Dominic Raab proved himself to be a sore winner when he used his victory speech at Sandown Park, Esher, to smear his rival Monica Harding. Here is the final verdict on the result.
Bitter Raab accused the Lib Dems of running a “negative campaign” that attacked him personally. Monica Harding told Surrey Live: “I regret very much our new MP’s speech. It has been a fantastic campaign. I thank them [supporters] so much for putting their trust in me. I’ve never been so proud to live here.” She added: ”Half of Esher don’t like the direction the country is going.”
Throughout the campaign, Raab never failed to disappoint residents. His smug public schoolboy arrogance meant he refused to meet Harry’s Dunn’s family at a Hustings in East Molesey. Tim Dunn had taken a 2 hour journey to meet with Raab, having found he was getting nowhere setting up a meeting via official channels. The Dunn family were BLOCKED from entering the hustings and waited HOURS outside the church, where the hustings took place, in the cold and rain. What kind of human being does this?
Raab has ZERO empathy for anyone, but himself. At various election hustings he spoke very movingly about the death of his own father. Yet he was lacking in any sort of compassion in his dealings with the grieving family of Harry Dunn.
Raab’s arrogance continued throughout the campaign. He refused to acknowledge he represents a REMAIN voting constituency. Even his own supporters struggle to name ANYTHING positive he has done for Esher and Walton. He refused to admit he wants to privatise NHS hospitals, even as Nick Robinson on a Radio 4 Today read out extracts from a book where he argues for precisely that. More bullshit and bluster from Raab.
Now the dust has settled on the election result here are a few observations about what went right and wrong for the Lib Dems. Moving forward, will Lib Dems or Labour EVER manage to remove Dominic Raab (AKA Dim Dom) as MP for Esher and Walton?
WHERE’S YOUR MAJORITY GONE?
Esher and Walton has been returning Tory MPs to Parliament since 1906.
But what a difference two years makes! In 2017 Dim Dom enjoyed a majority of 23,298 (GE 2017), today it stands at a rather pathetic 2,743 (GE 2019). Indeed, this was the largest swing AWAY from an incumbent during the 2019 election.
Raab’s percentage share has tumbled to just 49.5% – meaning that there are more people in Esher and Walton who DIDN’T vote for him, than did. The words ‘humble’ and ‘Raab’ have never gone together and we won’t be expecting him to acknowledge this fact anytime soon. However, the normally calm Raab was rattled as he, reportedly, paced up and down while awaiting the result at Sandown Park.
ARRON BANKS SAVED RAAB’s SKIN – THE PEERAGE IS IN THE POST
Up until 11th November 2019, Nigel Farage promised to stand candidates in EVERY constituency. So when news came he would NOT contest 317 Tory-won seats (for fear of splitting the Leave vote) it came as quite a shock. Not least to Axel Thill, the Brexit Party candidate for Esher and Walton, who has a very cool name.
We were keen to see Axel on the ballot paper, not least because his name reminds us of one of Eddie Murphy’s greatest character roles. And of course the lead singer of a very famous rock band. Why wouldn’t they stand, when the Brexit Party came second in Esher and Walton at the EU elections?
But it wasn’t to be. Poor Axel was ordered to stand down with zero warning about this massive U-TURN! Raab has to thank Arron Banks and Farage for saving his skin. I’m sure a very large ‘cheque’ / peerage is in the post.
This was a massive blow and one that the Monica Harding and the Lib Dem’s struggled to recover from.
LABOUR’S PETER ASHURST HELPED SPLIT THE VOTE
Labour took an age to appoint a candidate and things never looked promising. Esher and Walton CLP eventually appointed a total unknown – Peter Ashurst
Peter’s a big guy, who’s heart was in the right place, however Labour could NEVER win in Esher and Walton. But they COULD, of course, do real damage to Monica Harding’s chances and totally scupper a rare chance of removing Raab.
Incredibly, Ashurst was still pumping out the line that ONLY Labour could defeat Raab in Esher and Walton well into the campaign. Clearly, this was bollocks and most of his supporters in Esher and Walton CLP knew it.
The Greens stood aside in Esher and Walton to give the Lib Dems a clear run. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for Labour. Ashhurst, a keen Corbyn supporter, did all he could to SPLIT the progressive vote.
Here at RaabWatch we pleaded with Ashurst, if not to stand down (against the rules from Labour HQ), but to sign an informal non-aggression agreement. However, Ashurst appear to view fellow progressives in the Lib Dems as simply being Tory-lite.
There was indeed bad behaviour from BOTH Labour and Lib Dems. Most notably, Tim Walker stepped down as Lib Dem candidate in Canterbury to give Rosie Duffield a clear run (luckily, she eventually won). However, Lib Dem central office were having none of it and Walker was replaced by Claire Malcomson (she managed just 5.7%) of the vote.
The Liberal Democrats face a revolt from a local party over plans to replace a candidate who unilaterally stood down in a marginal Labour-held seat, saying he wanted to avoid the “nightmare” of handing the constituency back to the Conservatives.
Tim Walker announced in an article for the Guardian that although he did not trust Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit, he wanted to give Rosie Duffield, the Labour candidate who took Canterbury from the Tories for the first time in 2017 by just 187 votes, the best chance of winning.
In the end, Peter Ashurst managed just 4.5% of the vote for Labour – one of the worst on record.
Thank you Peter for all your hard work in helping to ensure a Raab victory. You should be very proud of yourself.
HARDING WAS GREAT. SWINSON? NOT SO GOOD.
We’ll come out and say it, Monica Harding would have been a SUPERB MP for Esher and Walton! We really wanted her to win.
Raab has done literally nothing for the constituency – even the setting up of a free school has been a total disaster. It would have been a massive change to have an MP that actually represented local people in Parliament and cared about us. Is that too much to ask?
Harding was an impressive debater at the three local hustings and was a big hit on the doorstep.
Any prospective candidates needs to tell their own story. Sadiq Khan was ‘the son of the London bus driver’. This is particularly important when the leader of your own party (i.e. Corbyn) wasn’t particularly popular on the doorstep.
Harding’s story of how, out of frustration with Brexit and the state of national politics, she gave up her job and decided to stand as an MP was powerful. As a local school governor, she was particularly strong on education. She also pulled Raab apart at hustings on the environment.
Crucially, Harding grew in confidence as the campaign went on and this was shown in how Raab’s lead narrowed in a tantalisingly close YouGov poll, issued days before voting.
However, the national scene was much more bleak. Jo Swinson turned out to be a MASSIVE disappointment.
It may have seemed bold and brave at the time, but the policy to not have a 2nd Ref, but to actually REVOKE ARTICLE 50, seemed un-democratic for a party called the the Liberal Democrats.
The clarity of the Johnson slogan – three words – “GET BREXIT DONE!” – resonated, even among some in Remain-voting Esher and Walton. People had real concerns that Brexit would be a disaster, but they were simply worn down. Even some Remain voters wanted this nightmare simply to be over with.
Swinson took a lot of flack, much of it sexist in tone. But she also got hung up on issues of marginal interest. The policy to change the law to automatically recognise non-binary gender identities and allow people to self-identify without medical evidence was a total distraction.
During a disastrous interview on Today (Radio 4) she said that sex and gender aren’t as “binary as they are presented”. This issue was a long way off from the concerns of people on the doorstep in Surrey. Esher and Walton is VERY conservative and very white.
Harding needed to reach out to older, aged 60+, white, men, who tend vote Raab. These people tend to reside in ultra-posh Esher and Oxshot and they have a conservative mentality that can be reluctant to vote for anyone new or who they deem as ‘high risk’.
That said, there was massive support in West Molesey and the wealthier East Molesey. These areas, which border Hampton Court, along with the Dittons, are fertile Lib Dem streets and there were streets lined with Lib Dem posters in these areas.
PEOPLE HATED CORBYN
At the last GE2017 Labour was second, all be it not remotely close to beating Raab. This time residents of Esher and Walton rejected Labour almost completely.
However, in the closing stages of the campaign Raab and Tory Party HQ went into “project fear” mode i.e stating that voting Lib Dem would SOMEHOW lead to Corbyn getting into No.10. Of course, there was literally no possibility of this actually happening.
This prompted Raab to get on his computer and create some of the worst social media graphics ever seen in a general election…
The reality is that Corbyn was a mixed blessing for Lib Dems. Far fewer Labour people would have lent their votes if Corbyn was even a vaguely decent leader. On the doorstep people would say how much they despised all the leaders – Johnson, Swinson…but ESPECIALLY Corbyn.
Lib Dems are always in a tricky situation, having to collect support from both former Labour and Tory remain supporters. Monica received endorsements from Michael Heseltine and, even the former Tory MP for Esher and Walton, Ian Taylor. But this may have alienated some Labour people planning to vote Lib Dem.
DID RAAB SEE THE POSTAL VOTES?
Michael Crick may have had a good-old laugh as Raab casually admitted to committing electoral fraud. However, to everyone else this all sounded very dodgy indeed. Particularly, as a relaxed Raab seemed to know he had won GE 2019 way in advance of polling day.
AND THERE WERE SOME LAUGHS….
People really despise Raab in Esher and Walton. We salute Mr Howard Bisell who graffitied his OWN house with this wonderful – RAAB OUT!
And who can forget the singing dog?
IF NOT IN 2019, WHEN?
The Lib Dems had a golden opportunity, but at the end of the day they fell short. Richmond Park aside, it was a terrible night for Lib Dems. Early predictions of Remain voting Surrey (and much of London) going yellow seemed frankly ludicrous as 3 am approached on Friday morning.
Lib Dem’s benefited from a Labour Party with a useless leader and a constituency that voted Remain, yet STILL failed to depose Raab. It begs the question if they couldn’t do it in 2019, will useless Raab EVER go? What a depressing thought.
But Monica Harding is right to be proud of a massive swing and turning Esher and Walton into a marginal for the first time.
Residents have made it clear – we really don’t like Dim Dom. Of course, Raab will no doubt carry on as he has always done – offending food bank users and threatening to privatise our NHS.
Most importantly, he also needs to get justice for Harry Dunn.