LAST YEAR’S General Election was hotly contested in many areas. Here, the race was the usual one between the Tories, Labour and Liberal-Democrats. All were vying for votes with one aim: an overall majority in Westminster. (As we all know, the eventual result didn’t pan out the way any of these parties wanted. Consequently we’ve now got a Con-Dem coalition government – but that’s another story altogether!)
One exception to this general rule was the election campaign in Barking and Dagenham. This provided one major talking point – the very personal battle between New Labour’s Margaret Hodge and the Chairman of the British National Party, Nick Griffin.
Although Hodge won that particular battle for Barking, it looks like the war isn’t over.
There still appears to be great interest in the May 2010 election itself and what it means for this area. For instance, Channel 4 have recently released a thought-provoking film, The Battle for Barking.
Made by Laura Fairrie, it was filmed over the course of a year. It was remarkable for its honesty and relative even-handedness. We’ll be featuring a review of the film in the very near future – so keep you eyes peeled for that. However, in the meantime, you can view it here: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-battle-for-barking/4od#3150944
Those with good memories may also recall that – in very early May – we featured an article (1) which drew attention to The Barking and Dagenham Sentinel. (2) Produced by Sentinel Publications in Edinburgh, it provided “a shocking indictment” of Margaret Hodge’s “terrible record” which made her “unfit for any public office.”
The Barking and Dagenham Sentinel was effectively a hard copy of the All about Margaret Hodge blog. (3) This blog has recently been updated with more articles promised. So it looks like Hodge is not out of the woods yet.
To add to her woes, Pat Harrington the General Secretary of Solidarity – the “free, autonomous and independent nationalist union” – has indicated that he will argue for the establishment of a Political Fund (which members will have the choice of opting into.)
Although there are no firm details yet, it’s already been mooted that it may be used “for an on-going campaign to expose all MPs who are fiddling their expenses.” (4). Given the apparent scale of corruption at Westminster – as evidenced by the expenses scandal of 2009 – any effort to keep tabs on these MPs will require a research, communications and logistics team the size of a small army!
Nevertheless, any attempt to expose MPs who have their snouts in the trough is to be welcome.