IT’S been another twist-laden evening in the branch nominations for Labour’s parliamentary selection contest in Holborn and St Pancras, due in no small part to developments in the deep south. Yes, that intriguing, unpredictable corner of Camden has done it again.
This evening, members in Holborn and Covent Garden voted for West Hampstead councillor Angela Pober ahead of Town Hall leader Sarah Hayward in the women only section of the ballot. In doing so, it became the first branch in the borough to reject Sarah at this stage in favour of somebody else.
It’s grind for Sarah. It can’t be nice being told, as council leader, that a branch would rather a backbencher went forward.
All of this, of course, won’t stop the council leader from being at the final showdown at St Pancras Church on December 13 – every other branch has nominated her. But it does mean that Angela has at least met the basic requirement of winning at least one nomination. That’s needed in order to stand a chance of qualifying for the final list. Their names will go to the selection committee on November 29, but it’s worth remembering that Labour organisers gear towards four-strong, gender-balanced shortlists in open contests like this.
In that respect, this is a big result for Angela. Nora Mulready may feel the same having won a nomination from Co-operative Party members alongside Raj.
The Holbornistas went on to pick Sir Keir Starmer this evening, before adding Raj Chada on the optional third vote aimed at increasing the ethnic minority representation on the final slate of candidates.
It would be plain rude to suggest that Angela has not fought her way into the final reckoning. I’ve said before that she has no shortage of confidence. It’s a big thing to take on your group leader just a few months after getting elected to the council.
In Gospel Oak last night, she was said to be just four votes behind Sarah in that women only section of the vote.
The swift words coming from some Sarah supporters tonight, however, is that there has been game-playing, and an attempt by her rivals to try and destabilise her otherwise buoyant campaign. They don’t want to sound offensive to Angela, but they do not like the pattern of yesterday’s nominations where Angela did not even get a proposer in King’s Cross, but collected a concentration of votes in Gospel Oak.
And almost as soon as the result was filtering out of Bedford House in Holborn and Covent Garden this evening, there was growling that a belligerent anti-Sarah vote had been a key factor and that an unofficial ‘clean fight’ accord was now torn.