The Recorder election diary: tales from the campaign trail

Ilford North and Ilford South candidates with Recorder staff at the hustings in the Recorder offices

Ilford North and Ilford South candidates with Recorder staff at the hustings in the Recorder offices - Credit: Archant

As voters head to the polls today, we look back at the past six weeks of campaigning.

It was only after parliament was ‘prorogued’ – formally ended – on March 26 that the race really got going.

Labour wasted no time, holding an official campaign launch at Gants Hill Library to kick off the race in Ilford North and Ilford South, inviting Caroline Flint – one of the original Blair Babes – to give a rousing speech to party members.

And the next day, March 27, the Labour leader himself Ed Miliband rolled into town to give Labour’s Wes Streeting a boost, meeting the Recorder for an exclusive interview over a cup of tea – with no bacon sandwiches in sight.

On April 8 the party’s shadow minister for universities, science and skills Liam Byrne joined Ilford North candidate Wes Streeting at Express Toughening in Hainault Business Park, Forest Road, to speak about increasing apprenticeship opportunities.

On April 11, the first Ilford North hustings – organised by a number of Muslim organisations – kicked off the debate. But the topics covered were mostly national issues, with de-radicaliastion, the media, and islamaphobia spoken about at length in what turned out to be a lively introduction to hustings season.

On April 12, shoppers in Gants Hill were treated to an unusual sight as comedian Eddie Izzard paid a visit to lend support to Wes Streeting – dressed in drag. The actor and vocal Labour supporter joined former Olympics minister Tessa Jowell on the visit, and appeared to have dressed as her, in a blazer, scarf and bright Labour-red lipstick.

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On April 13, Ilford South candidates came under fire after just two turned up to the Redbridge Pensioners’ Forum’s hustings – with no-shows later citing date mix-ups and computer problems.

That wasn’t the problem at Barkingside 21’s hustings, with hundreds packing into a very warm Fullwell Cross Library. The event was followed by a special health hustings – chaired by the Recorder – completing a marathon debating session for all six Ilford North candidates.

On April 20, the Recorder welcomed candidates from Ilford North and Ilford South into its HQ on Ilford High Road to take part in our first social media hustings.

Despite a few teething problems – including accidentally signing Lee Scott up to the wrong constituency, and our pretty minimal buffet offering – the event got going, with people tweeting and emailling questions for the candidates.

On April 22, Woodbridge High School hosted another hustings for students, resulting in an argument with Ukip candidate Philip Hyde over Twitter who claimed he was not invited, while the school insisted otherwise.

On April 23, yet another Labour big gun was brought to Barkingside, with shadow business minister Chuka Umunna joining Mr Streeting for a visit to the high street.

On April 25, the Wanstead Society hosted a hustings, with candidates clashing on controversial topics such as Trident and Europe – but all agreeing to support the work of the Friends of Wanstead Parklands.

On April 27, the low-key Conservative campaign in Ilford North hit the other end of the scale, with Boris Johnson blundering into Barkingside in a green, dented Toyota people-carrier sporting a faded “I love Scotland” sticker on the rear bumper. Grabbing Tory candidate Lee Scott in a pally headlock, the pair were mobbed by youngsters as they visited shops on the high street.

And on April 27, voters in Chingford and Woodford Green missed out on hearing from Conservative candidate Iain Duncan Smith – who sent his apologies but was represented by a packet of Sainsbury’s Basics lard, brought by rival Class War party candidate Lisa McKenzie.

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