A day spent talking to constituents confirms that you can't beat round-the-clock campaigningby Alex Dean / June 17, 2016 / Leave a comment
At around one in the morning on Friday it was announced that Rosena Allin-Khan has been elected MP for Tooting—winning the seat that Sadiq Khan vacated after winning the London Mayoral election last month. She smashed expectations, winning 55.9 per cent of the vote (up 8.7 per cent from last May) to Conservative rival Dan Watkins’ 36.1 per cent. She did not give a victory speech, but made a short statement about Jo Cox, the Labour MP who tragically died yesterday.
A day spent speaking to residents in the south London constituency confirmed that Allin-Khan—and to an extent, Sadiq Khan—are responsible for this spectacular victory, not Jeremy Corbyn. Sometimes in elections, all that matters is the number of doors that you knock on.
Chatting to Allin-Khan—a 39-year-old trauma and emergency doctor at St George’s hospital in Tooting—the day before the election, she was clear about what she has to offer. “The main thing that sets me apart is that I am truly locally-born-and-bred: Tooting has been my home for literally 39 years—there are three generations of my family here.
“I’m half-Polish, half Pakistani, married a Welshman. I came from a very simple working class background, my mum worked in a petrol station. We do laugh that maybe Sadiq’s dad filled his bus up in there! My dad had a tiny little business repairing TVs in the constituency.”
Did the fact that Allin-Khan is, as she puts it, “Tooting through-and-through,” swing the result in her direction?
It played a significant part. Outside the small polling station at St Nicholas’ Church, near the hustle-and-bustle of Tooting High Street—crammed with shoppers—a 30-year-old woman explained enthusiastically to me why she voted for Allin-Khan: “I voted for the person that I met and that I’ve seen in the community—the person who’s advertised and who’s been knocking on doors.” I asked another young woman who voted Labour whether she knew much about Allin-Khan. Locking the wheels of the pram she was pushing, she turned and explained “I know that she grew up in Tooting, I know that she is a doctor at St George’s A&E.” Allin-Khan…