The 650

One of Acton's cluster of Tube stations.
The 650 | 5th May 2015

West Side Story: who will win Ealing Central and Acton, London’s bellwether?

You may only have heard of Ealing if you’ve been on a Central line train that terminates at Ealing Broadway. And even then, only if you are in that rare cohort of Londoners who pay attention on the Tube.

But dangling from an overlooked branch of the Underground in the far reaches of west London is a place that could decide the outcome of the election.

Ealing Central, and its grittier neighbour, Acton, make up the London constituency variously referred to as the “kingmaker”, “bellwether” and “barometer”. It is a classic Tory/Labour marginal, home to such a wide variety of people that it almost acts as a London within London.

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Can Labour win Finchley & Golders Green?
Featured, Features, The 650 | 5th May 2015

Red London is turning redder. The Conservatives should be terrified

London rarely suffers from a lack of attention. But the understandable preoccupation with Scotland has rendered the election campaign an exception: London’s 73 seats have attracted far less interest than Scotland’s 59.

To Labourites unable to comprehend events north of Berwick-upon-Tweed, the capital provides some solace. A recent YouGov poll gave Labour a 12-point lead in the capital, up from two points in 2010. The party could gain up to ten seats here – even Finchley & Golders Green, the bulk of which formed Margaret Thatcher’s old constituency.

The seat is 89th on Labour’s list of target seats, which should notionally put it out of the party’s reach. But talk that Labour can win here is more than just bluster: a poll from Lord Ashcroft two weeks ago found Labour leading by two points.

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The view from The Shard looking south towards Elephant and Castle.
The 650 | 3rd May 2015

Bermondsey & Old Southwark: Could this be the end for the Lib Dems’ London heartland?

If this is the inequality election, then one of its biggest battles will be fought in Bermondsey and Old Southwark.

On this bright Saturday, with just over two weeks to go, swarms of tourists eat gourmet snacks from Borough Market as they make their way to the Globe’s afternoon performance. The Shard and City Hall glint, ever-present reminders of the power and money lining the riverbank.

Mostly invisible among the hordes of visitors are the constituency’s 130,000 residents, who, bar a banker or two, aren’t here for the buffet of cultural delights. They’re a diverse bunch; the inheritors of the area’s industrial-era docker community and the legacy of its 1970s council estates.

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Painted men stand guard over the store from across the road.
Featured, The 650 | 29th April 2015

East Belfast: Can the DUP win a critical ninth seat in a city where sectarianism still rules?

“The first threat was in December 2012, when the decision was taken. I was in bed. Police arrived at my door in the middle of the night. They told me if I returned to the office or remained in the house, I would be shot. And that this came from a credible loyalist source.

“And then they left. They said they’d return the next morning.”

In East Belfast, death threats are recounted with familiarity. For the past two years, Naomi Long – the constituency’s MP, who ended the 31-year reign of DUP leader Peter Robinson in 2010 – has faced abuse, arson attacks and hoax bombs. The DUP, whose support for the Tories could be crucial in a hung parliament, are now trying relentlessly to win the seat back.

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