“I am not sure the party can ever reconnect with the Labour movement. There is no active organisation to reverse it,”said former Camden Labour councillor Richard Stein in December, as he quit the party following the Rochester by-election and his frustration at Ed Miliband’s handling of Emily Thornberry’s white van man tweet. Instead, he said was joining the Green, a switch of parties which warranted a full comment piece in the Guardian no less. He added here that it was ” clear that the Labour party was never going to recover from the poison of Blairism.” But the word is out that Richard, a charismatic lawyer now working in Islington who helped fight for the Greens to be included in television debates ahead of the general election, has decided Labour can now be revived under Corbyn. He says he signed back the day after the Islington North MP’s resounding victory was confirmed. Something to think about for the Greens ahead of their conference in Bournemouth next week, they will hope this interest in reconnection is not replicated elsewhere north London, in constituencies where the party has made strong gains for being leftier than Labour. Like the Highgate council ward, for example. As polite as things always are in that part of the borough, Labour schemers may just wonder if Jeremy Corbyn’s new look for the Labour Party will finally return them a clean sweep of councillors.
FIRST NORTH LONDON ELECTORAL TESTS FOR CORBYN
TWO by-elections over the borough boundary in Haringey today, I guess could be spun as presenting the first test of how north London is reacting to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership victory. The polls are open in the Noel Park and Woodside wards. Labour has strong leads in both, but there is an urgency among Corbynites apparently to make sure there is no dip in performance, just days into his control. The stattos want to know about swings, even if the names of the winners are predictable. Labour’s Charles Wright won comfortably in another council by-election in Woodside at the end of last year, and the scores might be measured against that. In the meantime, it’s interesting to see the Lib Dem challenger in that ward Jenni Hollis’s campaign videos. These are the kind of films which used to be made by Baroness Lynne Featherstone, to whom Ms Hollis is a former a chief of staff. The rise of the Lib Dems in areas like Camden, Islington and Haringey (pre-Clegg and the coalition) was often said to be built on road to road campaigning, solving simple hyperlocal gripes, rather than trying to be seen in national policy debates. Back to the future then, as the party tries to rebuild, here’s Jenni picking up the fly-tipped rubbish in Wood Green and dumping it outside the civic centre.
HIGHGATE councillor and Green mayoral candidate Sian Berry plays to the Corbyn Left.
CONSERVATIVE Oliver Cooper keeps the Angela Pober resignation issue up front.