IN September 2008, Conservative Stephen Phillips QC must have been gutted when he failed to hold Hampstead Town for his party in a Camden Council by-election. Linda Chung, the Lib Dem, won the seat. In a ward which often appears like it can’t actually make up its mind between the Conservatives or the Lib Dems (ssshh! don’t tell Chris Knight I said that), the difference was little more than a 100 votes.
Still, every cloud and all that… Phillips, eighteen months later, looks set for more important green benches than the Town Hall. He should feel confident about thinking how he will organise an office at the House of Commons. He is, I’ve only just cottoned on, the 1/100 dead cert to get elected to Parliament after being chosen as the Conservative candidate for Sleaford North Hykeham.
If when he is elected, he will fill the shoes of Douglas Hogg, moat man.
To be fair to Phillips – the chairman of governors at Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children when the council ordered it to move from its site in Swiss Cottage – he hasn’t just slipped off up there and pretended to be Mr Superlocal in his new territory. It’s hard to do that when his political career seemed to be beginning in Camden, rather than Lincolnshire, so recently. He has admitted to the local paper his family had to go house-hunting after winning an open primary event.
“The shortlisted candidates were chosen by the association here and it is simply incorrect to say they were imposed by Central Office. We are hoping to become locals and be welcomed in the same way others have been to this beautiful county,” he told the Lincolnshire Echo, as those familiar moans about the local association not plumping for a local resident emerged late last year.