BEFORE Tulip Siddiq won the Labour selection in Hampstead and Kilburn last year, the final hustings and members vote was ramped up by some insiders as a close call. In the end, she raced away with it. Maybe the same thing will happen on Saturday in Holborn and St Pancras, and that for all the gossip about how tight things will be in the battle to succeed Frank Dobson, the favourite will gallop clear.
Maybe. But that would not explain why appeals from Sir Keir Starmer’s team have gone out to people they know will not put him down as first choice, asking at least for him to be ticked as their second preference. Sarah Hayward’s team are doing it too, asking people who are sure to vote for Sir Keir or Raj Chada to pick her as their second choice. It means that members who felt the pleading calls and the doorknocks would end when they made clear who their favourite was are still being hassled for that second preference pick. I’ve had one report of a member being contacted FIVE times by the same candidate, even though they told them quite clearly they are supporting someone else.
The canvassing continues, regardless.
Some have felt it’s all been a tad relentless.
And it’s been relentless because there is a growing belief among the various campaign teams that it will be unlikely for any one candidate to secure the majority they need on a single vote come Saturday afternoon in St Pancras Church.
I’ll sit on the fence if you ask me who will win, but Sir Keir is likely to be in the lead after round one. If he does not establish a big enough lead, however, he is still vulnerable to defeat in round two from two, maybe three, of his opponents.
And that’s why it appears more interesting than the Hampstead and Kilburn shootout last year – there are so many 1-2 permutations which could swing the result – and why members can expect pressure from the campaign hacks right to the last second.