ALTHOUGH it would have been a bigger story if the headine read: ‘Glenda: I’m standing for Parliament again – aged 80’, the front page of this week’s Ham & High nicely stokes the debate over what happens next. Nobody is blind to the fact that boundary changes could significantly change the game in what is now Glenda Jackson’s Hampstead and Kilburn constituency. The guessing game is over how the electoral map will be speared.
We all know Glenda won’t be part of the contest herself, she has for a long time now made no secret of the fact she’s on her final term at the Commons and will retire undefeated at the ballot box. But there are twists and turns ahead, as all of the parties decide who will queue up on the starting line when we all vote next. The Telegraph muses wickedly about Fiona Millar standing for Labour here– a common pub discussion over the last year. If Fiona thinks she’s too old, as the Tel suggests, what must she think of Glenda soldiering on for 18 years?
But there are questions too about the identity of the Conservative and Lib Dem candidates for Hampstead and [Kilburn, St John’s Wood, Westminster North, Barnet, who knows?] and the strength of their campaigns. I have a stock question for Chris Philp whenever I see him: will you stand again? He always replies that he’d love to – he loves Hampstead – but he wants to see the map of the constituency before making any commitments. After all, he is due a winnable seat from Tory HQ. The Lib Dems must also think about how they can repeat the gung ho challenge they put up. Ed Fordham’s third place belied how close he was, but it will surely be tougher next time out?
The Ham & High ponders what Glenda might do next: she suggests travel and hobbies. But I’m more interested in the newspaper’s leader’s column which comes up with a new suggestion:
One thing does seem clear. Mr [Frank] Dobson will not be standing again, having signalled even before the 2010 election was over that should he retain the seat, it would be his Parliamentary swansong. Predictably, another of our MPs, Glenda Jackson, has confirmed her intention not to stand again. Between them, they will have served their constituents for almost 60 years by the time they retire. Seats in the upper house surely beckon.
Baroness Jackson? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know. She’s always given off the impression to me that she’s scournful of the unelected nature of the upper house. In fact, she has voted for reform and against hereditary peers taking their places. If she did move to the Lords, she would have to go there chiming that groaning, less than impressive argument: I’m going to change it from within. I’m not sure Glenda would feel comfortable with that old chestnut. We’ll see.