NICK Clegg yesterday parked his battle bus on Glenda Jackson’s lawn to get his party’s General Election campaign kickstarted. He was given a clapping frenzy welcome in Lymington Road, where the yellow balloons carriers and orange stickers were out in force. It’s nice for any leader to be granted by so many friendly faces, however orchestrated the applause – but Clegg’s eyes would have locked on one familiar smile in particular.
Liberal Democrat councillor Russell Eagling, with an access all areas bus ticket draped around his neck, was described by Clegg as his “first campaign manager”. Eagling helped to give Clegg’s career a gee up when he was head of office in the Midlands somewhere around the late 1990s.
Eagling, a solid councillor during the last four years in Fortune Green who has been a bit of a mediator when different parts of the group in Camden have disagreed, fished around in Midlands politics for several years before heading to London. His website explains how he stood for election on Stoke-on-Trent council. Links-a-plenty, Ed Fordham, Jackson’s Lib Dem opponent who Clegg was giving a boost to by bringing the bus to West Hampstead, was beaten in the same city when he stood for as the Lib Dem candidate in the 1997 general election. Clearly tapped into the Lib Dem high command, could we expect Fordham to be catapulted to Clegg’s front bench if he wins in Hampstead and Kilburn on May 6?