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.