ONE day to go and bless the press officers at Camden Council, who are submerged in an ‘unprecedented’ number of media requests for tomorrow’s night general election count. It means some of our international cousins in the press have been told there’s no room at the inn at the Somers Town sports hall. TV channels from France, Norway, Italy and Germany have politely had access requests refused. One channel actually rang the New Journal offices yesterday and asked whether we could recommend a pub that would be showing it all night as an alternative. The Skinners could make a killing. Of course, there are many storylines that can be weaved out of Camden’s two constituencies: the retirement of two famous MPs, the possible arrival on the scene of Sir Keir Starmer, tipped by some as a future Labour Party leader, a possible make or break moment for Green leader Natalie Bennett, a moment of truth for Lib Dem Maajid Nawaz, the prospect of a deceased candidate winning votes and the so-called ultra marginal contest in Hampstead and Kilburn, previously billed as the Conservatives No. 1 target seat for a gain from Labour, the interest from Bangladesh about the fortunes of their prime minister’s niece…. oh and Nigel ‘the only viable candidate’ Rumble’s latest attempt to win a by-election.
@RichardOsley all interested in that handsome Italian returning officer rather than the results ;-)
— lazzaro pietragnoli (@lazzarop) May 6, 2015
It looks like some of the European channels, however, simply looked at the first election stop off from the Eurostar and Camden has said no, unless they can show a specific reason for being at the count. Other media have been asked to whittle down extensive lists for passes. One broadcaster is understood to have asked for 20 wristbands. Either way, the number is likely to top the audience at Haverstock School in 2010 when 70 journalists were there. It has all led the council to remind us all in a statement that the aim of the evening is to get the votes counted securely, not to create a TV studio. “We must remember the purpose of this event is to run an election and whilst we are doing everything we can to give media access, we must strike the right balance to ensure that capacity at the venue is safe and the count can run smoothly,” it says. “We have had an unprecedented level of interest in this count from media from across the world including France, Germany and Italy, due in part to our central London location. We allocate priority for media accreditation to local, regional and UK national media outlets with a specific interest in these constituencies. We are aware that some media outlets register at a number of counts across London and unfortunately on this occasion we have not been able to accommodate all international media and journalists who have requested to attend.”
LET’S GO TO DARTFORD
Yesterday’s morning line about Hampstead and Kilburn and whether Camden’s Labour councillors should be working flat out there or not – and the murmuring in places that because they are not permanently fighting the battle on their own doorstep that they may feel the fight has already been won – caused a bit of a stir. After Kilburn councillor Douglas Beattie’s dry reminder that the constituency here was meant to be marginal in a reply to an invitation to join a campaigning beano to Reading West, a few head-shakers point to an email earlier in the campaign in which he himself had suggested colleagues go door-knocking in Dartford.
I checked with Tulip’s campaign as to whether Cllr Beattie featured in her mysterious ‘purple book’ with which, according to a screengrab of her Facebook page sent anonymously, she has threatened to put local members who do not muck in to the levels she had expected in Hampstead and Kilburn. The answer seemed to be no, but she did not want to talk about what the purple book actually was or who was in it. All there is, is this speculation that everything is being noted down to be remembered in the future, whatever that means. Others say those who do not help knock up or man polling stations in the constituency tomorrow apparently risk featuring in it. THE COOK TO THE RESCUE
WE are unwittingly learning bits and pieces about Tulip’s husband, Chris Percy, during the campaign. She hasn’t cooked for two years because he makes all their meals or they eat out, for example. He is now adeptly growing into the role of a troubleshooter on campaign photo jobs. For although Tulip has enjoyed a fair bit of positive coverage in the Evening Standard – three appearances on double page spreads and pictures so large that even some of her own Camden colleagues thought it all a bit sickly – there was nothing for her to smile about yesterday when the front page of the paper urged Londoners to vote for the Conservatives. As she picked up a copy outside Kilburn tube station, I tried for a sneaky snap of her reading it. Before she could turn round, Chris dived in and whipped it away, and so I have no silly picture of her holding a paper which blazes: Vote Tory. He’s too quick for me.
What ‘all out’ in Hampstead and Kilburn looks like?.
— Richard Merrin (@richardmerrin) May 4, 2015