Live Blog: May 7/ 10.45am
DID that just happen?
After hours of waiting in the stifling atmosphere of Haverstock School’s canteen, the General Election in Camden came alive with one of the most stunning wins of the night, given the danger she was in. Glenda’s ‘Great Escape’ was confirmed not long after 8am when she was declared the winner in Hampstead and Kilburn by just 42 votes. You should have heard the rat-a-tat screams of Glenda! GlenDA! GLENDA!
The clues to this unforeseen win, as eventually suggested on these pages, were in the results elsewhere.. Karen Buck, Emily Thornberry and Jeremy Corbyn led the way for Labour with spectacular wins. Frank Dobson and Jackson duly followed suit, essentially untroubled by the Lib Dems.
Labour critics of the Lib Dems can say they had the last laugh this morning, their predictions of a Jackson victory in a redrawn constituency had not been given enough weight against the backdrop of Gordon Brown’s awful national campaign.
Labour briefers were to large extent right when they said that the much-vaunted ‘Clegg Effect’ would have little sway on the polls in Camden, where voters were already familiar of Lib Dem handiwork. And when it came to marking a cross, a cross for the Lib Dems, away from Frank and Glenda, was clearly a leap of faith too far this time.
The Lib Dem charge to win a parliamentary seat in Camden for the first time was, as they said, wrapped in hype, the support ultimately too soft.
The scene at Haverstock this morning will live with me and I’m sure the pack of all journalists that were there. Glenda could have got up and said: Told you all so. Lots of time. She instead spent her time with warm thank yous to a campaign team that has clearly worked harder than anybody outside the Labour Party had imagined.
Conservative Chris Philp, so close to a life-changing victory, made a particularly gracious loser’s speech, full of humility. Around the side of the gym, there were Lib Dem head in their hands, eyes watering in a shock they did not see coming. They have invested years of work, not for this. Some of them were absolutely certain that Ed Fordham would beat Glenda Jackson, and had a genuine suspicion too that Jo Shaw would run Dobson much closer than she did. She was nearly 10,000 votes short.
I was wrong too. I thought Glenda was off the mark during the campaign and that she had misread how much peril she was in. Of course, she was only 42 votes from losing, but she was right every time she insisted she was bang in the middle of the running. This success was the ultimate answer to so many doubters who had begun wondering what Philp or Fordham would be like as MP.
The icy growl people talk about was nowhere to be seen in Glenda this morning. But then this was emotional stuff. A frog even caught Dobson’s throat.