IF Brian Coleman holds onto his Barnet and Camden seat at the London Assembly count currently taking place at Alexandra Palace, those who have come to despise him should run for cover. He has shown before his winning speeches can be a lively onslaught against his critics. And if he wins today, it will be his most remarkable win. Right now, he is heading for the exit door. Some Tories are pretty much conceding defeat in private.
A pretty farcical start to the day saw a power cut delay the start of computer scanning at Ally Pally. As a result, three north London constituencies will declare later than anywhere else this afternoon, this evening, tomorrow morning, Wednesday, August, some day. But the indication screens already show Andrew Hartley Dismore for Labour edging further and further ahead of Brian John Coleman. What is most worrying for Tory observers is the first wad of votes to be counted were from Barnet, areas where Coleman needs his vote to hold up to hold on. Only in the middle afternoon period of counting has there been slight signs of a clawback.
The Camden and Barnet battle has almost exclusively been fought in Barnet. As Barnet caters for roughly two thirds of people voters, Coleman has been able to win in the past without worrying too much about Camden being an historically Labour borough and hostile to his campaign. But relations with Barnet voters are not what they once were. Neither, it is claimed, are relations with some Barnet Tories. Rows over parking have proved just a little too thorny.
There is one school of thought that with all of this going on that Dismore would be best suited to follow a tactic of saying nothing and allowing Coleman’s notorious viperish tongue – he says what he thinks – create its own problems. The idea among many is that Coleman has beaten himself. So, one of the last results to be announced today will be met with chants of ecstatic delight from his many opponents (and they don’t just have red rosettes), or one of the angriest, triumphant winning speeches Coleman has ever delivered.