Election 24: Constituency profile – Hendon

Election 24: Constituency profile – Hendon

Suburban Hendon in north west London has been pretty much on a knife-edge politically since Conservative Matthew Offord took the seat from Labour’s Andrew Dismore in 2010 by just 106 votes. He pushed that margin to 3,724 in 2015, withstood Labour’s 2017 surge by 1,072, and posted a 4,230 majority in 2019.

This time round though, Offord won’t be on the ballot paper. After 22 years representing the area, including eight as a local councillor, the 54-year-old last year became first London MP to announce his retirement from the Commons, saying it was the right time to “pursue other interests in my life”.

Had Offord seen the writing on the wall? Certainly the Brexit supporter, in an area which voted convincingly for Remain, may have felt himself vulnerable to the wider suburban changes which have seen the Electoral Calculus consultancy now characterise his residents as socially liberal “Kind Yuppies”.

Hendon people are now younger than the London average, with new housing development across the area, including significant estate regeneration, helping to shift the demographics, in common with much of outer London. The seat stretches from the Brent Cross shopping centre in the south to the city fringes, bounded by the A5 and bisected by the M1, the A1 and the A41.

It is a mixed constituency too, the most diverse of Barnet’s three: 50 per cent white, 15 per cent Jewish and 16 per cent Muslim, though just six per cent Hindu. A small but significant boundary change has seen Edgwarebury ward, which returned three Tory councillors in the 2022 borough elections, moved into next door Chipping Barnet.

Those 2022 elections also saw Labour taking back the key ward of West Hendon. This had been the site of the party’s Waterloo in 2018 when the Tories gained all three seats there to crush Labour hopes of taking control of the council – a defeat widely attributed by Labour locally to antisemitism and the “Corbyn factor”.

West Hendon now seems to be much safer Labour territory, along with the party fastnesses in Colindale and Burnt Oak, which are the denser and historically less well-off parts of the constituency. With the Tory vote softening in Mill Hill ward too, polling projections are pointing to a big Labour gain in a seat which no longer looks like typical Metroland.

Looking to ride that wave is David Pinto-Duschinsky, contesting the seat for the second time after his narrow defeat in 2019. He’s been building his community campaigning credentials since then, as well as garnering local endorsements, including from former Liberal Democrat activists, and wider support from Labour’s formidable doorstep army.

A management consultant, he is the son of Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor and child refugee Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, an academic and constitutional expert. He cut his teeth standing against George Osborne in Tatton in 2015, and was previously an adviser to Labour chancellor Alistair Darling.

His Conservative opponent is Ameet Jogia, a councillor since 2014 in neighbouring Harrow, where was born and grew up. He has been an adviser to Prime Minister Sunak since December 2022, following 10 years working as an aide to Tory peer and minister Lord Popat of Harrow. In a campaign video he recalls a period of  homelessness as a child when his parents, refugees from East Africa, lost their corner shop business, before being allocated a council flat.

He joined the Tories on his 16th birthday, contested Brent North in 2017, and also worked on Zac Goldsmith’s 2016 London mayoral campaign. That campaign was, of course, not without its controversies, though after his defeat Goldsmith denied using “dog whistle” tactics. Jogia currently co-chairs the Conservative Friends of India, and in 2022 was awarded an MBE for “political and public services”.

Issues in the constituency are familiar, with both main candidates supporting new homes while also opposing “over-development” such as locally controversial plans for tower blocks of up to 29 storeys as part of the proposed redevelopment of the Broadwalk shopping centre by Edgeware Underground station.

Jagia, despite a mayoral election swing to Sadiq Khan in the Barnet & Camden London Assembly constituency, which covers Hendon, says he will work to “scrap ULEZ from Day One”. A last throw of the dice perhaps, and one which this changing area may well see as fighting yesterday’s war.

X/Twitter: Charles Wright and OnLondon. Support OnLondon.co.uk and its writers for just £5 a month or £50 a year and get things for your money too. Photo from Centre for London.

Categories: Analysis

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