REMEMBER the Hampstead Town by-election? It seems ages ago now – and on the surface the story was simple: The Tories won at a canter, capitalising on left-leaning voters possibly unsure about backing the Lib Dems again and Labour pushing hard to put down a marker ahead of more important elections.
But – and this was not immediately apparent at the time – some Labour insiders say it wasn’t all as simple as that. Behind the scenes, some members were disappointed by the tactics employed.
While many of us saw Labour going full pelt to try and drive the Lib Dems into third, the briefings are that this spirit was born out of a desire to show the leadership that they had been wrong to not invest more time and energy into the campaign.
One of the chief complaints was the party’s decision to do ‘action days’ – stalls and leaflets – in other parts of the borough during the campaign. If Labour is going for the win, this kind of activity is often suspended while manpower is thrust only at the ward the election is in.
There’s a difference of opinion on how serious this irritation was depending on who you speak to. Some members who came over to help from Haringey marveled at the Camden operation. Others on the ground say Labour should have been going in even harder while Lib Dem votes are potentially up for grabs.
What has been a surprise, however, is that in the weeks that have followed the poll, it’s been easy to find people frustrated by their month on the election trail in Hampstead Town. And not just for the uphill canvassing.