Tessa and the softies

IT would be great to know how Tessa Jowell phrased it when she told Guardian writer and blogger Dave Hill that Glenda Jackson’s rebelliousness still appealed to voters – and might just get her re-elected yet.

Well Dave,” Tessa might have said. “You know  She’s a bit awkward. A bit snappy. She doesn’t vote in the same way as us cabinet-y figures. That’s why people like her and she can still win.”

But the feeling among people who usually vote Labour in Hampstead (and Kilburn) doesn’t really bear that theory out. Door-knocking in the area this week found there is more irritation with Glenda, possibly self-inflicted, possibly whipped up by opponents, than ever before. Forget policies and ideas, the old you never see her out shopping here because she lives in south London line is beginning to stalk her.

As I reported in the New Journal today, a quantity of ‘old Labour voters’ have been won over by the Lib Dems, the so-called ‘progressive’ vote no longer convinced by Ms Jackson in the same way that Frank Dobson maintains support in the south of Camden.

There is a sense among people who should be celebrating her candidature that she is detached and won’t play the game. She’s right if she thinks press soundbites and photo shoots can be lightweight, below serious debate. But this is the pitch she’s playing on, a pitch where a campaign can collapse on the back of 20 seconds of candid mumbles in the back of a car.

In an online interview, Glenda told Twitter maestro @whampstead this week: “I can only go on what I do and if it isn’t particularly visible, well there’s nothing I can do about that.

Rightly or wrongly, this comes across as pretty bullish, stubborn even, as most Labour party members with even an inkling about press relations know there is something she could actually do about that. Newsdesks are only a phone call away.

Yet back to Jowell, the former Camden councillor, and her comments relayed through Hill’s blog do have some purchase. My personal door knocks survey this weeks seem to match her canvassing in one sense: we both probably agree that the Lib Dems need to turn soft poll gains into real hard votes to finish the job in Hampstead and Kilburn. Hill’s blog reads:

She (Tessa) said that many of those telling canvassers they were thinking of voting Lib Dem were young, not sure they would vote at all and possibly not registered anyway. On the strength of this she insisted that Glenda Jackson and Emily Thornberry (Islington South) would hold on to their seats, helped by their local reputations: Jackson’s for rebelliousness, Thornberry’s for grassroots graft.

Tessa’s argument that sounds like a possible escape hatch for Glenda, who needs one pretty fast now. But what a way that would be to win, eh? Knowing you got re-elected, not because of your strong decisions on tricky politics, but because enough voters who were planning to vote for somebody else hadn’t got registered in time to take part or stayed in to watch Mock The Week instead, or whatever the young folks do these days after work.

Labour thinks rebelliousness can still win back the softies. No doubt Glenda’s voting record, with its occasional stab at her own government, will be revived several times on the doorstep this week in one last throw of the dice.

1 Comment on Tessa and the softies

  1. Local Tory // April 30, 2010 at 12:12 pm //

    No one who considers themselves progressive could possibly vote Labour. Not too much progressive about lying to start a war, allowing extradition to the US without evidence, retaining the DNA of nearly 1m wholly innocent people, harrassing peaceful protesters who, unlike the government, are trying to do something about climate change, and having people arrested for wearing a T shirt saying “Bollocks to Blair”. Just off the top of my head. A free country? It would be a nice idea.

    Glenda’s still on that ticket, rebel or not.

    What’s less clear is why any progressive would support the LDs. A tax and spend big state isn’t “liberal”, which I always thought meant allowing choice and not imposing your views on other people. Cameron’s big society and boosting “intermediate institutions” like charities is the truely liberal policy. Trying to fiddle the voting system so your party is (as they hope) always in power is hardly “democratic”. (Plus there is every danger it will give us BNP MPs, but hey, I guess that doesn’t matter so long as more LD activists can make a career in parliament, eh?) And locally in H and K, the LD candidate is the ONLY candidate who has never had a proper job outside politics. At least Glenda and Chris (and yes even Bea) have some real achievements to their name. A vote for change? Yeah, right. Just another insider with a sense of entitlement.

    People, you were given the vote to make an informed choice for the good of the country, not to pose fetchingly at a Hampstead dinner party. Six days to save the country. Lets not blow it mistaking where the real progressive are.

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