General Election 2015: Howard Kaye (Labour)

Post length: 719 words, just over 3 minutes.

This post has been updated with some feedback from the candidate via email. I’ve added footnotes where appropriate, or you can jump straight down to them. I’m grateful to Howard for providing the feedback which clears up a few of my questions and assumptions.


Full name: Howard James Kaye
Party: Labour


Howard Kaye’s leaflet dropped through my door early last week and is the first of the three major parties’ communication to arrive. There are no fewer than two statements apparently written by the candidate — on the first inside page and on the back — but neither of them say much about the candidate himself. It tells us that Kaye has worked in both the public and private sectors for 35 years; it is only on further investigation of his campaign website that we learn Kaye has been a train driver for this time and that it is the era of British Rail which accounts for the public sector claim.1 I do wonder if this is intentional — the socioeconomic makeup of the constituency doesn’t suggest, to me, it might be sympathetic to someone in this line of work.

With this knowledge of Kaye’s background a little more light is shed on why his leaflet includes a small section2 on transport. In it it is asserted that the current rail franchise system is flawed and suggests that there is a solution. Given that large parts of the constituency rely heavily on London commuters this seems like a good point to raise, however it’s interesting to note that there is no mention of what this solution is. I wonder if explicitly talking about bringing the railways back into public ownership was considered to be a little too left-wing for this particular seat or if, in fact, that is not the alternative being hinted at.

The rest of the leaflet covers national issues relating to the NHS, housing, energy and tuition fees. While this election seems to be heavily focused on the NHS, the other issues here seem to have come up less frequently in the national debates. I wonder if these policies were specifically chosen as ones which reflect the interests of the local population or if they are simply a way of the national party pushing a few more fringe issues onto the agenda.3

Kaye’s website fills in the gaps relating to the candidate himself and there are some very pretty pictures, but is lacking in policy substance. The section on the constituency is interesting but not helpful. Based on this I find it hard to believe that the campaign is really being run locally and not just a showpiece in a minister’s seat for the national party.


Judging by previous results, and if the current polls are to be believed, the Labour Party have no chance of winning in South West Surrey. Yet it seems, in Kaye, Labour present a credible candidate. He lives locally and has a background in political campaigning through his involvement with his union. That said, given the constituency, his strong traditional Labour background might work against him. The election communication received so far also feels a little bit lackluster. There is little about the candidate himself and few policies outlined which do not seem to be dictated by the party nationally. Kaye’s website is much more informative about the candidate himself although very thin on policy2. Perhaps it’s resignation that there is not much chance of a Labour victory in South West Surrey which leads to lack of real substance in Kaye’s campaign.

[1] “I did start work with BR (public), then on privatisation I was transferred to EWS (private American operator), I then moved to GNER (private franchise operated by SeaCo), this was then taken over by National Express (private multinational) who handed the franchise back to the government (public) and a month ago I find myself now been employed by Virgin (private).”
[2] “I was aware that long monologues are a bit off putting therefore I kept policy items brief, I have had people contact me for more information.”
[3] “With SWS not been a target seat for Labour what I have done with my leaflets has been down to me, I designed and collated the content along with my wife and a family friend.”

Posted on Monday 27th April, 2015 at 9:26 am in Obiter dicta.
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1 comment

Dear Howard I’m not so fortunate to live in your area, but I am a retired ASLEF member and was present today at the RMS AGM of ASLEF, I live in Southwark and I am a member of the Nunhead group. I originally joined the Labour Party in the time of Harold Wilson. I did get on the “Long List” in the Local Council Elections, a few years ago, but that was the nearest that I have been to any sort of position in the party, I did try a second time ,but, my paperwork was incomplete??? so I’m sorry to say I have not bothered since. Wishing you all the best for future Elections. Kevin Christie

Posted on 18th Nov 2015 at 9:39 pm by Kevin Christie.

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