NEW MP Sir Keir Starmer is hard-driving local Labour members in Holborn and St Pancras with his “plus one” campaign. He has essentially demanded everyone in the local party to sign up at least one more person. So far, he’s welcomed nearly 400 new faces to the fold since he took over the reins from Frank Dobson, with the constituency making strong claims to be the largest local Labour army in the country. Hovering around the 1,700 mark, an advance past the 2,000 member milestone would do the job. No wonder, then, that leadership contender Andy Burnham was buzzing around the constituency last week.
HIGHGATE councillor Sian Berry scored a clever endorsement in her campaign to become the Green Party’s mayoral candidate with MP Caroline Lucas swinging behind her. The Brighton MP, the party’s sole voice in the Commons, celebrated Sian’s plan to run “a grassroots, open and inclusive campaign to reach and engage as many Londoners as possible”.
THE Greens perhaps provided the most interesting story in the general election spending receipts filed at the Town Hall. As we reported in the New Journal, party leader Natalie Bennett spent more than £40,000 taking on Mr Starmer. Rivals briefed this as ‘betting the house and losing’, for it was a bill amounting to more than both than Labour and the second placed Tories spent put together. Natalie said: “We’ve also built a vote, and supporter and membership network, with the London Assembly and mayoral elections next year, and Camden council elections in 2018, in mind.” The row over who is Labour’s real opposition in the south of Camden will rumble on and on.
FORMER BBC journalist (and Kilburn councillor) Douglas Beattie provided a defence against claims his old employers have a left-wing bent. Writing in the New Statesman this week following tales that David Cameron had fantasised about shutting down the Beeb during the election campaign, Cllr Beattie insisted: “If anything there is an in-built editorial bias from the Right because of the way the newspapers – especially the Daily Mail – help shape the day-to-day agenda at the BBC. Senior editors plough their way through bundles of the day’s papers before ever committing themselves to covering a story and often end up reflecting what has already been printed.” I wonder if he is in the camp which suggests the Morning Star, a national newspaper after all, should be added to the BBC and Sky News’ nightly paper review.
BACK to Keir, he signed his first Early Day Motion as Holborn and St Pancras MP by backing a plan by potential Labour mayoral candidate Diane Abbott to make supermarkets give grub which is close to sell-by dates to food banks rather than throwing it away. Do not take this an endorsement for Diane’s run for City Hall. He has yet to name his preferred candidate.
AWALE Olad’s bid to get Camden Council to boycott the FIFA computer games in the wake of the world soccer scandal was given the red card by his higher uppers. The Labour councillor’s colleague Abdul Hai told last Monday’s full council meeting that the game was effectively luring the young into libraries. Conservative long-timer Andrew Mennear could not resist mocking Awale for coming up with what he said was one of the silliest suggestions the council chamber had ever heard. Later, Awale was heard muttering about it not being as silly as the time Andrew found himself on the front page of the Evening Standard for suggesting groups like Stonewall should pay for condom clearance on Hampstead Heath.
Tory reaction to Labour councillor Awale Olad's suggestion that the FIFA computer game should be boycotted by Camden https://t.co/JCAFXAGUEx
— Richard Osley (@RichardOsley) June 26, 2015
CITY Hall calls next year, and Siobhan Baillie and Tom Smith are among the names floating around as potential London Assembly runners as the deadline approaches.