EMILY Frith was apparently house hunting in the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency this time last week. She was, after all, picked as the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for the area last month. With house prices what they are, a few people thought that it might be a bit of a gamble to buy anywhere with such a hard fight ahead and no guarantee of victory.
Fast forward to last night and the Lib Dems say Emily has packed in her campaign before it really begun. She has written to the party explaining her decision to step down from being the PPC after just a matter of weeks. It’s not because she couldn’t find anywhere to live up here – she’s based in Blackheath, like Glenda Jackson – but because she’s got a politically restrictive job in government. It must be a post that ultimately that she found more attractive than trying to turn third place into first place in the north west of the borough.
This is obviously a bit of a disaster for the Lib Dems, as they have to begin their search for a candidate all again when the whole point was to get up a head of steam while Labour dither over who they think should stand in place of the retiring Ms Jackson.
The party in Camden has been here before, however. Before the 2005 general election, the Holborn branch picked Eleanor Key to stand against Frank Dobson. I think I only saw her once (although that’s one more time than Emily Frith). Before we knew it she had moved to Chester and the Lib Dems had to start their recruitment process again. Again, this might have seemed like a disaster, but by running the selection process again they hired Jill Fraser, the fish and chip shop worker from Gospel Oak, who piled on the votes and temporarily closed the gap on Dobbo.