We now have the official list of persons nominated as candidates for the local elections in Chiswick and there are a couple of interesting ones. Maria Kempinska is standing in Riverside ward for the Polish Pride party and Iain Charles Howell in Homefields for Renew, both parties born of Brexit.
Since over 70% Chiswick voted for Remain in the EU referendum, it should come as no surprise that UKIP didn’t consider it worth standing. Renew is the new party which is attempting to offer an alternative to the status quo: “Political parties have failed us… We need a new generation of people from outside politics to stand for election, lead our country and renew the British dream”. They are campaigning for a second referendum on the final deal negotiated with the EU.
Polish Pride is also a new party, launched in March by a Polish prince, millionaire John Zylinski, which claims to represent EU citizens living in Britain. The prince, who became notorious for challenging Nigel Farage to a duel over the former Ukip leaders’ comments about immigration, reckons they can win seats in places with a high Polish population like Ealing. “I intend to field up to 100 candidates in targeted wards in London where candidates can win seats by polling little more than two thousand votes,” he told the Evening Standard.
Does Chiswick Riverside fit that bill? Maria Kempinska MBE, who set up and ran Jongleurs comedy club for many years until it folded in October last year, grew up in Watford, the daughter of Polish refugee parents. What’s curious is that among those who nominated her are Sam Hearn, Conservative councillor for Chiswick Riverside and Julian Tanner, chairman of the local Conservative party. A little odd that the Conservatives should be nominating someone to stand against them.
Could it be that they’re worried about how tight the race is between Conservative and Labour and since there aren’t enough Poles in Grove Park and Strand on the Green for her to actually win a seat, they’re hoping that siphoning off a few Polish votes from Labour might make all the difference? Not at all says Sam, gently chiding my cynicism. Nominating is merely a question of confirming identity, he says. She’s someone they know well and they welcome more voices in the mix of political debate.