|Boris might be using Uxbridge (& South Ruislip) as a springboard to Westminster but local residents – as well as the local Conservatives have a lot to gain from the extra attention.|
I grew up in Hillingdon, and have lived in both Uxbridge and South Ruislip so I didn’t have to Google these places when the Boris speculation first started. The announcement that Sir John Randall is standing down after 17 years as local MP would have gone largely unnoticed in Westminster if Boris had not been keeping everyone guessing about whether he will stand or not. It’s a safe Conservative seat (retained in 2010 with an 11 216 majority) so a great opportunity for Boris but also for the local community.
Here are just a few reasons why Boris as MP would be great news for Uxbridge:
1. Local politics would get a boost
In 2012 Boris won the largest share of Hillingdon’s votes in becoming elected Mayor of London for a second term and according to a recent poll 52% of local residents would vote for him in 2015.
He’s already popular, or at least intriguing, and would quickly become the ‘local’ celebrity. However, he’s also likely to get people voting who usually don’t – or at least get more people talking about local politics and community issues. Although, if elected, he should also expect to have to forward quite a lot of mail to local Councillors as local residents will undoubtedly enjoy the novelty of ‘writing to Boris’ about local Council issues.
2. ….and so would the local Tories
Boris of course first has to convince the local Conservative Association members that he won’t be an ‘absentee MP’ and will take his role seriously – which I’m sure has already been done. If not, a good Boris speech will sway the final few.
I’m also sure that Boris recognises that he’s nothing like Sir John – a well-established local businessman, regular supporter of the local sports teams and ornithologist (zoologist who studies birds), who tweets as @UxbridgeWalrus to his thousand odd followers about local news and bird-watching. He’s been a good MP but few local residents would recognise him in the street, never mind name what he has achieved for his constituency. Boris will easily be able to highlight all the good work that local Conservatives have been doing and the Association will surely attract a few more new members.
3. Boris would take care of his constituents
Boris knows that if elected, his local office will be constantly in the spotlight – which is also good news for his constituents. His career aspirations might not keep him in Uxbridge for as long as Sir John but he’ll ensure his constituents will be taken care of – he can’t afford not to.
4. Heathrow airport – and its local workforce – would get a better deal
Heathrow airport is a major source of employment for local residents and was a big issue in the recent local elections. It’s no secret that the Mayor is strongly against plans for a third Heathrow runway, has even called for its complete closure and backed plans for a rival airport in the Thames Estuary in East London. No wonder the local workforce is worried – according to recent figures released by City Hall, the Estuary airport would create around a third more jobs than an expanded Heathrow.
However, sticking to his hard-line on Heathrow would be difficult on the local campaign trail. Boris would face considerable ‘pro-Heathrow jobs’ opposition, led by Labour’s “Better, Not Bigger Heathrow” campaign. More likely is that we’ll either see a complete strategic U-turn on the issue or a more ‘considerate’ Boris, ready to meet local constituents and take into account their concerns. Either way, it’s good news for Heathrow.
5. Suburban Uxbridge would finally start to feel a bit more part of London
Hillingdon is the second largest of the 32 London boroughs (by area) but rarely attracts much media attention. Boris is already putting Uxbridge on the map.
Uxbridge is a great place to live but is often considered as a commuter town, detached from London, with little reason to ever visit. Boris might bring some of the London ‘sparkle’ to Uxbridge – or at least highlight it as a good place for businesses and investment. Uxbridge is also home to Brunel University, which has 14,000 students and carried out a lot of important research, which I’m sure would welcome the additional publicity.
I, for one, am looking forward to seeing Boris at my local, and hope that on September 12 the Association will recognise what he can offer, and nominate Boris Johnson as their candidate for the 2015 General Election.
Once that’s done – who could stop him?