Chrissy Brand reports from Hastings and Rye where the tiny Tory majority of 346 votes in 2017 is set to be overturned by Labour
The left has been active and mobilised in Hastings and Rye ever since the narrow loss to Amber Rudd at the 2017 General Election. The Labour Party and Momentum have been door knocking and leafleting for the past two years, encouraging locals, including many who have never previously voted, to register and put their vote to good use to send a Labour MP to Westminster. Hastings Borough Council leader and Labour Party candidate Peter Chowney is ready to take on that role.
This General Election campaign has been positive, with hundreds of Labour supporters taking to the streets from early mornings to late at night; talking with London-bound commuters at the train stations at dawn, chatting with people in wards who have felt disenfranchised until now, running regular street stalls in Hastings and St Leonards and making sure a red presence is felt throughout the constituency. Visits from Jeremy Corbyn, Aaron Bastani, Steve Coogan and Owen Jones have helped bolster the feeling that Labour really can win this seat.
There is no denying that the relentless onslaught of pro-Tory bias and lies from the BBC and other right wing media has taken hold with some people. However, the word on the street in the past couple of weeks is that the tide is turning and the positive campaign being waged nationally and locally by Labour is taking hold of the hearts and minds of the masses.
As in 2017, the Green Party agreed to step down, to help Labour. To the point, in fact, where many Green supporters have been helping in the campaign. Meanwhile, Tory support is mostly from wealthy people in Rye and the rural areas to the east of Hastings. Local candidate Sally-Ann Hart, who replaced the despised Amber Rudd, is in deep trouble even within her own racist party. A second Tory Party investigation is underway for her support of a Nazi post and antisemitic slurs.
In addition, Hart made national headline news during the Hastings Hustings last week when she declared that disabled people should be paid less as they don't understand money and work for "the happiness" of it
A zenith was reached on the lunchtime of Wednesday 11 December, when the daily Labour Party stall in Wellington Place was joined by the latest innovative Extinction Rebellion group's protest: a dystopian (but possibly inevitable if Labour does not seize power) scenario of it being the year 2025, when water is rationed and only available through distribution by privatised companies. This will have come about thanks to government lack of action on the climate emergency. Only Labour's New Green Deal can prevent this becoming a reality.
This inspiring united front was bolstered by the appearance of the People's Assembly Against Austerity's ad van, visiting marginal constituencies and displaying a Big Brother-like image of Johnson, alongside the words "I can't be trusted, I close fire stations, I put kids into poverty, I will sell your NHS, I heart Trump."
Going into election day, Hastings and Rye is confident we will see a Labour gain from the treacherous Tories. After a final day of campaigning, we will assemble at 10 pm in Hastings' White Rock Hotel and then onto the Printworks, for a long night, in solidarity as the results come in.
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