THERE are a couple of interesting hustings in Holborn and St Pancras this week. Unison host Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer and his opponents at the Town Hall tonight (although I understand that Tory Will Blair is sending a sub). On Wednesday night, they will all be back together again at the Primrose Hill Community Centre. People taking a long a question for Sir K to these events should be mindful, however, that they will not be able to strap him into any pre-election promises. While he will give his view on a topic, he has told hustings audiences that he does not want to say which way he would vote on different policies because he does not want to be accused of broken promises. Asked last week whether he would support a moratorium on fracking, he explained this stance: “One of things I’ve vowed not to do in this exercise is to put promises out there which I can’t deliver on because I’m part of the Labour Party, and we don’t agree on a moratorium. I genuinely think I should only commit to things I am capable of delivering.” Rivals suggest this can be translated as being an MP that dutifully follows the party whip. We’ll see.
THE TWO QUESTIONS THAT EVERYBODY ASKS TULIP
WITH Tulip Siddiq grabbing one profile piece after another in the national newspapers, I asked her campaign team what she made of the frenzied attention. “It is a bit much, because none of the national journalists have asked about her views on any policies, ” an aide says, with a straight face. “They’ve all asked the same two questions, why is she called Tulip and how tall she is.” Hearing this, suddenly the penny dropped and I realised why I had never become a big boss on Fleet Street, so I phoned Tulip and asked: “Oh Tulip, I was just wondering, because I haven’t asked you before, why are you called Tulip?” She said: “Because my mother was in Amsterdam before I was born.”
LOOK FOR THE LIB DEM BIRD
I CAN confirm that the Liberal Democrats are not being coarse about their two parliamentary candidates in Camden on their latest election leaflet. A couple of people did a double take before realising they didn’t mean Jill Fraser.
REGARDLESS of the top blab about Sir Keir’s stance on pre-election pledges, there’s no getting away from the fact that some of the best local campaigns – the ones which actually started off with the best chance of winning – were those that had the fortune of coinciding with the run up to an election. The save the Kentish Town swimming baths campaign hit the perfect moment where Labour were briefly on the run from the Liberal Democrats in the ward, while successful demonstrations to protect services at the Whittington Hospital came when the political parties were fighting for votes ahead of the general election. So as spirited as the campaign is to shield libraries in Barnet from the cuts, it is natural to wonder whether holding a public march two days AFTER a general election is the best tactic. These days, right now, especially in tight constituencies, are when politicians’ minds are most focused on what people want.