candidates and instead electing Labour candidate Gavin Shuker?
I am of course desperately disappointed. The amount of work and commitment given by the small team of Luton Liberal Democrats to this election was extraordinary, as was the level of support given by those from outside. They really did deserve a better result.
I also have to pay full tribute to Qurban Hussain the Liberal Democrat candidate. He is a man of great integrity and has shown a principled commitment to serving the community in Luton in different ways over the years. I had so hoped that he would have had a chance to bring that commitment to the role of Luton South’s Member of Parliament. He handled his disappointment at the result with great dignity.
Instead Luton South has Gavin Shuker as its MP. Who, as far as I could tell, fought the election on the platform of not being Margaret Moran, of having been born in Luton, living in Luton, and having relatives who worked at Vauxhall. A platform which, I reckon, I and a few thousand other people in this town could also have stood on. What other achievements he has to his name, what he believes in, what he will try to do as an MP, I have no idea. We will have to wait and see what kind of representation he provides for the town.
I did genuinely think that the Liberal Democrats had a chance of winning in this election. There were solid arguments that, if the people of this town wanted change, the Liberal Democrats were in a good position to deliver it. My belief that we had a chance of winning was naturally strengthened by the national reaction to Nick Clegg after the leader’s debates. So I was optimistic.
I also thought that, while support for the Conservatives in Luton is in long term decline, something I still believe, if the seat wasn’t to go to the Liberal Democrats it would be won by the Tories. What I didn’t expect was that after the scandal surrounding Margaret Moran and the way that the Labour Party in Luton supported her up until the very last moment, the level of anger that produced, and the expected rejection of Labour and Gordon Brown across the country that the Labour vote would hold up so well.
I am shocked and puzzled by the strength of the Labour vote in Luton South and, to a lesser extent, in Luton North.
Did people fear change and what it might mean? Was it fear of a Conservative government and how it would affect them? I really don’t understand why after being treated so shabbily by them, after being taken so for granted and treated like fools, so many people in Luton still chose to stick with Labour. I really would like to understand.
So if there is anyone from Luton who voted Labour reading this blog please do use the comments to this post to explain why.
This content was originally posted on my old Strange Thoughts blog.