YES. We know Blair used to live in Islington…

THE nationals are descending on constituencies like Hampstead and Kilburn, and Islington South and Finsbury for colour pieces, filing sketches from north London as if they are embedded in some faraway land. I’m sure they all itching to use the word ‘leafy’.

Such is the interest, The Times reported on a hustings hosted by the Ham & High before the Ham & High had even got their account into print. Maybe that was agreed in advance buI’m not sure that’s so fair on the paper up the road.

In the case of Islington, there is something more irritating than simply finding a million colourful words for  ‘gentrified’ in Hampstead. Journalists who drop in here simply cannot resist referring to Blair’s former house in the borough and that Granita restaurant deal he hatched with Brown. Pfff… How many times are we going to be told that Granita is now a ‘tex mex joint called Desperados’? I guess a few more times between now and next week.

Feature writer Damian Whitworth at The Times is the latest to tread where many others have not feared to go before. Not so long ago, David Cohen at The Standard was running a similar line.

Actual truth is, that as much as journalists love to floridly scene-set about what’s happened in these streets before, the fact that Tony Blair lived in Islington and met Brown in Upper Street for dinner now has little relevance to the Fox vs Thornberry prize fight on May 6.

Ah but the disillusionment with Blair – and now Brown – is why Bridget Fox for the Liberal Democrats even has a chance, newsdesks will argue. Maybe, maybe not. Those rumblings of discontent aren’t unique to Islington, you can find it in large pockets all over the country. That’s why this election will be so close, not only  in Islington South but on a national scale as well. Surely, hopefully, surely, hopefully, hopefully, surely there are far more pressing issues for Islington’s future than hoary old recollections of Granita. Step away from Upper Street and tour the council estates and you’ll find a good place to start. You can even discover (here it comes, folks) the borough’s troubles properly documented on the pages of the Islington Tribune every week.

To be fair to Whitworth, once he gets over the Blair thing, does do the legwork on the beat with the two main candidates, ‘a pixie librarian vs a chemically enhanced Mrs Tiggywinkle’. The Thameslink skit is a good idea too. Video accompanies the latest two page spread. Best bit of the film? Thornberry shouting: ”There is no Clegg-o-mania here!” There is always an ‘o’ in it when people say Cleggmania out loud.

There is a point that the Lib Dems are nothing new in Islington, but do we believe her that nothing has changed post Clegg-on-the-telly? Noises from some confident Lib Dems in Islington suggest Fox is now at the stage where she is building a majority rather than running Thornberry to the line. It will be fascinating to find out if they are right.

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