Virendra Sharma should be sitting pretty. At the time of writing, Paddy Power had odds on him to retake his seat of Ealing Southall in the House of Commons at 1/200. It's one of safer seats in the land.
However, Mr Sharma has been blasted by a senior member of the outgoing Labour front bench, accusing the incumbent MP of being “lazy” and taking his constituents for granted on account of his large majority. The source said, “I don't want to speak ill of a colleague, but I do wonder where he is half the time.”
Sharma has a reputation in the House of Commons for skulking off early, and indeed his absence is mocked on the record in Hansard. It's a serious matter, however; this man is supposed to be representing our interests in Westminster. Our taxes pay his wages.
We wanted to find out for ourselves how local people feel about their MP. Sure enough, local residents confirm that they can never find Mr Sharma when they need him. However, it is the Heathrow issue that most shocks people on the doorstep. After resigning from Gordon Brown's government over Heathrow expansion in 2009, Mr Sharma has since had a bewildering epiphany, perhaps lured in by the useless sweeteners on offer; climate change and noise pollution be damned. Most people assume that Sharma still opposes Heathrow expansion, but word is spreading that he's turned to the dark side.
So what alternative do people have? Divisive, anti-immigration rhetoric from the likes of UKIP cuts little ice in diverse Ealing. The uncertainty of a hard Brexit per the Tory playbook raises eyebrows too, given how much London's economy depends on its connections with the rest of the world.
Traditionally, Southall has not been fertile ground for the Green Party. A local party source says that their traditional support base has been in more affluent areas of Ealing, but things are starting to change.
Ealing Green Party Chair and prospective parliamentary candidate for Ealing Southall, Peter Ward, had this to say: “We have found more and more people in places like Southall and Greenford are coming to us and saying it's time for a change. The Labour council has really let Ealing residents down on local issues such as rubbish collection, and flogging off public property like Ealing Town Hall. We cannot forgive them for giving away green spaces like Warren Farm. People tell us that Labour is arrogant and complacent, and they are looking for something different.”
After the Green Party pulled off stunning wins in the 2016 council elections in Solihull, they might just be about to repeat to the trick in Ealing.
So could it all be over shameless Sharma? Watch this space.