Undefeated – but who’s next?

Mock-up from today's New Journal by Tony Kiely

THE Camden New Journal reports today writer AN Wilson’s chuckly comments about Labour being so in control of Holborn and St Pancras that the party could select a pig and still win the seat. How demoralising they are for the opponents that Frank Donson has seen off over eight election wins.

Wilson’s view of course doesn’t take into account the groundwork in the area that Dobson has put in over the bulk of his political life. As irritating as it may be for his opponents, people see him as a good constituency MP who understands how the south of Camden ticks. He is fond of history lessons which play well with the voters and his occasional rebellion against party policy has undoubtedly helped him on the election nights when Labour has been rejected elsewhere around the country.

But there is a sub story to Dobson’s success that has  been discussed excitedly  in pubs and corridors but not publicly: what happens when Frank finally retires undefeated?

His departure, whenever that may be, will surely generate quite the bunfight inside the Labour Party over who should follow him. It is an attractive seat but this is no place for parachute landings. Camden doesn’t have room – and the local constituency party would be crazy to choose an outsider.

So, those interested in the role – including a clutch of serving Labour councillors at the Town Hall right now, we can all guess a couple of names  here – will be thinking very carefully at this time about how they want the next couple of years to pan out. Like Dobson did decades before, they need to show they have done the local work first, so watch out for those overeager to impress in the next 24 months or so. To win, they must also plot a course that keeps them popular with local members when a group debate threatens to divide opinion, but also with residents who are more switched on to local politics than in other areas. A silly parking comment here or a wrong move on council housing there and the chance could be missed. The final showdown could make the Labour leadership contests look very tame.

6 Comments on Undefeated – but who’s next?

  1. A N Wilson’s comment reminds me of an appearance by Ken Clarke, I think on Question Time, just after the Tories’ huge defeat in 1997 . Asked why his party did so badly, Ken’s typically blunt response was, if memory serves me, if Labour had been led by a dead donkey the Conservative Party would have still lost that election.

  2. There are five obvious aspiring candidates in Labour’s 30 Councillors.

    Why not have a book on it?

    My money is on Jonathan S.

    Like judges, MPs should be obliged to go at 70.
    That’d see off Dobson and the ghastly Glenda at a stroke
    – both well past their sell by date IMO.

  3. If it isn’t entirely obvious to you who is being lined up for this safe seat then I would google “Erith & Thamesmead Labour candidate selection”.

    I would then peruse the list of Labour concillors elected this year.

  4. ConDemNation // August 5, 2010 at 11:36 pm //

    Maybe Cllr Braithewaite should spend less time speculating Dobbo’s successor and more time on campaigning against his government’s vicious assault Camden’s council tenants.

  5. Nic Careem // August 6, 2010 at 8:14 am //

    I recall falling out with Dobsonites when I made an A N Wilson type comment at Labour Quiz Night event which compered and organised back in the early 90s

    My first comment to reasure Labourites about Dobson’s chances was ” Don’t worry Frank this seat is so safe a telephone box with Labour rosette could win this seat easily” That was innocent an innocent comment and meant to be supportive.

    The one jibe which was rather more mischevious, but was just meant as a joke was: “First prize for the quiz was dinner with Frank and second prize was 2 dinners. From that moment my future with Camden Labour rapidly went downwards.

  6. My bet for the candidates are:

    Raj Chada

    Theo Blackwell

    Fiona Miller

    Lucy Anderson (she will not have the support after her departure from Kentish Town).

    Sarah Hayward

    A long shot would be someone like Tulip Siddiq.

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