Here’s what we know so far about the 2017 General Election in Hertsmere

Prime Minister Theresa May announcing her decision to go for a snap general election in Downing Street on 18 May 2017There will be a General Election. The House of Commons has voted 522 to 13 to approve the Government’s motion for an early General Election and it will take place on 8 June.

It was a complete surprise – and not just for electors. When I called the office of our MP Oliver Dowden after Theresa May’s Downing Street announcement yesterday, the staffer I spoke to said “when I came to work this morning, I was not expecting a General Election”.

I’m waiting to hear whether Dowden will be seek selection again. I’ve also asked 2015 Labour candidate Richard Butler if he’ll be running and Hertsmere UKIP if they will put forward a candidate. The Greens put up no candidate in 2015 and if I can reach them I’ll ask if they plan to this time.

Hertsmere is, of course, a very safe Conservative seat, so expect no fireworks on June 8th. All the interest will be in the detail. The 2015 result was all about the collapse of the Liberals and the rise of UKIP – almost the whole of the 11.8% swing away from the Liberal Democrats went to UKIP’s Frank Ward and UKIP wound up with more than twice the Liberal vote. Here’s my analysis from May 2015, with detailed results. Turnout was 67.9%.

Brexit, of course, looms large in this vote. Hertsmere voted Leave, by a slightly smaller margin than the country as a whole. Turnout was 76.6%. It’s not possible to break out the Radlett vote for the referendum but our own opinion poll produced a small lead for Remain which, given the profile of the community and its dependence on jobs in the City, doesn’t seem implausible. Read my detailed analysis, putting the Hertsmere vote in the local and national context, here.

We’ll try to post some interesting and helpful stuff here during the run-up to this most interesting election – and will come up with a way to poll Radlett voters too, as we did for the referendum. Do please get in touch if you have any ideas about how we should cover the election from a Radlett perspective. We’re on Twitter (at @RadlettWire) and on Facebook, of course.

Radlett’s EU referendum vote in context

Hertsmere EU Referendum 2016 results comparison

It was, let’s face it, a surprise. As late as the close of polling on Thursday bookmakers were still offering 7/1 on Brexit (that’s a 12.5% probability). The opinion polls weren’t too far off for this vote but still gave Remain a small lead.

Our polling district, Hertsmere, voted Leave by a margin of 1.6% (50.8 – 49.2%), putting the district 262nd of the 382 polling districts – meaning that 261 districts, or 68% of the total, had larger majorities for Leave.

The table, which uses data from the BBC web site, puts Hertsmere in the context of its immediate neighbours and confirms what we essentially already know about the vote in England. London, and a handful of other urban districts, voted Remain, while prosperous suburbs, rural areas and struggling towns voted Leave. The three London boroughs to Radlett’s South voted Remain and all of our other neighbours outside London (except St Albans) voted Leave.

For comparison, I’ve included London itself and the constituency with the largest Leave vote – Boston in Lincolnshire – and the one with the largest Remain vote – Lambeth (I’ve excluded the obvious outlier, Gibraltar, where all but 823 people voted to remain).

It’s difficult to know how Radlett itself voted. The referendum poll – unlike general elections – is not broken down by ward and, of course, there’s no such thing as a ‘safe seat’ in a referendum. Every vote counts. Our own opinion poll of local voters gave a small win to Remain.

And incidentally, the Radlett margin predicted by our poll (which closed on the morning of the referendum) was exactly the same as the actual margin achieved by Remain in critical North East district Newcastle upon Tyne – the first mainland seat declared and the one that got Remainers sweating because it came in below the number suggested by the BBC model.

Radlett Wire EU referendum poll results graphic

Some local people are clearly in shock – especially those whose jobs depend on the financial sector. Others are celebrating. Were you surprised by the result? Do you think we’ve made a terrible mistake? Or is this, as Nigel Farage puts it, a ‘new dawn’ for Britain? Leave a comment below (anonymously if you like) and we’ll share your reactions here, on Facebook and on Twitter.

The Guardian and the BBC both have excellent detailed analysis of the national results.

Lord Ashcroft’s detailed polling, published the day after the referendum, is essential reading.

EU Referendum – Hertsmere has voted

Hertsmere EU referendum result

Leave wins in Hertsmere, by a margin of about 0.9%. And against the backdrop, as I write this at 3.40 a.m., of a bigger vote for Leave than expected. In our Radlett opinion poll, which closed just before the polls opened on Thursday morning, Remain was ahead by about 1.5%.

Turnout for the referendum in Hertsmere was 76.6%, against 67.9% in the last general election and 71% for the referendum nationally. The people of Hertsmere were interested enough to get out and vote, even in Thursday’s storms.

By the time you read this, it’ll probably all be over. The BBC has all the results.

The Radlett Wire EU referendum poll – the results are in

Our EU referendum opinion poll closed early this morning. You voted – narrowly – in favour of Remain. Now it’s time for the real thing. During the ten days the poll was live, things moved around a lot, though, and both sides had a majority at one point or another. With a sample of 361, the poll is probably pretty representative.

Final results of Radlett Wire's EU referendum opinion poll
Turnout in Hertsmere at the last general election, in 2015, was 67.9%. Will the feverish – not to say furious – atmosphere of the campaign and the sheer gravity of the decision we have to make produce a higher turnout? Or will the rain keep voters at home? We’ll know in about twenty hours.

We’ll be at the count and will bring you the results as soon as they’re public. Follow us on Twitter or on Facebook to get the news first.

How will Radlett vote in the EU referendum?

UPDATE: we closed the poll early this morning, before voting in the referendum began. A total of 361 votes were received. The final results are in the poll box below.

It doesn’t matter where you stand on EU membership – everyone is agreed that this may well be the most important vote that any of us make in our lifetimes. And the drama, the acrimony, the unexpected twists and turns have made the campaign so far the most gripping/energising/infuriating (take your pick) in recent electoral history.

So wouldn’t it be interesting to know how Radlett is going to vote in the referendum?

In general and local elections, Radlett votes Conservative. And Conservatives, if the polls are to be believed, will vote leave, by a substantial majority.

So will Radlett vote leave? Or will a commuter town with a big dependence on the City and on the financial sector buck the trend and vote to remain?

With ten days to go before the real vote, let’s find out. Vote below to tell us how you’re planning to vote (anonymously, of course) and we’ll share the results here and on our social media accounts.

In the poll below, we’ve used exactly the language that you’ll see on the referendum polling form and we’ve added a third question for don’t-knows and people who haven’t made their minds up yet.

You can only vote once and you can see the results so far once you’ve voted.

Everything you need to know about Gefiltefest

Logo for Jewish food festival Gefiltefest 2016Gefiltestfest is seven years old. The quirky festival of Jewish food returns to JW3 in Finchley Road on 26 June. I spoke to the festival’s Lisa Helpern for the low-down.

1. What’s the origin of the festival? Who’s idea was it?

It was founded by publisher Michael Leventhal as a charity to explore Jewish heritage through the medium of food.

2. In London in the Summer you can’t move for food festivals and pop-ups. What’s going to make hungry people come down to JW3?

We offer something quite different – aside from our fabulous pop up market there are 40 sessions to choose from throughout the day – workshops, demos, learning sessions, all with the common thread of Jewish food and culture, led by Jewish Chefs, food writers, restauranteurs and so on. We are also kosher under the auspices of the SKA (Sephardi Kashrut Authority)

3. Is Gefiltefest just for Jewish foodies? Or for hungry people in general?

The festival’s for everyone! It’s part of the fabric of London’s cultural diversity.

4. Is Jewish food thriving and evolving? Or is it all about fading traditions?

Most definitely thriving – reinvented and renewed and very in vogue. Take Palomar, the award winning Soho restaurant; Emma Spitzer, last year’s MasterChef runner-up and Aron’s Deli in Bristol – all contemporary success stories in Jewish-inspired cuisine.

5. Who are the superstars at this year’s Gefiltefest? Who should I rush to see?

Everyone! Take a look at the programme (and there are two wine tasting sessions too).

6. What are the big trends in Jewish food you’ll be covering?

Babka, rainbow doughs, kosher prawns, and seasonal eating in line with the jewish calendar.

7. Can I learn to cook at Gefiltefest?

Yes – plenty of workshops and demos (your admission ticket also covers the workshops).

8. Is there anything for the kids to do?

We’ve got drop-off sessions for 5-11 year old through the day and supervised drop-in sessions for 2-11s. There are craft activities through the day, face painters and plenty of tasters in the food market.

9. What are you looking forward to most? What’s got your mouth watering?

Nof Atamna Ismaeel – Israel’s MasterChef winner from 2014 – she’s a microbiologist and an Arab citizen of Israel. Her dishes combine Arab and Israeli traditions in a really exciting way (more about her on the festival web site).

10. Will there be rainbow bagels?

One step beyond, natch – rainbow doughs in hamantaschen!

If you buy tickets in advance there are reduced prices for children and family groups.

All ticket holders will be entered into a draw to win Monarch flights to Israel and sponsor KFH will be holding a draw to win £300 of John Lewis vouchers. There’s also a competition to win a meal cooked for you by UK Masterchef runner-up Emma Spitzer.

Police and crime commissioner – no surprises but a big increase in turn-out

David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, standing in front of a Hertfordshire Police signConservative David Lloyd has been re-elected. Most people don’t know who their Police Commissioner is and surveys have shown that many have no idea what they do. Something’s obviously changed in Hertfordshire, though, because turn-out for the vote more than doubled, from a disastrous 14.5% in 2012 to an almost creditable 29% this year – and that’s in a year with no local authority elections to boost the vote.

None of the candidates secured 50% of the vote in the first round so counting went to a second round, in which Lloyd beat the Labour candidate Kerry Pollard 126,069 votes to 85,854. Chris White, the Liberal candidate, came third, with 38,488 of first round votes. The UKIP candidate, who is a financial adviser to ‘professionals and the comfortably well-off’ in Royston, came dead last.

Your MP voted against admitting 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees

Oliver Dowden, Conservative MP for Hertsmere, is loyal. He’s never rebelled against the government, so we shouldn’t be surprised that, on 25 April, he voted against an amendment to the Immigration Bill that would have allowed 3,000 child refugees currently stuck on the Continent entry to the UK. Only five Conservatives voted for the amendment: Geoffrey Cox, Tania Mathis, Stephen Phillips, Will Quince and David Warburton. The amendment, tabled by Lord Dubs in the House of Lords, was rejected 294 to 276, giving a majority of 18.

Radlett residents roar… and the Red Lion listens

Red Lion Radlett

The arrival of new garden chairs and tables outside the Red Lion in Radlett on Thursday caused a reaction from residents almost as colourful as the furniture. Radlett’s response has resulted in the chairs and tables being removed and Youngs tweeting:

The metal chairs and tables, which were in bright yellow, orange and green and placed at the front of the Red Lion, became the subject of lively discussion online both on Twitter and the Facebook Radlett Village page. Many expressed surprise at seeing the new layout:

I drove past today and saw these! Thought there must have been some event and they were temporary! Not a good look!
Marcia Devine

It looks so cheap and nasty and totally un-inviting. Not somewhere you’d like to sit and relax!
Alana Riedl

People wondered if the chairs were in keeping with Radlett’s general appearance:

They look awful. Whatever possessed them to go and get outdoor furniture that would look better in a playground than a pub?? Maybe they need to go specsavers?
Sandra Beale

Whilst I am all for stylish modernisation, I do think the selection are simply bad taste and better suited to a beach bar. I think the neon would look a lot more attractive through the lens of my sunglasses.
Monique Spevock

And although not everyone disliked them they still weren’t convinced they were a good fit for the village:

I love them!!!! Granted they don’t suit the pub but I love the colours!
Susan Grace Farran

I’m not so bothered by the look of them although Youngs should have thought about whether a “one size fits all” approach would work-Putney this isn’t! I’m more bothered by the fact that the seats look exceedingly uncomfortable and the tables look too small for everyone to have space to eat!
Katie Lavan

A lively discussion developed about why such colours were chosen:

Perhaps this Operations Manager is hoping for his own version of the Turner Prize..?(!)
Phil Wye

Do they glow in the dark?!
Emma Kilkenny

Yeah maybe they are trying to counter the energy saving lighting regime that switches off half the streetlights at 12am!
Nick Robinson.

On Twitter, the Area Manager of Youngs, Andy Turner, was pleased with the results posting pictures saying “wow”. However responses were less ‘wow’ and more ‘why?’.

The discussion on social media was, on the whole very good humoured, as Radlett folk had fun likening the chairs to highlighter pens, playground furniture and even the Teletubbies. Someone suggested patrons should wear hi-viz clothing to match the chairs, others that perhaps rave culture had come to the village.

Youngs reacted very quickly to the feedback and by Sunday the chairs were gone. The Red Lion is now seeking suggestions on the patio furniture:

What do you think the front of the Radlett Red Lion should look like? Leave a comment here or join us on Facebook or Twitter.