WITH all the is-it-a-marginal-or-not chat about whether Chris Grayling knew what he was saying last week about the Tory view of Hampstead and Kilburn – the trendy word is ‘misspoke’ – a few Labour voices are wondering whether local members have already triumphantly chalked up the constituency in the win column. The line goes that if Labour really thought there was only 42 votes in it still, and Tulip Siddiq repeats that scare figure whenever she meets voters, would the local councillors from Camden be so spread out across the country in the final days of campaigning.
The important battles, in their minds, seem to lie elsewhere. Take a group email sent from Danny Beales ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend which was titled ‘Go West’. It urged councillors to join them on the early train from Paddington to go canvassing in Reading West.
One who definitely couldn’t make it was Jonathan Simpson who replied-all to say he was also elsewhere on an important Labour mission, canvassing in Manchester and Bury North. This all coincided with council leader Sarah Hayward inviting the women among the group to join her and shadow cabinet faces on the ‘pink bus to Thurrock’ over the weekend, where Camden friends of Polly Billington have put in several shifts as part of the bid to fend off Ukip there.
This weekend Holborn & St Pancras, Hampstead & Kilburn, Thurrock and Hornsey & Wood Green. #LabourWin2015
— Sarah Hayward (@Sarah_Hayward) May 4, 2015
As a high profile council leader mucking in across marginal constituencies, Sarah, as you can see from that tweet and many others she has sent over the last few weeks, has covered a heap of miles during the campaign. That’s pretty understandable given her position. But sceptics in the group worry that too much time out of town for the rest of the Camden team might leave the back door open in Hampstead and Kilburn, even if the polls and bookmaker odds are glowing. If Simon Marcus was to win, they quietly warn, questions will be asked why backbench councillors were pressed to leave the battleground on their own doorstep so often. The super sceptical go further, wondering aloud as to whether those who backed Sally Gimson or Sally Linden in the candidate selection contest in Hampstead and Kilburn all those months ago are now finding it hard to stomach what more than one national newspaper has referred to as ‘Tulip Fever’.
It is unknown as to whether any of this was in the mind of Kilburn councillor Douglas Beattie when he replied to the invitation to get on the train to Reading with a rather dry email to the group:
WHILE some Labour members remain nervous about the possibility of ‘shy Tories’ coming out of the shadows on Thursday and wrecking their party in Hampstead and Kilburn, there is obviously a lot of confidence among others. After all, this is a constituency where the term ‘shoo-in’ has been used before. Among those in the camp who say there’s nothing to worry about for Tulip, at least one councillor has put their money where there mouth is and has been to the bookies and invested money on her prospects. The councillor, who wants to remain anonymous, admits that at odds of 1/4, you have to put a fairly substantial amount of money on to make the exercise worthwhile. Presumably, it wasn’t one of the members looking for gambling operators to be restricted on Kilburn High Road, now known locally in some places as the Bookmakers Mile.
YOU WANTED BILLBOARDS?
TORY supporters who questioned why there were no billboard ads in the final days before voting in Hampstead and Kilburn were sent a thumbs-up pic of Simon Marcus with a touring mobile hoarding yesterday. The speech bubble could easily say: HAPPY NOW?