ANGELA Pober is not giving up the ghost in the run for Holborn and St Pancras. She is not one of the ones said to have been scared off the task by Sir Keir Starmer’s high-profile presence in the Labour Party’s selection field. And as a serving councillor, by entering the race, she is not afraid to say, indirectly at least, that she thinks she would be a better MP for Holborn and St Pancras than her group leader – and the council’s leader – Sarah Hayward. That’s must be born from the same confident streak which moved her to stand for a Town Hall cabinet role just days after being elected to the council earlier this year.
A little later on this year’s timeline, but not much, she assured Labour Party members that she was actually prepared to up sticks and move to Salford if they selected as a parliamentary candidate her in Hazel Blears’ constituency up there, where an all women shortlist was enforced in summer selection contest.
“Yes, I would guarantee that I will be living in the constituency,” she told the Salford Star newsblog in July; perhaps not the response the voters in West Hampstead would have expected eight weeks after choosing her ahead of long-serving Liberal Democrats in a historic (locally) result at May’s local elections.
On the subject of that victory in West Hampstead, Angela’s campaign website says: “I enjoy campaigning and 11 months of solid work won West Hampstead ward from the Liberal Democrats and oustead [sic] their Leader. The win was grounded in door-step commonsense not leaflets or sloganeering. Our collective focus is now to hold and grow our majority in Holborn and St. Pancras to return our Labour MP – come and join us.”
That in itself is an interesting take on the apparent priorities in Camden’s Labour Party for next year, and the parliamentary candidate covering Angela’s West Hampstead ward, Tulip Siddiq, might be confused that the ‘collective focus’ has now shifted to Holborn and St Pancras, and is not retained with her in Hampstead and Kilburn where Labour’s lead is notably smaller.
In the end, Angela did not make the shortlist in Salford and Eccles – it’s hard, although not impossible, to win a selection contest a long way from home. There was a similar outcome to how her own application fared in the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency last year, where she did not secure a place on the final shortlist alongside Tulip (and Sally Gimson and Sophie Linden). She did make the final knockings in Reading East back in 2012, but a local councillor won the candidacy.
Her rivals in Holborn and St Pancras, it could be said, have the run on her, by starting their networking and publicity pushes earlier. They have hogged the early skirmishes. She explains on her website that the lack of ‘courting’ the vote was simply rooted in her respect for a fair contest: “The selection process officially commenced on October 28th and I’ve been asked why I had not ‘courted’ the press before that date or why I had not been in touch with the membership. The answer is that I believe in a fair process and that meant not using membership data accessible to me for my own purposes as that would breach the Data Protection Act. But now we can officially purchase the CLP membership list and away we go!”
How refreshing, but, as we’ve said here before, nobody is going to remember who jumped the start, who stretched the rules, who said something mean, who had a silly leaflet, in the decades to come, especially if the winner of this contest spends as long a time in the Commons as Frank Dobson has.
Angela is now busy contacting members, though, as she bids to make the cut and be on the stage for the December 13 end-game hustings. A letter, for example, went out on Friday, in which she vowed to cut government waste once she makes it to Parliament, and included her thoughts on that thorny ol’ subject: Ed Miliband’s Mansion Tax.
Here’s the excerpt for readers to… decode: “So what is the prognosis for the Mansion Tax? Well, we need to be able to code Mansion Tax. I have faith that our Labour policy makers have thought this one through and the computer will not be saying ‘no’. The social equality of Labour values depends on being able to deliver on our promises, if the Mansion Tax is too complex to code it will never become reality and Society will be the loser, years will have gone by before we admit that we should have done something different.”
The contest continues, with the application deadline due to close on Monday.