THE front page of the Camden New Journal after the boroughwide elections in 2002 declared the Greens as the big winners – even though they didn’t win a seat at the Town Hall. The political editors back then decided that the advance made in Highgate ward where Sian Berry, pictured with her colleagues at the count above, and Adrian Oliver ran Labour mighty close heralded the first waves of a sea change. They were right in that four years later the Greens won two seats in the ward, and now hold all three.
Elsewhere on that night in May 2002, the Conservatives failed to make the inroads they would have been hoping for and found themselves bolted to the opposition benches. That’s why Mike Greene, who always personally polled well, looks a little downbeat.
The Liberal Democrats, however, did make gains that were the first signs of the growth that was to come. For the first time, the party won a seat in the Labour fortress of Camden Town and Primrose Hill. See. There is uncontrolled delight on the faces of then group leader Flick Rea, Jonathan Simpson – who later defected to Labour and is now deputy leader of the group – and Jane Schopflin, who sadly is no longer with us. Unfortunately for the Lib Dems back then, their winning candidate in Camden Town, Justin Barnard resigned just days after his victory. A by-election was held and Labour won the seat right back off them.
The narrative, however, was a little like the Greens. The Lib Dems llicked their wounds and came back stronger in 2006: winning two seats in Camden Town and Primrose Hill as they ventured further south than they ever had before. That ward will be a fascinating contest this time around. Labour haven’t been drummed out of the neighbourhood by any respect and I know they fancy a comeback there.