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Conservative Lindsey Hall ‘let down’ by central government campaign in Westminster North election battle

Tory candidate said 'presidential-style campaign' was a mistake

16 June, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya

Lindsey Hall came second in the race for Westminster North. The seat was won by Labour’s Karen Buck

LINDSEY Hall said last night (Thursday) she had been “let down” by the Conservative Party’s “very poor” central campaign team that wrongly believed the prime minister was “invincible”.

Speaking a week after her heavy defeat to Labour’s Karen Buck in the Westminster North constituency, she told Westminster Extra it was a mistake to run a “presidential” style campaign with such a focus on leader Theresa May.

“We got off to such a flying start with such optimism…” said Ms Hall. “My heart sank when I saw our manifesto.

“My heart sank further when I saw the Labour manifesto, full of all those bribes. “The central government campaign was very poor, they let us down. I think there were some strategic mistakes pinning it to one person in a presidential style. That’s not the British way.”

She said her party’s central office campaign team had been “lulled into a false sense that she [Theresa May] was invincible”, adding: “But she was hardly through the honeymoon.”

She feels issues, including Brexit, pushed some traditional Tory voters away from the Conservative Party.

“I think voters were blaming us for Brexit,” she said. Ms Hall said the atmosphere during the campaign this time around was different and more “unpleasant”, but added: “Karen Buck is a very good constituency MP. We have always had a lot of respect for each other.”

Nationally, she said the Conservative Party’s deal with the Democratic Unionist Party was “hardly ideal”.

Asked if she would run for MP again, she said “never say never” but that, right now, she was feeling “exhausted and a little bruised”.

She said she was also gearing up for next year’s local elections as “there will be a big fight on our hands… Labour are smelling blood”.

Celebrations, Karen Buck with Labour colleagues Andy Slaughter, who held Hammersmith with a majority of 18,651 and, right, Emma Dent Coad who spectacularly beat the Conservative in Kensington by just 20 votes [Photo: Ben Coleman]

Westminster North was set to be one of the toughest battlegrounds, with Karen Buck originally tipped to lose her seat to Ms Hall. But the Labour MP stormed to victory, with 25,934 votes, increasing her majority to 11,512 votes from 1,977 in 2015.

Asked at what point it all changed, Ms Buck told Westminster Extra: “I think at the point the two manifestos came out, I think that was the tipping point.

“I think he [Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn] has absolutely secured his position. It was no secret to say I had my concerns, but there is no doubt that he led a very positive and hopeful campaign. I think the national campaign and manifesto was an excellent and one I was proud to campaign on.”

Ms Buck had been a vocal critic of Mr Corbyn and, in June 2016, at the time of the “no confidence” vote in his leadership, she tweeted: “Labour has a duty to be serious opposition and credible government in waiting. Jeremy Corbyn is not the leader we need now.”

Hundreds of Labour supporters helped Ms Buck on the doorstep in the days before the election.

She said: “The way the Tories responded with the so-called dementia tax… and how we did it… that we are worried about education, policing, and social care cuts and are prepared to take the decisions needed to stop and reverse them, which was absolutely right. We did much better than expected previously in many parts of the country. The trend seems to be we did particularly well in areas particularly concerned about a bad Brexit.”

On the results, David Boothroyd, an elections analyst who is also a Labour councillor, said: “There was a 10.8 per cent swing to Labour in Westminster North, which was the eighth highest swing to Labour in the whole country.”

Mr Boothroyd suggested that Ibrahim Dogus’s surprise poll, in Mark Field’s Cities of London & Westminster constituency, may have been down to “the fact that he was a successful businessman” who had “undercut Conservative criticism that he would be bad for businesses”.

Mr Dogus told Westminster Extra: “The last few weeks have once again shown just how inspiring the democratic process can be, and I want to continue working with local people to make this country a better, fairer a place.”

He thought Labour had appealed “to people beyond our traditional voters”.

Mr Field, a staunch “Remainer”, who has been given a minister of state role in the foreign office, said: “Naturally I shall always give first priority to my constituency duties and with the support of both my private office and civil servants in the foreign office I am confident that I can achieve this balance.

“As an MP of 16 years’ standing I believe that I have the experience properly to ensure that such a balance can be struck.”

Westminster Extra first on the streets

THE Westminster Extra was once again first on the streets with the general election results in the
borough’s two parliamentary constituencies.

Although morning had broken by the time the count at the Westminster Central Methodist Hall came to a close, we had an election special in high street dispensers and libraries by lunchtime on Friday.

This made us the first to get the full results and reaction in Westminster North and Cities of London & Westminster constituencies out in print and readers were rushing to get souvenir copies after a historic night in British political history.

Full constituency results can be seen here



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