Cameron Visits as By Election Race Begins
Candidate selection already a controversial issue
The race to win Ealing Southall has already got underway in earnest just days after the death of Piara Khabra. The by election will take place on July 19th.
Southall town was visited on Thursday by Conservative leader David Cameron who was accompanied on a walkabout by the party's candidate.
The Tories, hoping to improve on third place last time out, have selected Tony Lit the Chairman of Sunrise Radio. The choice has already proved controversial as Mr. Lit was not a member of the Conservative party until recently. He says he was unable to join the party because of his directorship of a broadcasting company.
His father had stood as an independent in the constituency in the last two elections. Sunrise Radio was fined £10,000 by OFCOM in 2001 for breaching the rules on political broadcasts prior to election. The fine was levied due to an interview that was broadcast by Tony Lit's father.
David Cameron said of his candidate, "He comes right from the heart of the area, knows the people and the issues well, and would be a great voice for Ealing Southall in Parliament."
Despite the majority of over 11,000 the Tories see this as a winnable seat particularly compared to Tony Blair's old constituency of Sedgefield which will be contested on the same night.
The Labour selection process has also seen a degree of controversy. A furious row had broken out in the local party over the issue of an all-woman short-list. When Piara Khabra originally announced he wouldn't be standing at the next election this was the method chosen. However the Labour party's National Executive have reportedly announced that their candidate will now be chosen from an open short list. It is understood that they feared an electoral revolt similar to the one in Blaenau Gwent if they imposed a candidate.
The short-list will be drawn up next week on Tuesday 3rd July with hustings taking place the day after.
It is understood that the Respect Party will be contesting the seat.
The constituency is due to see boundary changes at the next election with some wards in the east being incorporated into the new constituency of Ealing and Acton. The by election will be contested on the basis of the old boundaries.
July 2, 2007