AFTER apparently talking up his chances as the most likely candidate to pip market favourite Sir Keir Starmer in Labour’s selection contest in Holborn and St Pancras, London Assembly Tom Copley has done what people have been intimating he might in recent days and declared he will not now run for the vacancy. Instead, he has sent a message out urging people to back council leader Sarah Hayward for the job. This isn’t a giant surprise. The pair are close friends – they were key players together in the 2010 local election comeback – and some people say he was sent out as a scout the territory for Sarah all along. I would never stoop to such suspicious gossip, and Tom suggests it has been a hard decision to walk away from the race himself.
In a letter to the New Journal for publication on Thursday, Coppers clarifies it all by saying he is “grateful” for all the support he has received during the weeks of speculation, but adds: “I am writing to urge Labour members in Holborn and St Pancras to give their support to Sarah Hayward. Sarah has led Camden Council with passion, determination and skill… The way in which she has strived to defend the borough’s excellent services in the face of appalling cuts from central government should serve as an example to all councils
While Sarah has not declared she is actually running yet, this is more likely part of the cat and mouse timing of making it all official. Nobody wants to be seen over-eager in diving in first, in the wake of Frank Dobson’s retirement week last week, even though we all know Sir Keir Starmer and Raj Chada, for example, are certs to stand.
Sarah, for her part, sent out an email to members recently which finally switched the light on among those who had actually foggily thought she really did prefer being a council leader to the idea of being an MP. It was all about the council’s minimum wage improvements for council staff but was couched with so many ‘I’s that many members saw it as selling herself as much as the policy. She has also updated her personal blog for the first time in three months, but moreover, it is understood she phoned around councillors at some stage last week, not to canvass support, but to courteously tell them of her intent to stand for selection. There’s no doubting she will be a serious contender.