Kate Hoey faces tough challenge from LibDems in Vauxhall as #GE2017 gets underway

Kate Hoey

Vauxhall looks set to be one of the key battlegrounds as the country prepares for the General Election on 8 June. Labour MP Kate Hoey will face a tough challenge from LibDem challenger George Turner.

Hoey’s pro-Brexit role has led the LibDems to believe that they can take the seat that Hoey has held for 29 years.

The Labour MP has yet to confirm that she will be the candidate for Vauxhall. There was doubt about her ability to even make the selection process. Her local Constituency Labour Party [CLP] took the unusual move of issuing a statement in February to distance itself from Hoey’s Brexit beliefs.

The pace of the snap election decision may be Hoey’s saviour when it comes to making the ballot. There has been moves since the Brexit vote to deselect Hoey from standing. The party’s ruling executive is expected to confirm that ‘trigger ballots’ aren’t necessary.

These are the mechanisms which CLP members can force sitting MP’s to be put up for selection once again. There isn’t enough time to organise a ballot, and then choose an alternative candidate to Hoey.

This will disappoint some in the Progress dominated Vauxhall CLP. Some local Cllr’s have made it clear that they won’t be standing for election for Lambeth Council in 2018. The plan was that instead they would use Brexit as the foil to replace at Hoey at Westminster. The decision to stand on 8 June now appears to be in the hands of Hoey.

Brixton Buzz understands Hoey will confirm her intention to fight her eighth campaign. It will be interesting to see what level of support she receives from party members.

The LibDems will fancy their chances of overturning Hoey’s 12,708 majority from 2015. It was actually the Tories who finished second to Labour two years ago. The LibDems finished a poor fourth. Adrian Hyyryläinen-Trett received just 6.9% of the vote, compared to Hoey’s 53.8%.

The LibDems have put forward a strong candidate this time in George Turner. The housing journalist is good on detail when it comes to housing policy around the constituency. The campaign though will be fought on Hoey’s Brexit stance.

Lambeth saw the highest vote for remaining in the European Union. 79% of residents voted to remain. Hoey boarding a boat with Nigel Farage has been hard to stomach for many residents. The LibDem campaign for the General Election will feature that image.

Hoey has been a popular constituency MP in dealing with local matters. It may be that her Brexit views will be her downfall. A petition was set up to replace her as the CLP candidate, following the Brexit vote. This was taken down for containing ‘inappropriate content.’

Local resident Paul Mason caused a Twitter storm on Tuesday when he appeared on Newsnight. He suggested that he would vote tactically in the Vauxhall constituency.

Another surprise endorsementhas come from Labour Cllr Vaila McClure. The Prince’s ward Cllr RT-ed the LibDem candidate’s observations.

Helen Hayes and Chuka Umunna abstain on the controversial Welfare Bill

Elsewhere around the Brixton Buzz patch and Chuka Umunna would appear to be safe as the MP for Streatham. The fear from the right of the party was that Momentum would move to deselect right wing Labour MP’s such as Umunna. Much like Hoey, Umunna looks like having escaped this fate due to the pace of the snap election.

His strategy will be to get elected, and then wait to see what happens to Jeremy Corbyn in the fallout that will follow. Chuka may get to still have his day on the national stage. It would be ironic if it is the Tory party that manages to achieve seeing off Corbyn for Chuka – something that his wing of the party has now failed to do twice..

The LibDems have already confirmed that their candidate will be Alex Davies. This is more down to a lack of candidates than any selection in the talent pool.

Davies led the local LibDem group to disastrous wipeout in the 2014 local elections. The party was obliterated, left with no seats on the Council. It will be a tough task to try and rebuild the activist base in the Streatham constituency.

A challenge for Chuka may come instead from Jonathan Bartley, the Co-Leader of the Green party. Bartley is based in Streatham. He stood as the Green candidate in the 2015 General Election, finishing fourth, but taking the Green vote up by 7%.

Bartley has yet to confirm if he will stand in Streatham this around. His higher national profile as the Co-Leader of the party would help his local campaign. There is a suggestion that the Greens will call for a ‘progressive alliance’ with Labour and the LibDems.

Over in Dulwich and West Norwood and Helen Hayes has declared her intention to stand in the General Election. Hayes was elected for the first time in 2015 after Tessa Jowell fancied her chances to become London Mayor. Hayes received 54.1% of the vote – 7.5% increase on Jowell’s 2010 polling.

Hayes has impressed many with her first few years as an MP. She has been strong on local issues such as the cuts to the education budget. She listened to residents and decided not to vote in favour of air strikes over Syria back in December 2015.

The deadline to vote in the 2017 General Election is midnight on 22 May. You can register online via the Lambeth Council website.