The immediate political consequence of the death of my father Mushtaq Qureshi, who was a serving Councillor for the Queen’s Park ward in the City of Westminster, was that a by-election was called on the 10th of December. Given the general trepidation caused by such elections, and after the shock of losing the Church Street by-election in July 2008, you would be forgiven for thinking that Labour had a lot to fear.
In the event, whilst there was a low turnout (16.46 per cent), which was to be expected given the proximity to the Christmas break, we held the seat comfortably, with a very satisfactory 11 per cent swing to Labour from the Tories. It was one of Labour’s best results in London this year. This should be of real concern to the Tories, as they threw everything at this by-election and were rewarded with their worst result for over a century, getting the lowest numerical vote for any Tory candidate in Queen’s Park since 1903. Although it was the first time the Greens had contested the ward, their candidate Susanna Rustin came third, beating the Lib Dems into fourth place. All this bodes well for Karen Buck MP in the new Westminster North seat in the forthcoming general election.
Finally, my father would have been delighted to see his political legacy bringing about such a decisive Labour victory and providing a firm foundation on which to build a Labour campaign in next year’s general election and council elections. And the newly elected Councillor Patricia McAllister (pictured) will make a worthy representative of the community in Queen’s Park for years to come.