IT’S been a while since we checked in with what’s happening with the leadership race inside Camden’s Labour Party. So far – and if you don’t know this, you are not paying attention and are looking for the other Richard Osley – Sarah Hayward and Theo Blackwell remain the only declared candidates following Nash Ali’s resignation last month, a decision which had followed Sarah’s initial challenge. Time is running thin for a third candidate to emerge ahead of the group’s AGM but there is growing expectation that one will, late in the day. Theo and Sarah fans will say the delay to declare will run against their idea that this process should be a friendly debate among the whole group about what it wants from the future and what it should expect from its new leader. The weeks have passed and while both Theo and Sarah have written ‘manifesto’ ideas for what their leadership would look like in the form of emails and notes to members, there is no official third option at this stage. “It’s been going on longer than the French elections”, is one of the jokes doing the rounds.
In crude terms – and Sarah for one will contest this and to be fair it’s a little too nuanced for such broad strokes – some members characterise this tug of war as Theo and Sarah being similarly on the right of the group and the discussions about who else will stand to oppose them centring on the emergence of a ‘left’ candidate. Tulip Siddiq or Thomas Gardiner could fill this role but its a numbers game and if they both threw their hat in the ring, then neither are likely to be successful. It’s Tulip’s cabinet experience versus Thomas’s more explicit lefty credentials.
One version of events has it that by standing, Thomas also gets to show he is ready for responsibility and should be worthy of a uniting cabinet position irrespective of whether he wins or not. Others say if the ‘rebels’ really want to beat Theo and Sarah, they need to have a candidate who already has cabinet experience to do it and that a warm admiration for Thomas would not quite carry the day.
Either way, time is running out for that group debate the branch was on about when Nash was first challenged.