A BIT of cheeky – but predictable – leaflet sport on Chris Philp’s latest despatch in Hampstead and Kilburn. It includes the bold claim that ‘local newspapers are tipping a Conservative gain’. This in the week that the Ham & High ran a hustings report with a blazing ‘Glenda triumphs’ headline. Maybe be I’ve missed something but it seems to me that rather than ‘tipping’ any one candidate, both the Ham & High and the New Journal have been pretty clear about the three way nature of the constituency. It’s too close to call – that’s what will make it one of the most intriguing areas in the country come May 6. You won’t see me down Ladbrokes seeking a flutter on this one.
There is of course the small matter of our graph which has been reproduced on Chris’s leaflets without any consent that I know of from our offices (all the parties do this, there’s not much you can do about it). Now, it does show a Tory lead and is based on genuine polling in Hampstead and Kilburn. But let’s be clear people: the survey took place more than 18 months ago and despite showing good Conservative support, the party was almost immediately stunned by the Lib Dems in a by-election in Hampstead Town. It’s been back and forth ever since, and it’s a huge leap to jump from those early indicators to a claim that ‘local newspapers are tipping a Conservative gain’. We’ve seen choppy swings back and forth on the national scene. Expect just as much turbulence locally.
All the parties are guilty of a bit of spin and distortion on their leaflets. The ‘they can’t win here’ line is the most tiresome of the lot. Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems all have a great, battling chance in Hampstead and Kilburn – don’t be fooled by the leaflet drops into thinking otherwise.