CLIMATE Rush activist Tamsin Omond will undeniably provide some excitement to the election campaign in Hampstead and Kilburn. Who’s to argue with her idea of getting MPs to do one day of community service every week?
Exciting. But if I was any of the candidates already running in the constituency, I would be most excited if I was Conservative Chris Philp. If Omond’s campaign gathers steam – Katie Davies’s exclusive interview in the Ham & High today suggests she has the supporters and drive to have some impact – it will surely be Labour, the Green Party and the Lib Dems who could see a share of their votes suddenly sucked away.
Chris Philp’s core support is less likely to be distracted, however eloquent Omond makes the case for grass roots MPs who spend more time in the community than Whitehall.
In this sense, Hampstead and Kilburn is not the most obvious place to confront the main parties head on. Full marks to Omond for standing in her home patch – take note Luciana Berger et al – but who’s the target here? Glenda Jackson? Sure, residents in the north of Camden think she’s been thin on the ground but is she so behind the times on climate change politics? Beatrix Campbell was meant to be one of the Green Party’s best candidates in London, and Ed Fordham, the Lib Dem man, has repeatedly promised to put the politics of the environment first. Are they really the bogey men and women that need beating at the ballot box first?
Cynics would say the press coverage, not just on a local level, is too hard to turn down for independents in this particular constituency. In the coming weeks, Fleet Street will send their correspondents here (expect lots of stereotypical ‘colour’ features about Hampstead voters and what the punters in the Holly Bush are saying and the views of NCT new mums). The possible fall of Glenda Jackson, an Oscar winning actress who has reigned supreme for so long in NW3 and environs, will be a media event. On election night, cameras will be zeroing on Glenda as she takes the stage to hear the results. Her opponents dream of a ‘Portillo’ moment.
Omond and her team, whether they somehow collect a significant number of votes or not, will bag maximum exposure in the crossfire. She’s proven she is capable of causing a stir and making sure the cameras are pointing in the right direction – think scaling the Houses of Parliament – when she does. One thing’s for sure, her revolution will be televised.