In Hackney, a 'bloody nose' seems unlikely

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Indy Politics

The response of the people of Hackney to the news that Brian Sedgemore, the man who had been their MP for more than 20 years, had defected to the Liberal Democrats was a bit like the April weather: decidedly mixed.

The response of the people of Hackney to the news that Brian Sedgemore, the man who had been their MP for more than 20 years, had defected to the Liberal Democrats was a bit like the April weather: decidedly mixed.

While few people felt that it would actually make any substantial difference to the outcome of the election in the Hackney South and Shoreditch constituency, everyone acknowledged that it would help put the issue of the Iraq conflict at the forefront of their minds.

Like many other parts of the East End of London, the constituency is one of contrasts between poverty and affluence. Its population is housed in a mixture of local authority housing, fine Victorian villas and fashionable lofts and is one of the most deprived in the country.

There is no dominant Muslim population, whose opposition to the Iraq war would be likely to erode the big Labour majority, but voters are still concerned about the issue. "I'd like to lodge a protest vote," said Rosy Barlow, 57, "but the Lib Dems are too feeble to be a government, so I'll probably vote Labour as usual.''

Paul Lawrence, 27, an IT worker, said: "I wonder why he didn't do it two years ago. It will affect my vote. I may vote Liberal Democrat."

Yunis Kapadia, 35, an employment adviser, said: "I admire Mr Sedgemore for making a stand, but I have mixed feelings about the war because Saddam Hussein's dictatorship wasn't a good thing.

"I am more concerned about local issues like employment and helping the disadvantaged. I think that it is the Liberal Democrats that most suit me."

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