AND with this wave of excitement, Chris Philp’s only narrowly unsuccessful campaign to unseat Glenda Jackson in Hampstead and Kilburn began in December 2006. He won a vote at an open primary event at Old Hampstead Town Hall in Belsize Park, that’s where potential constituents rather than party members choose a General Election candidate at a sort of open to all hustings.
Chris, as we now know, ended up losing the constituency by just 42 votes on Friday. But what of the people he beat that night to become the candidate of what was a coveted seat on the Conservative list. All of them were involved in elections on Thursday in some form. Lindsey Hall retained her Abbey Road council seat in Westminster City Council elections by a country mile. Less fortunate, Richard Merrin took on the near impossible parliamentary seat of Hornsey and Wood Green. Unsurprisingly, Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone was returned there.
But what of the man at the Open Primary who I recall local Tories knew least about: James Morris, pictured on the right, above with Hall and Merrin.
Well, unlike Chris, he’ll be heading straight to the House of Commons after being responsible for an important Conservative gain in Halesowen and Rowley Regis, in the West Midlands. It was the first time a Tory has won in the constituency since it was created in 1997.
Morris, who if he had been selected pledged to send Hampstead and Kilburn’s Lib Dem candidate Ed Fordham ‘back to his roman coin collection’ from the open primary stage four years ago, won by 2,000 votes – a key win in making sure David Cameron returned the highest number of MPs. And so, in a twist of irony, Chris must wait for another shot at getting to the Commons, while Morris – the loser that night – is already on his way for his induction.