We’re not going to refer to the candidates as horses, that would be impolite. No, nope, nay, neiiigh! Not going to happen, but Twickenham’s two horse race could be a very close call on June 8th. A Conservative majority of only 2,000 secured in 2015 after 18 years of returning a Liberal Democrat MP means Twickenham is a potential swing seat. With just over a week to go there has been intense campaigning in the constituency. All three candidates have been active and visible, especially the two front runners, although if you look around Twickenham town centre for posters and election boards then you’d gauge the election mood to be largely one of apathy, followed by a sprinkling of Vince Cable window displays. But poster-spotting does not an election make.
Tania Mathias is mixing the Conservative ‘strong and stable’ message with her vocal support for the NHS and her intention to continue supporting her constituents’ on local issues such as opposition to Heathrow expansion, despite it being her party’s preferred choice. Vince Cable has also vowed to fight expansion which begs the question, who would be best placed to do that, a high profile opposition MP or a majority party backbencher, albeit one who’s chair of All Party Parliamentary Group on Heathrow? Answer: neither.
The marginal nature of both the Richmond Park and Twickenham constituencies has meant the big guns have paid their visits too. Theresa May (aka the Prime Minister) showed her support for Tania Mathias by rocking up to St James School for a mini-rally… only to find that it was a bank holiday and half term but she still addressed the party faithful nevertheless. It’s well worth her aides reminding her of the term dates if she hopes to meet with real pupils and staff. As well as doing the rounds of local fetes and fairs, Cable has also turned up on TV, including on Robert Peston’s programme. (Peston is of course most famous for being the man who put the ‘errrrr’ in Roberrrrt). Cable’s focused heavily on issues such as the ‘dementia tax’ and Brexit in his appearances.
And talking of Brexit, Mathias and Cable were both ‘remainers’ meaning when it comes to this crucial national issue they either want “the best deal for Britain” or to work to stop an “extreme Brexit”. What’s the difference? We don’t know – probably something about having a vote on the final deal. In fact, here at twickerati HQ we’ve slightly lost the plot on the types of Brexit available but we think this may be the shortlist:
* Extreme Brexit
* Hard Brexit
* Soft Brexit
* Red, white and blue Brexit
* Best for Britain Brexit
* I can’t believe it’s not Brexit
* Wooahhhhh!, Brexit-form. Brexit-form for youuuuu!
Note: Other Brexits may be available.
On June 8th it could all come down to a handful of votes. The Green Party has stood down its local candidate and endorsed Vince Cable. This will shift some votes from green to yellow but there’s also no UKIP candidate this time around which is likely to see votes moving back to the Tories. Will Labour supporters vote tactically or stick with their own candidate? Will local or national issues determine the outcome? Will Twickenham take the view that a large Conservative majority is the best way to secure a good deal on Brexit?
We don’t know. You don’t know. But you might have an opinion.
* Richmond Chamber of Commerce, 1st June. 5.00pm. n.b. This is a ticketed, ‘paid for’ event with candidates from both the Twickenham and Richmond Park constituencies. More
* Churches Together, 2nd June, 7.30 pm at Teddington Baptist Church. More