Ilford MPs could do battle under boundary changes

The proposed abolition of the Ilford South constituency has opened the possibility of a battle between two popular MPs for the remaining Ilford North seat.

The southern seat held by Labour MP Mike Gapes since 1992 will disappear if boundary commision proposals go ahead, meaning he may go head to head to Conservative Lee Scott for the enlarged Ilford North domain.

Mr Gapes, who lived in Woodford Green as a young child, was a candidate for the constituency in 1983 when he was beaten by Tory Vivian Bendall.

Mr Scott said that, if it came about, he would welcome the electoral contest with his rival. He told the Recorder: “Mike and myself are very good friends, although our political views differ we get on very well. It would be a good clean fight.

“I am used to fighting marginal seats, so that doesn’t bother me.”

In 2000 Mr Scott, who grew up in Wanstead, won Ilford North from sitting Labour MP Linda Perham with a majority of only 1,653.

Analysis by the Guardian newspaper this week suggested that the enlarged Ilford North constituency would have fallen to Labour if it had been in place during the 2010 election.

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Mike Gapes said he would look at “all options” before deciding his next move, calling the commission’s plans a “crude mathmatical formula” that will wipe aside his 20-years of building community links in the south of the borough.

Mr Gapes also knows what it is like to win with a small majority. In 1992 he won Ilford South after a recount with only 402 votes.

See today’s Ilford Recorder for full coverage, including a map of how Redbridge will be affected by the proposed changes to parliament.