UK Politics

Labour loses appeal in Leyton

Not only Miranda Grell lost her appeal in Leyton.

The damage done to political parties by rogues and scoundrels in its ranks is most evident in the Leyton ward by-election results, released last night.

The LibDems regained the seat, matching Labour votes 2:1, despite a massive effort by Labour to prove that Miranda Grell’s “paedophile slurs” against the former LibDem councillor, Barry Smith, played no part in the election outcome.

Grell, an aide to Ken Livingstone’s deputy Nicky Gavron, was convicted of misrepresenting her opponent (i.e. lying) and forced to stand down, fined, and barred from public office.

Despite a campaign to save her reputation – and her seat – disgracefully supported by many in the Labour Party, Grell lost her appeal against her conviction and a by-election was called.

Some Labour Party supporters insisted that another Labour candidate would keep the seat for the party, but Labour candidate Khevyn Limbajee gained only 695, while LibDem Winnie Smith polled 1360 votes.

Interestingly, Respect managed to come third with 176 votes, followed by the Tories with 108 and the Greens with 90, showing clearly that this was a two-horse race, and Labour’s horse was hobbled with the scandal of Grell’s dirty politics.

So, ironically, Leyton Ward has got justice.

Grell unseated Barry Smith with only 28 votes. The LibDem’s have retaken the seat with a 665 vote majority, showing that while paedophile rumours are damaging, proven lies and sleaze are even more damaging. Still, one can’t help feeling a little sorry for Grell, who, one suspects, may have picked up her political strategy – like the pox – from City Hall.

And as a footnote, more evidence that Respect (despite coming 3rd) have lost touch with reality, the former Big Brother star standing in Leytyon – no, not Galloway – Carole Vincent told the press that her party had “mounted a challenge to the Lib/Lab pact”. Unreal, firstly, because the by-election came about because of one of the most bitter Lib/Lab fights in yonks, and unreal, secondly, because in the end Respect’s challenge was only around 7% of the votes, 56% having gone to the Libs and 29% to the Labs, accounting for 85% of the total votes. Some “challenge”.

Equally delusional (not the first evidence, admittedly) is John Rees who put up a press release on the Respect (classic, not renewal) website claiming that this result “shows that the appeal of Respect is still strong” and that it “puts Respect in good position to fight the GLA elections in May.” Madness.

Nevertheless, Socialist Worker ran the headline “Good votes for Respect in two local by-elections” citing this by-election and another – the Tulketh ward council by-election in Preston – where they did worse (6.8%) as “serious inroads” in these areas. Previously, the paper had reported that there was “a lot of enthusiasm” for Respect’s campain in the ward.

Carole Vincent told Socialist Worker:

“Labour got a hammering in the election. This shows that people are sick of Labour’s privatising agenda. On this occasion the Lib Dems picked up most of the protest votes, but Respect has also made a big step forward in an area where we haven’t stood before.”

Protesting Labour’s “privatising agenda”? By voting LibDem? Is she serious? Some over at Socialist Unity evidently think so. Some don’t.

If there was “a protest vote” it was in favour of the LibDems because Miranda Grell is a convicted liar. Besides, Leyton was a known LibDem safe-seat, so all that’s happened here is that the natural order of things has been restored after a disgraceful smear by campaign by Miranda Grell upset the balance.