AS predicted on these pages not so long ago, Jill Fraser will run again for the Liberal Democrats in Holborn and St Pancras. Her selection on Thursday night shows she has no hard feelings over being dropped from the slate in 2010 when members opted instead for Jo Shaw, who has since left the party. As energetic as Jo was, and she did increase the Lib Dem share of the vote by a couple of percent, there were those who felt Jill had earned a second chance back then. The former mayor looks back proudly on the 2005 General Election when she helped shrink Frank Dobson’s majority to below 5,000. See the uncharacteristically smutty innuendo on the front page next to the picture of Dobson and his then Conservative challenger Margot James.
These are tougher times for the Lib Dems, obviously, and it would seem a sensible enough move to go back to basics with a candidate who is well known locally and has a record of neigbourhood action.
There’s some noise from Labour councillor Lazzaro Pietragnoli, not in his mayoral role, over this. He believes that, in contrast to the scrutiny of Labour’s search for a candidate to follow Frank, there has not been enough attention to the process with which the Lib Dems have reached their choice. He makes similar criticism of the transparency of the Conservative recruiting of Will Blair for the task. He was tweeting like a rabbit on Saturday (you can find him at @lazzarop).
But the reality of course is that the constituency is what it is, a Labour stronghold for decades which other parties have used more as a proving ground for candidates who have later graduated to more rewarding challenges. Labour are looking for a candidate who will earn a passport to the Commons when they are selected. That’s why it is getting so much local press attention, and interest from beyond our borough boundaries. The Lib Dems and Tories are not. No party, Lazzaro’s included, is going to plough spending into rounds of candidate hustings and big open primaries in constituencies which are tilted this way.
PIC: Paul Braithwaite (@AQcouncillor)